What is an Aggravated DWI?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2020
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DWI, or driving while intoxicated, is the title that some states assign to the crime of operating a vehicle while under the influence of excessive alcohol or other mind altering substances. In most jurisdictions, the maximum penalties for this crime are outlined. In some jurisdictions, however, the law considers circumstances that make the crime worse, such as having a child in the car. This is commonly known as an aggravated DWI and generally results in harsher punishments.

A DWI is a crime that is taken rather seriously in most jurisdictions. Conviction often leads to multiple consequences. These include fines, court fees, and incarceration. There are several things, however, that can upgrade a driving while intoxicated charge to an aggravated DWI, which means the case is likely to be judged more harshly and the punishments are likely to be more severe.

In New York, for example, a person who is caught driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is subject to conviction for DWI. If a person is caught with a BAC of .18, however, he may be charged with an aggravated DWI. The tendency to intensify the charges when a person’s BAC is multiple times higher than the allowable threshold is not limited to New York, but rather exists in a number of jurisdictions.


Damage can also lead to a person being charged with an aggravated DWI. When a person drives under the influence and while doing so injures another person, in many jurisdictions he makes his charge more severe. The same in true in some instances when a person causes harm to public or private property.

In many instances, the law frowns upon the endangerment of children. DWI charges, in many jurisdictions, are not an exception to this reality. If a person is caught driving while intoxicated and there is a minor in the car, he may be given an aggravated DWI charge.

When a person is convicted of a driving under the influence charge, it is common practice for his driver’s license to be suspended. In some instances, individuals may be able to obtain conditional licenses that allow them to drive to work. In many jurisdictions, the conviction of an aggravated DWI eliminates this possibility.

In most states, the punishments for DWI offenses become harsher when a person is convicted multiple times. The same tendency exists when a person is convicted of more than one aggravated DWI. This is usually true even if the aggravating circumstances are not the same in all of his cases.


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Post 4

@Cupcake15 - I do think that states are getting tougher especially with repeat offenders. The state of Florida is introducing a bill that would require people charged with DWI to have a breathalyzer mechanism that is linked to the ignition of the car so if the driver is impaired then they will not be able to operate their car.

These machines would have to be purchased by the person convicted of a DWI and many of these machines run about $1,500. Some people think that these repeat offenders will just use another car and go around it that way. There is a lot of controversy, but at least the state is trying to make it harder and harder for people to continue to doing this.

Post 3

@SauteePan - I know what you mean. The other day I saw a documentary that showed what a person driving while under the influence of two drinks was like. They offered a simulated test that showed that the subject was impaired after two drinks even though she didn’t feel that it would have been a problem.

In her test, she was unable to see the white lines on the road clearly, and by four drinks the lines looked so blurry that she could not determine where the white lines on the road were.

It was really amazing to see because the subject has said that she has driven under the influence of a few drinks and did not think

it was a big deal. A lot of people think that it won’t happen to them or that they are not drunk and can handle the drive.

I think that all DWI offenses should be felonies with stiff penalties because people need to realize that once you take the risk of driving under the influence you can’t take back the consequences especially if there is a horrific accident.

Post 2

@Subway11 - I know that in cases of aggravated DWI in NY you could face felony charges along with a one year license suspension. I just don’t understand why people do this. They not only put themselves in danger, but they put everyone else’s life in danger too.

I was reading about a really sad case about a mother of six children that was charged with aggravated DWI in New York State and because she had six kids in the car that were under the age of 16 she faces six counts of aggravated DWI which gives a maximum jail sentence of four years in prison.

I also read about another case years ago in which a mother of

three and her three nieces were in the car when the driver was under the influence of drugs. The fatal accident left only one survivor and it was the son of the mother driving the car. I think that we need to get tougher laws because cases like this have to stop especially when they involve the lives of children.
Post 1

I read that aggravated DWI in New York State carries a maximum prison sentence of one year along with a license suspension. I also read that DWI offenses are not expugnable in most states. For example, someone convicted of a DWI first offense will not be able to expunge his or her record in the state of Florida.

The state of Florida feels that crimes like this are a public safety issue and therefore do not allow these types of crimes to be expunged. So if you are convicted of DUI in Florida it does not matter what type of dui lawyer you have you will always have a criminal record. I don't know if people realize this or not.

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