When charged with DUI, there are a number of DUI penalties that can be faced if convicted. The key is to get the help of an attorney to avoid conviction, but there are times when a conviction is inevitable or a guilty plea for a lesser DUI charge is the key to moving on with life much sooner. The exact DUI penalties depend on state law, as well as any aggravating factors that are present. Aggravating factors include a minor being present in the vehicle at the time of the offense, an open alcoholic beverage in the vehicle, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is several times higher than the legal limit, and the presence of previous DUI offenses on your record.
If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, it’s very important to understand the DUI penalties and what they entail so you can be prepared. Understanding the DUI penalties also underscores the importance of having an attorney working to minimize the charges as much as possible so the DUI penalties and long-term collateral consequences, such as having a criminal record, aren’t as harsh. The common DUI penalties are outlined below to give you an idea of what you could be facing if you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
First-Time and Second-Time offenses
There are a number of common DUI Penalties regardless of whether the DUI is a misdemeanor or a felony. If a DUI is classified as a misdemeanor, jail time can be as much as 90 days in many states. In other states, the jail time can be as much as six months for a misdemeanor offense. Felony DUI can result in legal DUI penalties that consume years of a person’s life. Certain circumstances can increase the time spent in jail, such as having a blood alcohol concentration two to three times the legal limit in the state. Even if the offense is a first-time offense, the DUI penalties can be harsh.
With that said, you may be asking, “What are the penalties for a first time DUI? Is your license suspended on a first DUI offense? What is the punishment for second DUI?”
These are good questions because aggravating factors can influence how strict the DUI penalties are for a first-time offense and a second-time offense. If there is a minor under 16 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the charge is increased to one with stricter DUI penalties. In many states, license suspension is automatically one of the DUI penalties even in the absence of an aggravating factor.
This suspension or revocation can be as little as 30 days and as much as a year for a first-time offender, but up to 3 years or more for a second-time offender. If a person needs to drive to go to and from work or school, there are some concessions that can be made. For instance, the vehicle can be outfitted with an ignition interlock device that performs a breath test when the car is started and random tests while in operation. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle is disabled and a report submitted. The ignition interlock device is installed at the vehicle owner’s expense.
The DUI penalties for a 2nd DWI are even stricter. Jail time is increased, fines are increased, and the option to have an ignition interlock device or even whiskey plates on the car may diminish. Whiskey plates tell law enforcement that the driver of the vehicle has a DUI conviction and the driver is required to display the plates for a specific amount of time.
States have different rules for allowing people to drive after DUI, such as a DMV DUI license that allows limited operation. Perhaps the limitation is to certain times of the day or for certain purposes.
How Much Is the Fine for DUI?
DUI fines constitute the most common of DUI penalties. Even if a person manages to avoid jail time, the fines will need to be paid. Even when jail time must be served, the fines don’t go away. The fees can be as little as $500 and extend into the thousands of dollars depending on how many DUI offenses a person has had in the past or other aggravating factors that may be present. The mandatory fines that must be paid depend on the state where the offense occurred.
In the case of DUI license revocation or suspension, there are costs associated with this. How much does a revoked licence from DUI cost you in the end? Having your license reinstated can cost hundreds of dollars. Of course, you have to have the fines imposed by the court paid before you can pursue the reinstatement of your license.
If you’re wondering “how to get my license back after DUI,” the procedures differ by state. The most common procedure is to pay all applicable fines before taking a class that you have to pay for. After you take the class, you qualify for license reinstatement under the condition that you pay the reinstatement costs.
Depending on the state, jail time may be a mandatory sentence for DUI. Sometimes it can be avoided if a plea is entered for an alternative charge that comes with lesser DUI penalties or the attorney may be able to negotiate where state law allows. Many states have a mandatory jail sentence of just a few days at first. It’s one of the most difficult DUI penalties outside of high fines and the possibility of loss of license. Jail is certainly not a pleasant experience, which is why it’s important to try and get out as soon as possible with the help of a lawyer.
DUI Penalties for Other Types of DUI Offenders
There are other types of DUI offenders and alternative DUI penalties for them. Drivers under the age of 21 cannot have a blood alcohol concentration above a certain percentage. Some states have “not a drop” laws, while others will allow a BAC of .02%. Some states impose adult sentences for minors, but the most common DUI penalties are a one-year license suspension, classes, community service, and other DUI penalties that the court deems appropriate.
When a minor is charged with DUI, the reinstatement of their driver’s license can be very difficult. The cost can also be very high. Fortunately, the DUI doesn’t remain on the permanent record of a minor after they turn 18. Only law enforcement or government entities can see the juvenile record.
Commercial drivers may also face a range of DUI penalties. A commercial truck driver isn’t to have a BAC of more than .04 in most states. While this isn’t considered intoxicated under normal circumstances, it is for someone driving a large vehicle. Not only does a commercial driver have to face legal consequences, but they can lose their commercial driver’s license, which can cause them to lose their job.
Long-Term DUI Penalties
The legal DUI penalties aren’t the only consequences that a person faces. Their insurance company may cancel their policy or increase their rates. There’s also the mark that is applied to the driving record. If you have a mark on your driving record, you may know how difficult it is to get a job that requires a perfect record. There’s also the criminal record that landlords and employers can see. DUI isn’t an expungable offense in many states, so the effects can be long-lasting and the DUI penalties can be harsh.
The severity of DUI penalties highlights why it is important to seek the representation of an experienced DUI lawyer. With legal help, you can effectively fight the DUI penalties by having the charges completely dismissed or making a deal to have them reduced. Even if a conviction is imminent and DUI penalties must be paid, a lesser charge can have a less serious impact on your future. You don’t have to sit back and accept the charges because you feel guilty. You would be surprised at what circumstances may exist that could result in you having a better future.