Similar to other criminal charges, if you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Once guilt has been established based on your own plea or after the jury trial, the penalty imposed will be based on the laws of the state including aggravating circumstances like an accident and injuries.
Penalty for first offense DUI
In most states, first offense DUI is considered as a misdemeanour and punishable by not more than 6 months or a year of jailtime. However, there are states where the maximum jailtime for first offense DUI is only 30 days. In other states, first time DUI is not punishable by jailtime.
Second and subsequent DUI’s has a longer mandatory minimum jail sentence which is definitely longer than the first offense. However, there are factors that can possibly affect the amount of jailtime for a DUI conviction. For example, severe punishments are mandated by states for DUI offenders if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is particularly high at the time of arrest.
DUI can be classified as felony if a driver killed or injured somebody or if he has a number of previous DUI convictions or jail sentences. It is not uncommon for a driver to have DUI convictions of several years. Again, the sentence will depend on several factors like the laws of the state, the facts of the case and the judge’s discretion at the time of trial.
In some states, there are alternative sentencing options to offenders like substance abuse education and prevention programs, community service and treatment for substance abuse. These options may be recommended by the judge instead of fines or jailtime for first offenders. However, there are also instances when all the penalties are required by the judge.
DUI convictions always come with a fine that varies according to the state’s laws. Generally, the factors that can increase jailtime also increase the fines that the driver has to pay. Another punishment is suspension of license for a substantial period of time. The suspension can be mandated by the court or by the state’s motor vehicle department.
The period of suspension usually depends on the prior DUI convictions of a driver. A driver’s license can be suspended for 6 months for the first DUI conviction, 2 years for the second conviction and 3 years for the third conviction. If there is unlawful refusal to take a blood, breathe or urine test, the suspension may be longer than what the driver should face otherwise.
Some states try to ensure that the driver particularly repeat offenders do not get back on the road under the influence. The car can be temporarily or permanently confiscated or the registration cancelled. In other states, an ignition interlock device is required.
If you are arrested for DUI, your best option is to call a DUI lawyer who know the laws of the state immediately. A DUI conviction will stay on your driving record for many years and can affect the rates of your insurance policy as well as your opportunities for employment.