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When additional penalties for drunk driving apply

Washington drivers should know that it is against the law to drink and drive but may not know anything more specific about what could happen while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Depending on the circumstances, different charges might apply. Aggravated DUI charges carry enhanced penalties that could lead to harsh consequences if convicted.

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent. Those with a higher BAC could face standard drunk driving charges. If testing indicates that a driver's BAC was two or three times the legal limit, then aggravated DUI charges might be issued.

An aggravated DUI charge could be issued if a suspected drunk driver has minors in the vehicle. Some states add penalties if there is anyone younger than 16 while others set the age at 12 or younger.

Previous convictions may also make a difference when facing drunk driving charges. Elevated sentences might be ordered for those who have previous alcohol-related convictions. Harsher consequences may be given even if convictions happened in other states or occurred years earlier. Repeat offenders sometimes receive elevated penalties in order to deter others from becoming repeat offenders. Even if one does not have past convictions, aggravated charges could result when a motorist has a revoked or suspended license as this behavior is thought to exhibit "blatant disregard" for the law.

These are only some of the circumstances that could lead to more charges and potential punishments if convicted. The variety of situations that carry additional consequences shows how important it is to consider taking action as any incident could lead to multiple charges, and one conviction could reflect poorly on someone for a long time while raising insurance rates and hurting job prospects. Any decision about fighting charges or plea bargaining might require an attorney's assistance.

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