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Factors that make a DUI more serious than just drunk driving

Perhaps you stopped off for happy hour and thought you were okay to drive home. Then, with no warning, you see lights and hear sirens coming from behind you. You pull over to the side hoping the patrol car will go past you, but instead, it follows you off the roadway. In the alternative, you may have an accident on the way home. As you sit in your vehicle dazed and confused, the police arrive and begin asking you questions.

In either case, officers suspect you of drunk driving and arrest you. Upon arrival at the police station, you find out that you face a DUI involving additional circumstances that could lead to harsher penalties if convicted.

Common DUI sentence enhancements

Every state, including Wyoming, allows authorities to increase the potential penalties for a DUI based on a variety of circumstances. Some of them include the following:

  • If your blood alcohol content is significantly over the legal limit of 0.08, generally considered to be at or above 0.15
  • If your record shows one or more DUI convictions within a certain period of time
  • If you had a child in your vehicle when police arrested you on suspicion of DUI
  • If someone suffered serious bodily injury in an accident in which impairment was a factor
  • If you refuse to submit to BAC testing in violation of the state's implied consent laws

You could also face potential enhancements to a DUI charge if you failed to have a valid driver's license, you were on probation for another offense or police found an open container of alcohol in the vehicle with you at the time of your arrest.

Take the situation seriously

Even if you disagree with the officer's assessment of the situation and don't believe any aggravating factors existed, take the situation and the allegations seriously. While a DUI may be a misdemeanor, any of the above factors could push it into a felony. This more serious charge could come with mandatory time in prison, higher fines and other penalties. Not only your freedom is at stake, however.

You need to take into consideration the impact a conviction could have on your personal and professional lives. Even if your job does not rely on driving, a felony conviction could cost your job. Time in prison keeps you away from your family, and the fines and other costs associated with the situation could result in significant financial issues. The sooner you take action, the greater the chances are that you can achieve the best outcome possible.

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