Have you or your loved one been arrested for driving while under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI)? You probably wonder what you can expect in terms of punishment should you be found guilty. And while the laws vary from state to state, there are a few basic forms of penalty most have in common. Here's what you need to know about them.
1. License Suspension
Most people who are convicted of any type of impaired driving will see their driving license suspended for a minimum time. The suspension grows longer when you have more DUI convictions and may turn into a permanent revocation. You may or may not be able to apply for hardship exclusions for things like work and school.
2. Interlocks and Other Barriers
Unfortunately, some people may still get behind the wheel even with a suspended or revoked license. So judges may add other barriers to access, including devices that lock out your car, revoked registrations, and other modern technology.
3. Fines and Penalties
Impaired driving convictions are often very expensive. This begins with fines and penalties ordered by the judge. As with most elements of DUI/DWI convictions, fines begin at lower amounts—possibly less than $1,000—and grow with any later convictions for the same offense.
4. Felonies and Misdemeanors
You may also be charged with either a lesser misdemeanor or a more serious felony. Not only do these affect if you serve any jail time (and how long), the size of fines, and how long your license is suspended, they also decide how long the aftereffects of your conviction last. For instance, felony convictions may bar you from certain jobs in the future, whereas misdemeanors do not.
5. Jail Time
Finally, there is the real possibility of being sentenced to jail time. Some states, in fact, require a certain number of days served in jail right from the first conviction. If you do end up in jail on a first offense, it's likely to be a sentence of days or weeks. However, this increases to weeks or months with each future offense.
Where to Learn More
Every impaired driving case is unique, but it's clear that even a first offense may call for an aggressive defense. Start by meeting with a qualified DUI defense attorney in your state to learn more. Their experience and knowledge of all the facets of impaired driving convictions will help you avoid the worst consequences and minimize long-term problems.Share