If you have had too much to drink and you decide to drive home anyway, you'd better hope you're not in Mississippi. Law enforcement in this state may be trying to improve its reputation for leniency on drunk drivers, and you just may be the example they are looking for.
However, leniency is relative when it comes to drunk driving laws. It certainly does not mean you will get off easy if police charge you with DUI. In fact, there may be circumstances that result in legal consequences beyond those for a simple DUI conviction.
If a court convicts you of driving under the influence of alcohol, you probably had a blood alcohol content of at least .08. Police may have noticed you swerving or pulled you over at a sobriety checkpoint before subjecting you to field sobriety tests and breath or blood analysis. You may be able to avoid jail time, but you will likely have costly fines and other penalties to endure, including the suspension of your license.
However, if aggravating factors are present at the time of your arrest, you can expect much harsher penalties. Aggravating factors may include any of the following:
- You have a child in the car while you are driving under the influence.
- Your breath test registers a considerably high BAC.
- You are driving on an already suspended license.
- You are driving while impaired in a school zone.
- You are driving a school bus while intoxicated.
- You have recent DUI convictions on your record.
- You are involved in an accident that results in the serious injury or death of another person.
If more than one of these factors exists in a DUI situation, authorities typically stack the penalties. Aggravated DUI charges are often felonies instead of misdemeanors. Felony convictions may have lifelong consequences that affect your employment prospects, eligibility for federal educational funding and some housing opportunities. Additionally, you can expect penalties that go beyond a fine and license suspension, including:
- You may go to prison.
- Your sentence may include a long probation and community service.
- You may have to surrender your vehicle to authorities.
- Authorities may suspend you driving privileges indefinitely.
- You will likely have to install and use a mandatory ignition interlock system after your license suspension ends.
As you can see, these penalties and consequences hardly meet the definition of lenient. If you are facing charges of aggravated DUI, you certainly have cause for concern. Since your future is on the line, you would benefit from having an advocate who will fight to protect your rights and minimize the consequences as much as possible for your circumstances.