What's the Penalty for DWI?
If you have been arrested for DUI the consequences and penalties are severe. Did you know that a drunken driving conviction may result in a license suspension, higher insurance premiums, mandatory jail time, mandatory installation of an interlock device and a criminal record? Did you know that a DUI arrest and DUI conviction may impact your ability to find employment, cause a suspension or revocation of your professional license, or threaten other unrelated legal cases such as a divorce or child custody?
DUI laws and the severity of the DUI penalties vary by state, but regardless of where you live it is illegal in every state to operate a motorized vehicle with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. This is called per se intoxication. Law enforcement officers may also arrest you for DUI, regardless of your blood alcohol concentration, if they suspect that you are unable to safely operate your vehicle and you are a danger to yourself or others.
A lot of jokes have been made about people who are drunk. Drunk Driving, however, is not a laughing matter. Each year thousands of people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents in the United States where drunk driving is involved.
In addition to this, thousands more are stopped and arrested for DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) each year in the United States. These two terms, DUI and DWI, are being used interchangeably more and more across America to mean the same thing.
DUI Arrest and an Administrative License Suspension
If a police officer suspects you are driving under the influence of alcohol they will ask you to submit to a standardized field sobriety test. You are asked to perform the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The law enforcement officer evaluates your performance and attempts to establish probable cause for your DUI arrest.
The officer may also ask you to submit to a chemical test. Most chemical tests are breathalyzer tests, but the officer has the legal authority to ask you to submit to a blood or urine test. Whether you submit to chemical test and fail or you refuse to submit to the test, the police officer has the legal authority to immediately revoke your license. In some states you may be given a temporary license which will allow you to drive before the suspension begins.
In most states an administrative license suspension will last from 30-90 days for first time offenders. If you have multiple DUI arrests and convictions you may lose your license for much longer. But did you know that the Administrative license suspension is in addition to more severe criminal charges? What should you do next?
What is an Administrative License Suspension?
Drivers who pulled over on suspicion of DUI may be asked to submit to a chemical test. Most drivers do not realize that if they refuse to submit to the test they could be subject to an Administrative License Suspension and they could automatically lose their driver's license for 30 to 90 days. Drivers who have multiple DUI convictions may face much longer DUI license suspensions.
Under state's implied consent laws, Drivers who are operating a motorized vehicle have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test per agreement with the Department of Motorized Vehicles. Police officers may also have the legal authority to confiscate your license immediately following a test refusal. Administrative license suspensions are in addition to other DUI criminal charges which may be filed against your by a criminal court.
If you have failed or refused to take a chemical test and your license has been confiscated or revoked, it is time to contact a DUI lawyer. DUI lawyers can review your DUI arrest and make sure the arresting officer followed the correct DUI procedures.
The greatest consequence of driving under the influence is having to live for the rest of your life with the guilt of causing the death of another human being. As mentioned at the beginning, each year thousands of people are killed in motor vehicle accidents where drunk driving is involved.
Even if this is your first DUI arrest, you may face time in jail and a long driver's license suspension. In many states, judges are being required to give out stricter DUI penalties and fines. Other DUI penalties and consequences you may face for first time DUI charges are alcohol evaluations and mandatory attendance at drug and alcohol classes (DUI School) and community service.
Community service can involve several things. Some of these are:
- Removing litter from highways
- Speaking before groups about the dangers of driving under the influence
- Volunteering at a charity
- Assisting anti-DUI groups.
If you have been convicted of DUI charges in the past, your DUI penalties and consequences will be much greater. You might face mandatory time in jail, a longer driver's license suspension, and higher court costs and fines. These costs, fees and fines can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
There are certain circumstances that can enhance your legal DUI penalties and consequences. Some of these are:
- Having an excessively high BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
- Causing an injury or accident while driving under the influence
- Transporting a minor while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drivers who are under the age of 21 may also face enhanced DUI penalties and consequences. This is because of “Zero Tolerance” laws in many states across America. The purpose of these laws is to inflict more severe penalties and consequences where DUI and Minors are involved.
In addition to the legal DUI penalties and consequences, you may face problems with your employer. Many employers require a clean criminal and/or driving record. You may lose your current job or have difficulty finding employment in the future.
Increased auto insurance is another one of the DUI penalties and consequences you will have to deal with. In fact, you may have a hard time finding any car insurance coverage at all.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer
As you can see, DUI penalties and consequences are of an extremely serious nature. They are only going to become more and more severe in the future as states across the United States crack down harder and harder on drunk driving, DUI, DWI or however drinking and driving is referred to.
If you are facing a DUI arrest and DUI charges, it should be obvious to you by now that your DUI Defense is not a matter that you can handle by yourself. You are going to need the help of an attorney.
Who will you turn to for help? Choosing the right attorney could very well be one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. General or family attorneys are wonderful, but are they the right one to represent you on serious DUI charges that can affect you for the rest of your life?
You need a lawyer who specializes in drunk driving cases. You need a DUI Lawyer who works with this type of case everyday. DUI Laws are ever changing and complex. You do not need to place your fate and future in the hands of just any lawyer.
A good DUI Attorney may be able to minimize the damages and fines that you face. An experienced DUI lawyer may even be able to have the DUI charges against you dropped.
The penalties and consequences of a DUI arrest and conviction can last for the rest of your life. You are going to need a defense that is provided by a DUI lawyer who knows and is experienced in dealing with DUI charges, DUI law and DUI penalties and consequences.