A drunk driving charge is one of the most serious that a driver can ever face, and it is not hard to see why: drunk driving is among the most dangerous and irresponsible behaviours in which a motorist can engage. It can cause many different kinds of accidents each of which are capable of causing a lot of damage to vehicles and their occupants. For that reason society is very unforgiving of drunk drivers and that is reflected in the harsh sentences they tend to receive from judges and juries. It goes without saying that everyone should avoid that behaviour as much as possible. However, if someone does get caught driving drunk, they still have a right to defend themself against that charge.
It is recommended by experts like Orlando DUI thefloridatriallawyer.com that anyone who is charged with drunk driving get an attorney to handle their defense. The reason is that a defense attorney will give them the best chance of getting the charge reduced or even dropped. The dim view that society takes of driving while under the influence means that anyone charged with such an act could face serious consequences that could negatively affect them for the rest of their life.
Jail Time For DUI/DWI
A DUI/DWI is considered a misdemeanor in most states, which means that offenders can serve six months to a year in jail. Other states have shorter jail times of just thirty days and some states have no jail time at all for first offenses. There are some states, like Florida, that base the jail time on the offender’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Content); if their BAC is 0.08, then they will get eight hours to six months in jail, but if it is 0.15 or above, then they could face up to nine months in jail.
People who have been charged with a DUI/DWI face even longer jail times for subsequent offenses, with longer jail times the higher the number of offenses. In many states, a second DUI/DWI offense is classified as a felony and the mandatory minimum jail sentence is longer than it is for a first offense, the same goes for the maximum sentence as well. In Florida and many other states, second offenders face no less than ten days in jail, but the maximum penalty is again based on the BAC of the offender, with a higher BAC causing a longer jail sentence of up to a year.
Another factor affecting a second sentence is how closely it occurred after the first offense because some states will treat a second offense the same as a first offense if it occurred over five years after the first DUI/DWI charge. As stated earlier, more charges mean longer jail times and if a person is charged with a DUI/DWI four or more times, then they could face up to five years in a state prison. Of course, the jail sentences for DUI/DWI are also affected by whether the driver got into an accident and the amount of damage caused by that accident.
Fines For DUI/DWI
As with jail times, the fines for DUI/DWI vary by state and the same factors that affect the length of jail time also affects the amount of fines. That means the fines for first offenses are less than the fines for second offenses, and also that the fines increase with subsequent offenses. Fines can also be affected by the driver’s BAC which means that in places like Florida, a driver will get a fine of $500 to $1000 if their BAC was 0.08, but will receive a fine of $1000 to $2000 if their BAC was 0.15 or above. The maximum fine can go up to $5000 for subsequent offenses and if there are other aggravating factors like an accident with injuries, then the fine can go even higher.
License Suspensions For DUI/DWI
A driver who has been charged with a DUI/DWI stands a good chance of having their license suspended for some time. As with all the other penalties in DUI/DWI charges, the length of time of the suspension depends on other factors. A first time charge in most states can lead to a license suspension of no less than six months and up to a year. The suspension period is increased for subsequent offenses and can go from five years license suspension all the way to a permanent lifetime suspension.
The time of a license suspension can also be affected by whether or not the driver refused to take a lawfully requested breathalyzer test. If a driver refuses to take a breath test, then the time of their license suspension could be increased. Some states allow drivers to obtain a hardship license that gives them permission to drive to places like school or work. However, there are also situations where the state will take measures to make sure that anyone who has been charged with a DUI/DWI is not able to drive; those measures can include impounding the vehicle or requiring that an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) be installed on the vehicle.
Other Penalties For DUI/DWI
People who have been charged with a DUI/DWI could face other penalties aside from the jail time, license suspensions, and fines. They could face probation, they may be required to do mandatory community service, they could have their vehicles confiscated or impounded, and they might have to attend traffic school for some time. In some states, anyone who was charged with a DUI/DWI might also have to undergo an alcohol treatment program as well.
Contact an Attorney to Help You if You Were Charged With a DUI/DWI
As you can see, the penalties of a DUI/DWI charge can have long-term, life-altering effects. That is why you should contact a defense lawyer if you want the best chance of getting those penalties reduced or dropped. Everyone has the right to defend themselves against any kind of charge and you should exercise that right if you are charged with a DUI/DWI. A defense attorney can make various arguments that could help your case, such as claiming that the traffic stop was unlawful, that the breathalyzer test was faulty, and more. So be sure to contact a defense lawyer if you do not want to face the worst consequences for a DUI/DWI charge.