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DUI Penalties and Consequences

The consequences of a DUI can impact your life greatly in the short-term and the long-term. Tougher DUI laws in many states have reflected the public’s outrage at the irresponsibility of some drivers who repeatedly endanger innocent citizens.

History of DUI Laws

Over the past twenty-five years, the states have passed numerous DUI laws to try and reverse the disproportionate number of alcohol-related deaths. The legal age for drinking is now 21 in every state, and each state has also made .08 the standardized blood alcohol concentration limit. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have lobbied legislatures to toughen their DUI laws. They have been successful in getting hundreds of new, harsher DUI laws passed since the early 1980s. Two-thirds of the states have passed DUI laws that give the arresting police officer the authority to seize the license of a driver who fails or declines to take a breath test. All states have passed some sort of Zero Tolerance law that makes it illegal for any driver under the age of 21 to have any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood. Additionally, many state legislatures have gotten much tougher on repeat DUI offenders requiring mandatory jail for a driver with multiple DUI convictions. Fines associated with a DUI arrest and the length of time of a DUI license suspension has also increased. Hardship licenses to allow DUI offenders to get back and forth from work have become harder to obtain.

Repeat DUI Offenders

Although DUI laws differ by state, repeat DUI offenders can expect certain outcomes. In most cases, the DUI penalties the judge hands down are mandated by state law. Even some first-time DWI offenders may face extended DUI license suspensions and jail time. Many states have passed Habitual Violator laws which allow for harsher DUI penalties for someone convicted of three or more DUIs. These DUI offenders may lose their right to vote or to carry and own a gun. Some may lose their driver’s license for an extended period of time or even permanently. States are requiring repeat DUI offenders to complete an education and DUI evaluation program. This class is more than just sitting and listening to someone lecture them on the evils of drinking and driving. The offender must first sit down with a professional counselor and go through an evaluation interview to determine what steps the driver must complete to get their license back. Then, they are asked a series of questions to establish the extent of their drinking problem. Many states give certified counselor the power to require that the offender attend AA meetings or a medical treatment or counseling program. The DUI offender will not get their license back until they satisfy all the conditions detailed by the counselor. When they get their license back they may be required to carry SR22 insurance which costs more than regular insurance. In addition to the DUI fines and legal fees associated with a DUI conviction, the justice system can hold drunk drivers legally responsible for hurting or killing other drivers. When you choose to drink and drive, others are put at risk. Having a BAC of just .10 puts you at a seven times higher risk of causing a DUI accident that kills someone. This reality is not worth the risk; find a sober driver and save your finances, time, conscience and possibly someone’s life.