Legal Guide

DUI or DWI Punishments and Penalties

People who are charged with driving while intoxicated or under the influence may have to face certain consequences depending on the state. Even though it’s clearly established that nobody should drive while they’re under the influence, some people are ignoring that and still take the risk. Therefore, punishments apply and if the person is found guilty, they will be penalized. 

So, before you get a DWI defense attorney, you need to know what punishments you may have to face for your offense. Here is a list of the penalties or punishments you may have to deal with:

  • Fines

One of the most common penalties is getting a fine. If you’re caught driving under the influence and it’s proven that you’re guilty, then you may have to deal with as much as between $500 and $2,000 in fines. This applies even if we’re talking about a first offense. 

In some situations, the charged persons may have to install an ignition interlock device and pay for it themselves. This device will make it so that you cannot start the car if your blood alcohol content is too high. 

  • Going to Jail

Jail time is also a possible scenario, depending on how severe the issue is. DWI or DUI is considered a misdemeanor in most states. As such, the person facing the charges may be given six months or a year in jail as punishment. 

Everything depends on the state. In New Jersey, for instance, if you’re doing this for the first time, you will only be given 30 days in jail. Meanwhile, in states like Colorado, you get 5 days for a first offense, 10 days for a second offense, and 60 days for your third. 

  • Problems with the Driver’s License

Another penalty is that you’ll have your driver’s license taken away for a certain amount of time. How much your license will be suspended for depends on whether you had other convictions in the past or not. In California, for instance, if you’re at your first conviction, then your license will be taken away for six months. If you’re at the second one, you will live without your driver’s license for two years, and if it’s your third, it will be taken away for three years. 

There are other scenarios for when the driver refuses to take a breath, blood, or urine test. When something like this occurs, the license could also be suspended for a longer period than it would have if the driver would have agreed to be tested. 

  • Education and Treatment

It is also possible for the driver with a DUI or DWI conviction to go through alcohol abuse treatments or education programs. This could help the person get rid of alcohol issues and possibly prevent driving under the influence in the future. There are situations when this is the penalty given for a first offense, and it may be along with a license suspension and probation. You may also have to deal with victim restitution and community service, depending on the case. 

Final Thoughts

Knowing what punishments and penalties you may face in case of a DUI or DWI conviction could make you do your best to prevent this scenario. In the end, it’s best to stay away from your car if you had a drink or two and take a cab instead of putting yourself and others at risk. 


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