What Are the Penalties for DUI or DWI?

Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence is a serious crime. The consequences vary by state, but there are some general rules that you should consider before drinking and driving.

Jail Time

In most states, the first DUI or DWI is a misdemeanor that could be punishable for up to six months in jail. If you injure or kill someone, you could face felony charges which would include a jail sentence of many years. For your second or third DUI/DWI, you could also be sentenced to jail for a longer time frame. Some states offer alternative sentencing programs, which are very strict and require community service and attending programs like Al-Anon. Minors do not get a break on a DUI/DWI. The consequences for minors is often harsher because they are not supposed to be drinking in the first place.

Fines and Fees

The court may also make you pay a fine for a DUI/DWI, even if you go to jail. Depending on the court, it could run from $500 up to $2,000. You may also be responsible for court costs. Financially, a DUI/DWI is going to be expensive. You may even have to pay to attend a substance abuse rehab or classes. If there was property damage or an injured victim when you were driving while intoxicated, you may have to pay restitution to the victim as well. 

Administrative Issues

In addition to criminal penalties, you will most likely have your license suspended. It could be automatically handled by the state’s motor vehicle division, regardless of guilt or innocence. To reinstate your license, you’ll likely have to pay a fee and may even have to install a breathalyzer. You may be able to get a hardship license that lets you drive to work or school, but not all states offer this option.

Other Consequences

Your insurance company will likely increase your rates. A DUI/DWI charge stays on your record permanently. You can’t move to get away from it. Some insurance companies may cancel your policy. A DUI can also prohibit you from getting certain jobs, such as being a bus driver or commercial driver. You will most likely lose your CDL, even if you weren’t on the job when you were driving under the influence. Accident victims may choose to sue you in civil court to recoup their financial damages.

Because the consequences for DWI last so long, if you are charged with DUI or DWI, you should consult an attorney, like a criminal defense attorney from The Morales Law Firm, before pleading guilty. He or she can help you find the best possible outcome for your situation and protect your rights.