A drunk driving offense is a very serious charge. In the United States, as many as forty percent of traffic deaths are alcohol related. That means that the justice system takes drunk driving offenses seriously.
Possible penalties for a drunk driving offense include punishment, fines, and treatment. The court may impose punishment so that a person can pay their debt to society. A person might also have to pay fines because their actions involved law enforcement resources.
In addition to these penalties, a person might have to get treatment. They might be monitored for alcohol use, and they might have to obtain counseling or other substance-abuse treatment. They might have to perform community service.
What is drunk driving?
In most states, the legal limit is a .08. That means if your alcohol content is a .08 or more per 210 liters of breath, you can automatically face a conviction and sentence for DUI. In Utah, the legal limit is even lower. If your alcohol levels are a .05 or higher, you can automatically face a drunk driving charge and DUI jail time.
All fifty states also have intoxicated driving offenses, too. That means that even if your alcohol levels are below the legal limit, you can still face DUI jail time and a criminal conviction if alcohol influenced your ability to drive. This applies regardless of your alcohol level.
You often face the same DUI jail time whether you’re convicted of an unlawful blood alcohol level or alcohol influenced your driving. Sometimes you can face a slightly reduced charge if alcohol impaired your ability to drive. How much jail time do you get depends on the exact conviction and the surrounding circumstances?
In the last decade, many states have passed laws enhancing penalties in cases of high blood alcohol levels. If your blood alcohol level is very high, you might face up to six months in jail instead of three months even for a first offense. The reason for these enhancements is that the law presumes that individuals with very high alcohol levels are more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
Commercial drivers can also face enhanced charges. The penalties for a drunk driver are much steeper when the driver has a commercial driver’s license. Jail time is more likely, and your driver’s commercial license may be on the line.
What about jail time?
One of the biggest questions that people ask when they’re facing a drunk driving charge is how much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI. They want to know do you go to jail for a DUI and what kind of sentence for DUI to expect. No two cases are alike, but there are typical sentences for certain offenses and circumstances.
How much jail time is typical for a DUI?
For a first drunk driving offense where there’s nothing unique about the case, jail time typically ranges from nothing to a handful of days. There must be no car crash, no injuries, no property damage and no other unusual circumstances. It’s usually important that you cooperated with the officer during the investigation.
If you’re wondering do you go to jail for a DUI, the answer is much more likely to be yes if you’re facing a second-offense charge. Many states have mandatory minimum sentences, and some judges always give a minimum term in jail. You can expect to spend a month or more in jail for a second offense.
Third and subsequent offenses
If it’s your third or subsequent drunk driving offense, the answer to do you go to jail for a DUI is almost always yes. In that case, your sentence for DUI likely includes several months or years of DUI jail time. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI is likely measured by months, if not years. You might work with an attorney to answer do you go to jail for a DUI, rather than going to a prison.
In most cases, a sentence for DUI includes probation. While you’re on probation, you’re ordered not to drink alcohol. You’ll likely have to take alcohol tests. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI increases if you violate your probation?
If you’re under twenty-one
There are different charges for people under the age of twenty-one. Many states have zero tolerance laws that punish driving with any alcohol level if the driver is under twenty-one. Penalties are often similar to an offense for a first drunk driving.
Work release and community corrections
In some cases, the state allows you to go to work while you serve time in jail. They let you go to your job each day and then come back to jail while you’re not at work. Some locations call this work release. Other jurisdictions might let you terminate your jail sentence early in exchange for intense monitoring outside of a jail cell.
There are a few different reasons that DUI jail time might include work release. The state wants you to be able to work to pay fines. You might have to pay a portion of your earnings to the jail for your room and board. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI depends on the work release policies of each local jail. It’s important to work with a skilled local attorney to find out if your sentence for DUI can include a work release.
Other possible penalties
Another serious penalty to consider when you’re facing a sentence for DUI or DWI is a driver’s license suspension. Most states have two possible forms of driver’s license sanctions for a drunk driving conviction. The first penalty is a mandatory license suspension for a period of time. The period of time for this suspension can vary. For a first offense, it typically ranges from thirty to ninety days. The suspension is mandatory, and it’s not something that a judge can waive even if they think it’s appropriate.
Usually, if you face a second or subsequent suspension, the penalties can get much worse. You can face a suspension of one year, five years, ten years or even an indefinite suspension, depending on your state. It’s then up to you to prove to the state that you’re fit to drive a motor vehicle.
Breath test revocations
You can also face a license suspension for a breath test refusal. In most cases, if you’re arrested for drunk driving, law enforcement asks you to take a breath test. There are penalties if you refuse. This is the case even if you’re not convicted of drunk driving. It’s not uncommon for the administrative revocation to last at least a year with reinstatement fees.
While you can challenge an administrative revocation for a breath test refusal, the window to request a hearing is very short. In some cases, you have as little as fifteen days to get your request for the hearing to the appropriate state agency. It’s important that you contact an attorney to work quickly on your case.
There are things that you can do
If you’re wondering if your sentence for DUI includes DUI jail time, there are things that you can do in order to put your case in a better light when it comes to you go to jail for a DUI. Working with a local attorney that knows the local laws and the courts can help you present your case in the best possible light. They can help you explore all of your possible defenses and take advantage of any diversion or drug court programs that may be available to you.
How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI depends on your exact case. A local attorney can help you evaluate your case to see if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights and help you explore do you go to jail for a DUI. To answer the question how much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI, talk with a local attorney about what to expect in your case.