8. What is a sentence "enhancement"?

Most states increase the punishment in drunk driving cases if certain facts exist. The most common of these is an earlier conviction for the same or a similar offense—usually within five or seven years of the current offense. Other commonly encountered enhancements (which must usually be alleged in the complaint) include:

(1) A child was in the car at the time.
(2) The blood-alcohol concentration was over .15%.
(3) The defendant refused to submit to a chemical test.
(4) There was property damage or injury.

In most states, the existence of any personal injury caused by drunk driving elevates the offense to a felony. A death can trigger manslaughter or even, in a few states, second degree murder charges.

 
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  © 2003 James Franzen. All Rights Reserved.