Aggravated DUI in California: Know the Contributing Factors

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DUIs in California are serious criminal matters. Even if it’s your first offense, police can charge you with an aggravated DUI in California in certain circumstances.

Enhanced DUI charges carry serious consequences that could land you in jail, on probation, and without a driver’s license for a long time. 

In this trying situation, you need to have an attorney who has a proven track record of positive results.

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, has tough, aggressive, and successful DUI defense lawyers who can give you the best chance to beat your DUI case or get your charges reduced.

They know how to win. Call them today at 619-234-2300 to find out how they can help you. 

What Is an Aggravated DUI in California?

An aggravated DUI is a DUI offense with additional factors that make the crime more serious and the penalties harsher than a standard DUI. California’s Vehicle Code (VC) itself doesn’t define aggravated DUI. Instead, various sections within the VC outline specific aggravating factors that can transform a DUI into a felony.

What Factors Contribute to an Aggravated DUI in California?

There are situations where the police may bring an enhanced DUI charge. Depending on the circumstances, the charge could be either a misdemeanor or a felony. 

You face enhanced DUI penalties if any of the following factors are present:

  • Your blood-alcohol concentration exceeds 0.15%;
  • You have a child under the age of 14 in your car;
  • Police allege you drove 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on a street or greater than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit on a state highway;
  • Police stopped you in an enhanced safety zone or construction zone; 
  • You are under 21 years of age; or
  • You have a prior conviction for DUI.

The punishments vary depending on the facts of your case. In some instances—like having a child in your car while driving under the influence—you have to serve time in jail even if the judge gives you probation.

In other cases, the judge will impose more restrictions on you like installing an ignition interlock device in your car.

No matter what charges you face, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, can give you the best chance to get the most positive outcome for your case.

When Is a DUI a Felony?

There are situations where prosecutors can charge a DUI as a felony. A felony DUI in California has jail time that is mandatory and other potentially serious consequences. 

You could face a felony conviction if:

  • You have three or more prior convictions for DUI or related charges in the last 10 years and then receive your fourth one;
  • Someone other than you suffered an injury in a car crash you caused while driving under the influence; or
  • Another person died in a car crash you caused while driving under the influence.

Felony DUI penalties in California can include long prison sentences, huge fines, and long license suspensions. 

The Harsh Realities of DUI and Aggravated DUI Penalties

While a first-time DUI in California is typically a misdemeanor, the penalties can still be significant. Potential consequences include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail,
  • Driver’s license suspension,
  • Fines of up to $1,000 (that often top $2,000 due to additional penalty assessments), and 
  • Mandatory alcohol education programs.

However, aggravated DUI charges come with much steeper repercussions. Depending on the specific aggravating factors, a felony DUI could result in:

  • Incarceration of up to 10 years,
  • Lengthy driver’s license suspension or revocation,
  • Up to $5,000 in fines,
  • Three to five years of probation, and
  • Designation as a habitual traffic offender (HTO).

The consequences of an aggravated DUI conviction extend beyond legal ramifications, as it can greatly impact your employment and housing opportunities, increase your insurance rates, and negatively impact your social standing within your community. If you are facing aggravated DUI charges in California, securing legal representation from an experienced DUI defense attorney is crucial.

Why You Should Hire a DUI Attorney for a California Aggravated DUI Charge

California DUI laws are complex, and the consequences can be life-altering. No one facing such serious consequences should try to navigate the legal system alone or with an inexperienced lawyer.

To increase your chances of a positive outcome and lessen the impact of an aggravated DUI charge on your future, you need legal assistance from our seasoned DUI attorneys. They can help you:

  • Understand the charges. We analyze the details of your case, identify the specific aggravating factors involved, and explain the charges in clear terms.
  • Explain the legal system. Your lawyer can guide you through every step, protect your rights, and meet important deadlines.
  • Build a strong defense. With years of experience with the local legal system and access to investigative resources, our criminal defense lawyers thoroughly examine the circumstances of your arrest. We can discover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and craft a tailored and formidable defense strategy to support you.
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor. We have the experience to negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. Negotiations can potentially result in reduced charges, lighter sentences, or participation in alternative programs.
  • Fight for the best possible outcome. With their in-depth understanding of aggravated DUI laws and extensive experience in the courtroom, your attorney can effectively represent you in court.

Contacting one of our skilled DUI attorneys is the most effective way to defend against these charges, protect your rights, and fight for a brighter future.

How to Avoid an Aggravated DUI in California 

Contact the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, for a free consultation to get started on your defense right now.

Our lawyers have over 40 years of experience defending people charged with DUI in the San Diego County area.

We have successfully tried well over one-hundred cases and can give you the advantage you need to avoid the potentially serious consequences of an aggravated DUI charge. 

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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