For a driver to face a criminal charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI), they must be under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, drug or chemical substance that can impair their ability to drive. Alternatively, their alcohol concentration level should be .08 or more during a roadside test.
However, some factors can push the offense into aggravated DWI territory. Aggravated DWI is an enhanced offense that carries more severe penalties for conviction. What are these enhancing factors, and what sort of punishment can a driver expect on conviction?
The following factors will upgrade a normal DWI charge into an aggravated DWI, regardless of whether the driver was intoxicated due to alcohol or a controlled substance:
- Going over speed limits: If the driver at the time of the DWI offense drives at a speed over 30 mph in excess of the speed limit.
- Causing a collision: If the intoxicated driver caused a collision that resulted in serious bodily injury to either themselves or another.
- Eluding the police: If the driver attempted to escape law enforcement by either increasing speed or turning off their headlamps.
- Carrying an underage passenger: If the driver at the time of the offense also had a passenger under 16.
- Driving a heavy vehicle: If the driver was operating a vehicle with a gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
Alternatively, a driver with an alcohol concentration of .16 or more during a traffic stop automatically faces a charge of aggravated DWI.
Aggravated DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the aggravated DWI charge is for an offense resulting in serious bodily injury, it becomes a Class B felony.
A conviction for aggravated DWI carries a minimum fine of $750 and not less than 17 consecutive days in a county correctional facility. The court may also order the person to undergo a full substance use disorder evaluation and to have their vehicle installed with an ignition interlock device. The New Hampshire Department of Safety will also revoke the person’s driving privileges for at least 18 months or up to two years.
However, if the aggravated DWI is for an offense that resulted in serious bodily injury, a conviction carries a slightly different penalty. The minimum county correctional facility sentence is extended to at least 35 consecutive days.
An aggravated DWI charge is more than just a name change from an ordinary DWI. A conviction for the offense leads to more serious penalties compared to a regular drunk driving charge. Worse, if an aggravated DWI offense causes serious bodily injury, it’s treated as a felony crime. This can negatively affect a person’s career and financial opportunities.
If you face accusations, remember that you don’t have to tackle them alone. Consider consulting a legal professional who may be able to help plan your defense and protect your rights in court.