No matter where you live, drunk driving is a serious offense that carries hefty penalties that will impact your life for a long time – possibly as long as you live. Whether it is referred to as DUI or DWI, the consequences of a drunk-driving conviction may include jail time, probation, community services, fines, and loss of driving privileges.
What Punishments Should You Expect?
The punishment for a DUI or DWI varies depending on the state, jurisdiction, or county. Typically, the penalties depend on whether this is a first-time drinking and driving offense and whether additional punishment enhancements apply.
For a first DUI or DWI offense, the penalties include possible jail time or community service, fines, a driver’s license suspension, and mandatory attendance at a drug and alcohol education program. For a second offense, there may be a mandatory minimum jail sentence as well as a longer drug and alcohol education program. In some states, multiple offenders may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle after their release or even have their vehicle impounded. Mandatory attendance at AA meetings may also be required.
There are certain factors that may trigger additional penalties in a DUI or DWI case. These are referred to as punishment enhancers. Though punishment enhancements vary from state to state, these are the most common: transporting a child while under the influence, having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20 percent or greater, speeding above a certain limit, refusing to take a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine) to determine BAC, causing an accident, injury, or property damage. If the person who is driving under the influence is under 21, or the driver has prior DUI or DWI convictions, this will also trigger additional penalties.
Injuries Can Increase Your Charge To A Felony
There are some states where causing injury to another person, even the passenger in the drunk driver’s car, will increase the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony level. If someone is killed due to the driver’s impairment, the driver can be charged with vehicular manslaughter or even murder.
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