If you have recently been charged with a DUI or DWI, you are no doubt running scared. You may not have any idea of what is about to happen to you. You may be worrying about losing your driver’s license or even being sentenced to spend time in jail. Now is the time for you to educate yourself about the various types of DUI laws related to drinking and driving so that you will be able to deal with what the judge decides should be your penalty. The best way to get yourself prepared for the future is to hire a lawyer who can help you answer your charges and possibly get them reduced or even dismissed altogether.
Drinking and Driving Laws Will Vary from State to State
The first thing you should learn is that, while there are certain penalties for drinking and driving that will be roughly the same throughout the country, there are also some significant differences that exist from state to state. If you commit a DUI in Florida, you may not pay the same exact penalty that you would for the same offense in Oregon. However, no matter where you go within the country, the record of your past offenses will be available for a judge to pull up. If you have a history of such offenses, even if in a different state, it will be taken into account and used against you.
Are There Specific Differences Between DUI and DWI?
If you live in the state of Texas, you should be aware that there are definite legal differences between DUI and DWI. Anyone over the age of 21 who is arrested while operating a vehicle in a legally intoxicated state can be charged with a DWI. By legally intoxicated, this means a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher. While this may seem discriminatory against persons who are over the age of 21, the reverse may actually be true.
In Some Cases, Being Charged for DUI Comes Automatically
If you are under the age of 21 and pulled over with any kind of alcohol in your system, you can automatically be charged with a DUI. It is illegal throughout the entire state for anyone under the age of 21 to have any kind of alcohol in their system, under any circumstances. You should note that, even if you are under the age of 21, you can still also be charged with a DWI. Again, this is due to the zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking.
Are There Different Types of Penalties Assigned for DUI and DWI?
There are major differences in the severity of the penalties that you incur by being convicted of a DU-I or DWI. If this is the first time you have ever been convicted of a DWI offense, the judge is legally entitled to sentence to you to receive a fine of up to $2,000. Depending on how the judge reckons the severity of your offense, you may also receive time spent in prison for anywhere between 3 and 180 days. You may also have to surrender your driver’s license for up to a full year. On top of all this, you may even have to pay an annual fine of $1,000 to $3,000 for for 3 years to keep your license.
Your Penalties Will Be Lower If You Are Under the Age of 21
If you are under the age of 21 and are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence, you may receive a fine of up to $500. You may also merit a suspension of your drivers’ license that may last up to 60 days. The judge can also order you to perform anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of community service. Finally, you will very likely be ordered to attend a series of mandatory alcohol awareness classes at a state accredited institution. The severity of the penalties for both DUI and DWI will increase with each repeated offense.
DUI Is the Most Serious Drunk Driving Charge in Some States
In the state of Colorado, a DUI is generally considered the more serious of the two major types of drunk driving charges. This is due to a number of reasons. For one thing, this is a state with a very high rate of arrests for drunken driving – over 30,000 arrests on an annual basis. For another, this state has a very strict “no tolerance for alcohol usage” policy. To be considered guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you need to have a blood-alcohol percentage of over .08.
Penalties for First Time Offenders Are Stiff in Some Areas
The penalties for conviction in this state are particularly severe, especially those that involve repeat offenses. Even for a first-time conviction, the penalty is significantly higher than you may face in other areas of the country. Being convicted for a first time DUI offense will get your driver’s license suspended for nine months. You will very likely receive a fine of up to $1,000. You may also receive up to a full year in prison.
Penalties for Second Time Offenders Can Be Even harsher
For a second offense, the penalties tend to increase even further in very swift fashion. A second offense will net you a full year of revocation – not suspension of your license but the full loss of all right to operate a vehicle under any circumstances. In addition, your fine may be increased to $1,500, while you may also face a mandatory year in prison. These penalties have been imposed in an effort to send a stern warning to drivers who abuse alcohol while behind the wheel of a car and should be taken with full seriousness.
A Suspended Sentence Can Sometimes Lead to Automatic Return to Prison
When you are released from serving your jail sentence, you will be sentenced to probation lasting a minimum of two years. You may also be given another year in prison, which will be suspended pending full completion of your probation. If you fail to comply with all of the terms and conditions imposed, you will find yourself behind bars for another year. These are not theoretical penalties, but figures that represent the average severity of such a verdict in this state.
If You Don’t Know the Difference Between the Two, Don’t Guess
If you aren’t presently qualified to judge the real difference between the two major types of drunken driving charges, it’s not a good idea to guess. And it’s definitely not a good idea to try to represent yourself in court against the charges you are facing. Your best bet is to hire a qualified lawyer who can explain to you exactly what the differences between the two types of charges are. Your attorney can then let you know exactly what kind of penalties you may be facing and how to prepare for them. Finally, they can let you know if there is any realistic hope of beating or reducing the charges.
It’s Easier Than Ever to Contact a Qualified Lawyer to Represent You
You don’t have to spend too much time or effort these days to find a qualified lawyer who can you represent you at your DUI travel. You can use the resources of the web to search for an attorney who can take your case and give you an honest estimate of your chances, as well as what the entire process will cost you in legal fees. All of these can be accomplished when you schedule an initial free consultation with your lawyer. This is the recommended course of action for people who will soon be answering to these types of charges in court. The better prepared you are, the better your chances of victory.