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Penalties for DUI and DWI

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What Are the Potential Penalties for Being Caught Drunk Driving?

In order to get an exact answer to this you will have to read you state and local driving laws. One helpful resource can be picking up a Driving Manual from your local Department of Motor Vehicles. There are some penalties that are fairly common in most jurisdictions: 

  • For a first offense, some of the possible penalties are a fine, suspension or restriction of the convicted individual's driver's license, attending a DUI education course, and being sentenced to probation for up to 3 years. There is even the possibility of a prison sentence being tacked on.
  • For a second offense, you will be subject to the same kind of penalties, only they may be more severe this time (e.g., a greater fine or longer probation period), plus you more likely than not have to serve time in prison.

Are There Certain Circumstances that Can Make the Penalty for a DUI More Severe?

It is possible to incur what is referred to as sentence enhancement when you are convicted of a DUI charge if certain circumstances are present. The most common one, as already mentioned, is if you have been convicted of the same offense within 5 years.  There are some other facts that could increase the penalty in a DUI conviction: 

  • If your blood alcohol level was over 0.2%
  • If you were going 20 to 30 mph over the speed limit
  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test
  • A violation of zero tolerance laws (i.e., a person under 21 caught driving drunk)
  • If in the process of driving drunk you hurt anyone else or damaged any property. An injury caused to another person while driving drunk can incur some major penalties. Causing injury to another person can increase a drunk driving conviction to a felony, and if the person is killed it can even become a manslaughter charge, or in some states like California a murder charge

What Should I Do If I Have Been Arrested for Driving under the Influence of Alcohol?

You should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. The criminal justice system can be very complex and confusing to navigate without help from an experienced attorney. A DWI Lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights and let you know what kinds of defenses you may be able to use to fight your charge.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-08-2018 04:58 PM PST

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