Understanding Your Legal Options: DUI Penalties
Each time a drunk driver takes the wheel, 29 people die. That's one life every 50 minutes lost to the dangers of drunk driving.
As a result, about 1 million drivers are arrested for Driving Under the Influence annually. Though drunk driving is still a common occurrence, many people aren't aware of the potential DUI penalties.
Do you know what your options are if you're arrested for driving under the influence? Keep reading to learn more! In this guide, we'll review what happens if you get a DUI.
Then, you can find a qualified DUI lawyer and review your legal options.
Learn more about your legal rights in a DUI case today.
First, it's important to recognize that your potential DUI penalties can differ based on the state your in. Your punishment can also increase based on how many times you've received a DUI conviction. In other words, DUI cases are considered priorable offenses.
Your punishment could increase with every conviction you receive within a 10-year window.
If you're convicted of a DUI, it's important to contact a DUI lawyer right away. They can help you navigate the complexities of DUI laws. They can also help you explore your legal options to find the option that best suits your case.
After receiving a DUI, the police will likely suspend your license.
You can still get your license suspended even if you aren't convicted of a DUI in criminal court. Your local Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend your license if you drove with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher.
What happens if you get a DUI and you're convicted?
The Department of Motor Vehicles might also impose a suspension in addition to suspending your license. In most states, these two suspensions can overlap. You won't have to complete two full, separate suspensions.
How long will you have your license suspended? It can depend based on the state you're in. If this is your first DUI offense, the DMV might suspend your license for 30 days.
Other states could suspend your license for over a year.
You could face an increased license suspension if:
- You refused to take a chemical test
- Your blood alcohol concentration was above 0.15%
- You have prior DUIs
If this is your third or fourth DUI, the state could revoke your driver's license permanently.
In addition to revoking your driver's license, the courts could also:
- Confiscate your license plate
- Immobilize your vehicle
- Forfeit your vehicle
- Mark 6 points on your driver's license
Some states will allow you to receive a hardship license during your suspension period. A hardship license will allow you to drive to work or school during your suspension.
Fines and Fees
You'll likely have to pay fines and fees along with your additional DUI penalties.
For a first-time offense, you'll likely have to pay $500 in fines. It's likely you'll have to pay additional fees as well, including your court and license-reinstatement fees. In all, these fees could stack up to a few hundred dollars.
Make sure to speak with your DUI lawyer about reducing the fines and fees you'll need to pay.
There are also a few aggravating factors that can increase your sentencing.
For example, you might receive a more severe DUI penalty if your blood alcohol content level is 0.15% or higher. Other aggravating factors include:
- Being under the age of 21
- Causing a car accident
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test
- Having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle with you
These aggravating factors could increase how much you'll need to pay in fines. If someone dies or sustains a serious injury, you could pay between $1,000 and $10,000 in fines.
If any of these situations sound familiar, make sure to contact a DUI lawyer right away. Look for a lawyer with years of experience specializing in DUI cases. Their prior experience can ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Many states require mandatory jail time, even for a first DUI conviction. These sentences can last anywhere between 24 hours and a week.
Your sentence could increase for subsequent offenses.
For example, you could face up to 6 months in a county jail for a first-time misdemeanor DUI. If your case didn't involve aggravating factors, the city attorney might offer a plea deal. In other counties, a first-time DUI could require 6 to 10 days in jail.
If you receive a second misdemeanor DUI offense within 10 years of the first, you could spend a maximum of one year in county jail.
Make sure to speak with your DUI lawyer about potential jail time. Remember, sentencing can differ based on where the crime occurs.
If you're convicted of drinking and driving, the state could install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. These alcohol detecting machines are similar to a breathalyzer. They're attached to the car's ignition system.
In order to drive your car, you'll need to first blow into a tube to verify that you're alcohol-free.
The ignition interlock device could require you to provide breath samples at random intervals. If there's alcohol on your breath at any time, the car won't stop. Instead, the device will report the positive test to the court or probation department.
In some states, you're required to use an interlock device, even for a first offense. In other states, it's only necessary if your blood alcohol level was 0.15% or higher.
You'll have to pay the cost of installing and maintaining the device.
Some states require DUI offenders to participate in treatment or education programs after they're convicted. You might need to complete a substance abuse education course. Other programs are available as well.
Other alternative DUI penalties include electronic monitoring/house arrest, community service, or roadside work. You could also reside in a sober-living environment as part of your treatment.
DUI Penalties: Exploring Your Legal Options
Are you facing potential DUI penalties? Make sure to discuss these legal options with an experienced DUI lawyer. They could help you reduce your sentence if you're convicted of a DUI.
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