Driving under the influence is illegal in every state, but not all states carry the same laws regarding this crime. Each DUI arrest made across the country is treated individually, and the law is used to determine the penalties used to punish the guilty party. When you are arrested and charged with a DUI, you have a chance to enter a plea. You can do this yourself or you can have your attorney do this on your behalf. When you enter a plea, you tell the judge if you are guilty, not guilty, or you can plead no contest.
If you plead not guilty, the court is required to allow you a fair trial. You or your attorney can work to prove the fact you were not guilty, or you can work to prove the arrest was not properly handled so it’s dismissed and all charges are dropped. DUI penalties are serious across the country, but it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint specifically what penalties one person will face without knowing the details of their arrest.
Basic Penalties of a DUI Arrest
Everyone who is arrested for a DUI is going to face charges pursuant to state law in the state where the arrest occurred. Every state is different, but the penalties are very similar in most states.
– Jail time
– Community service
– Mandatory court-ordered alcohol treatment program completion
– Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID)
– License suspension
These are the basic penalties. The amount of jail time, fines, community service, and the length of time you spend in treatment, with an IID in your vehicle, and with your license suspended depends on state law as well as the details of your arrest.
The penalties are usually less severe if this is the first time you are arrested for a DUI. If you’ve been arrested before, you face more serious charges. Fines go up for each arrest, jail time gets a little longer with each arrest, and the court makes decisions about the rest each time you are arrested and charged with a DUI. The more you’ve been charged, the more likely you are to find out your license is permanently revoked.
Additional Penalty Considerations
These penalties might not always be light if you are a first-time offender, either. There are circumstances in which you find being a first-time offender no longer matters.
– If you have a minor child in the car
– If you have an excessive blood-alcohol content level
– If you are not yet 21
– If you have a CDL
– If you injure or kill someone
Anyone with a minor child in the car is automatically punished more seriously for a DUI than someone who was alone or in the car with other adults. If you are not yet 21-years-old, you are also given different punishments. If you have a commercial driver’s license, you could lose it if you are arrested for a DUI. If someone is hurt or killed in an accident because you were driving under the influence, you are charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
When you go to jail for a felony crime, you spend a lot more time in jail. The fines are higher, the family of the victim can sue you, and you might lose your license for a long time. You might also find it difficult to find employment with a felony record. Your entire life changes negatively if someone is hurt or injured in an accident because you were driving under the influence.
It’s also helpful to know the legal limit laws are not the same in every situation. Anyone who is underage is over the legal limit at .02 percent. However, some states have a zero-tolerance policy for any underage drinkers behind the wheel, and they don’t need to reach that level to have a DUI. Drivers with a CDL are above the legal limit at .04 percent.
The legal limit in every state is .08 percent, but it’s considered excessive at .15 percent in most states. if your BAC is above this limit, the penalties for your DUI are more serious based on the sheer amount of alcohol in your blood. Call a driver, ask a friend to take you home, or stay where you are.
Call an Attorney
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, call an attorney who specializes in DUI cases. This is the kind of case you want to be handled professionally every step of the way. You have the right to an attorney, and it’s in your best interest to use that right and hire someone to work for you if you choose to plead not guilty in a DUI case. You have options, and an attorney is the best person to fight for your rights.