Penalties of a DUI/DWI Charge
Penalties for a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction are wide-ranging, but it is important that you understand the consequences of your actions if you choose to drink and drive. Most people are aware that your driver’s license can be suspended if you are caught drinking and driving, but their awareness of the penalties does not extend far enough for them to be deterred from drinking and driving: Jail time. Yes, you can receive a jail or prison sentence for a DUI conviction. Many drivers seem to mistakenly believe that this is a “slap on the wrist” sort of charge and that nothing very bad will happen to you. Wrong.
Suspension of your driver’s license. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to a year, but under certain conditions it could be revoked, which means permanent loss. If you refuse to cooperate with standardized field sobriety tests or chemical tests such as breath, blood, or urine tests when requested by law enforcement, your driver’s license is suspended. In many states, suspension of the driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for the first DUI offense is one year; for the second offense, three years; for the third offense, five years.
Expensive fines. Fines can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and that is in addition to all of the other monetary costs you pay such as impoundment fees, astronomical insurance rates, court costs, attorney’s fees, installation of an ignition interlock device – the list is extensive. Probation. As a condition of your conviction, you may be required to meet with a probation officer weekly.
Minimum mandatory penalties. These penalties can be imposed on drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration above the county or state’s maximum allowable level (usually .08 percent) or drivers refusing to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing for blood-alcohol content.
Community service. Performing community service is often a condition of your sentence. The hours assigned vary at the courts’ discretion. Job loss or limited opportunities. Drivers with a DUI on their record may find certain jobs closed to them, such as driving a vehicle for a city, county, state, or federal job; professional driving jobs such as delivery vans or driving any vehicle as part of their employment. You could face losing your job if it requires a clean driving record.Loss of vehicle. Permanent loss of your vehicle is a possibility, particularly if drugs were involved.Alcohol education or ‘driving school’: Classes may be a mandatory part of your sentence, depending on where you were arrested.
Civil liability. You may face separate prosecution under civil law for property damages or bodily injuries on another person.
Ignition interlock installation. This device is attached to the convicted driver’s vehicle and requires a clean breath test before the vehicle will start. Underage drivers face even harsher penalties if they have even a trace of alcohol in their systems, in some states. If they reach the widespread state limit of .08 percent BAC, they may be tried as adults.Those drivers with an unusually high BAC (often .15 percent or higher) face additional fines and jail time on top of the typical sentencing in most states. Other factors that increase the level of punishment include having a minor in the car at the time of arrest, having an accident with injuries or deaths resulting from the accident, or an accident causing property damage. In addition to crimes involving alcohol and driving a vehicle, there are other offenses of which everyone should be aware:
It is illegal to sell alcohol to a person who is obviously intoxicated. The situation may arise that the intoxicated person commits a crime such as DUI or is harmed through drinking excessively. The person providing the alcohol is at risk of bearing some liability.
Open container laws vary between states, and you should be aware of the implications in your state and those you visit. Some states allow no open alcoholic beverages in a vehicle, while others allow passengers to have alcohol. The most restrictive laws state that no bottle, container, or can in the automobile – including the glove box – may have a broken seal. Penalties can range from points assessed against the driver’s license to revocation of underage passengers’ licenses.
Most states do not allow public consumption of alcohol, but this varies widely and by event and location.