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 offenseusually 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.