In every state, it is a crime for a driver to operate a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs. The specific offense may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating under the influence (OUI), and even operating a motor vehicle intoxicated (OMVI). Whatever the specific title, DUI laws make it unlawful for a person to operate a car, truck, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle if: Field Sobriety and Chemical Tests When a law enforcement officer makes a vehicle stop and suspects that the driver may be intoxicated, the officer will conduct a "field sobriety" test on the driver, and may ask for his or her consent to some form of chemical test for intoxication.
Field sobriety tests usually involve a police officer asking a driver to perform a number of tasks that assess any impairment of the person's physical or cognitive ability. Examples of field sobriety tests include having the driver walk a straight line, heel to toe; having he or she recite the alphabet backwards; and the officer's use of the "horizontal gaze nystagmus" (eye and penlight) test. Chemical tests can be conducted during the vehicle stop, using a Breathalyzer that measures a driver's blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), or at a hospital, where urine and blood tests can be performed.
Many states allow a driver suspected of DUI to choose which type of chemical test is administered. Refusing a Chemical Test: "Implied Consent" Laws All states have "implied consent" laws that require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of DUI. The logic behind such laws is that, by assuming the privilege of driving a vehicle on state roads and highways, drivers have effectively given their consent to DUI testing when a police officer reasonably believes the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If a driver refuses to submit to such testing, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver's license, usually for six months to a year. Often, license sanctions for test refusal are more harsh than those imposed after DUI test failure. In most states a driver's refusal to submit to a chemical test may be used to enhance the penalties imposed if he or she is eventually convicted for DUI.
For a state-by-state listing of laws associated with DUI, go here. "Per Se" and "Zero Tolerance" DUI Laws All states have DUI laws that deem "per se intoxicated" any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above a set limit (now .08 in all states). This means that drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary.
All states also carry "zero tolerance" laws that target drivers under the legal drinking age. These laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their systems (a BAC above 0.0), or with negligible BAC levels such as .01 or .02. Keep in mind that a driver may still be arrested and convicted for DUI without proof of "per se" intoxication, when other evidence of impaired driving is shown.
For example, a driver with a .06 BAC level can be found guilty of DUI if an arresting law enforcement officer testifies that he observed the driver's vehicle swerving badly, and that the driver exhibited both slurred speech and severe inattention during questioning after a vehicle stop. DUI Convictions: Criminal Penalties A DUI conviction may carry criminal penalties including fines, jail time, probation, and community service.
Some state laws impose certain minimum penalties for first-time offenses, then designate increased penalties for each offense thereafter. Severity of criminal penalties will vary according to the circumstances of the offense, including: Whether the driver has a history of DUI violations; Whether the driver was operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the DUI; Whether the DUI violation occurred while there was a child in the vehicle; Whether the DUI violation occurred simultaneously with another dangerous moving violation, such as reckless driving; Whether the DUI violation involved a car accident in which property damage occurred; Whether the DUI violation involved a car accident in which another person was injured or killed; and Whether the driver was under the legal drinking age at the time of the DUI violation.
For a state-by-state listing of certain penalties associated with DUI, go here. DUI Arrest and Conviction: Driving Privilege Penalties In addition to potential criminal penalties, a DUI arrest or conviction will have an immediate negative impact on driving privileges. Most state laws allow a motor vehicle department to immediately suspend the driver's license of any person operating a vehicle with a BAC above the state limit for intoxication, or any driver who refuses to submit to BAC testing.
The driver's vehicle may also be confiscated or impounded, and the DUI offender will likely incur significant administrative costs. This loss of driving privileges can normally occur even before a DUI conviction. Most states allow a DUI arrestee to obtain a temporary license and request an administrative hearing at which he or she may argue against license suspension, or for restoration of limited driving privileges.
As with criminal penalties, the impact of a DUI arrest or conviction on driving privileges will vary according to the driver's history of DUI violations and the severity of the offense. An increasingly popular DUI penalty, especially for repeat offenders, is mandatory installation of an "ignition interlock" device on the offender's vehicle. This breath-testing device measures the vehicle operator's BAC, and will prevent operation of the vehicle if more than a minimum amount of alcohol is detected, such as BAC level of .
02. Where this punishment is utilized, most states require the DUI offender to pay costs of installation, rental, and maintenance of the ignition interlock device. Rental fees alone can amount to as much as three dollars per day, so a DUI offender's expenses can add up quickly when an ignition interlock device is required. For a state-by-state listing of certain penalties associated with DUI, go here.
Plea Bargains in DUI Cases Due to recent law enforcement trends that focus on preventing DUI by penalizing offenders harshly, most district attorney offices refuse to negotiate plea bargains in DUI cases. This is especially true if evidence of the violation is strong. In fact, many states have enacted laws that prohibit government attorneys from entering into plea bargains with DUI defendants. However, in rare cases a DUI charge may be reduced to a lesser offense like reckless driving or an "open beverage" violation.
Get Free Legal Advice from an Experienced DUI Attorney A conviction for a DUI can not only set you back a few thousand dollars, plus the cost of getting by without transportation, but you may be sentenced to time behind bars. A DUI attorney can help you get a much better outcome for your case, whether it's a reduced charge, probation instead of jail time, or a solid defense leading to dropped charges or a not-guilty verdict.
Get started today by having a DUI attorney review your case at absolutely no charge.See Also: First Baptist Church Vandalia
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First DUI Convictions Will Show Up On Your Record The fact of the matter is that an offender’s first DUI conviction, even a misdemeanor DUI, not only shows up on their record, but it is also the reason many people lose out on the chance to rent or buy a home, miss job opportunities, or become ineligible for scholarships and other types of financial aid. The best chance of ensuring this does not happen to you is getting your charges dismissed or reduced.
Police may have honorable intentions in trying to keep drunk drivers off the road, but for first-time DUI offenders, they can sometimes be too harsh or even use scare tactics to get drivers to submit to breathalyzer testing or participate in field sobriety tests, which have led to many innocent drivers being stuck with DUI arrests on their record. This is why you need sound legal representation by your side, so you have the best chance of walking away clean.
Penalties for First DUI Offenses If you get picked up for a first DUI, it’s not unfair to assume that you will receive probation if you are convicted. While this does happen with most first-time DUI offenders, the court may assign other penalties as conditions of that probation, some of which include the following: Possible time in jail, depending on the laws of your state A driver’s license suspension Fees and fines Raised car insurance rates Community service Mandatory attendance in a drug/alcohol treatment program or DUI school Possible use of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle Even misdemeanor DUI offenses in most states will require that you serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence, even if it’s only for a few days.
While states may differ on jail sentences, they virtually all will suspend your driver’s license for a specific amount of time. Also, depending on your criminal and driving histories, it’s possible you might qualify for a hardship driver’s license or an occupational license, so you can drive yourself to school or work. Aggravating Factors for First DUIs In general, a first DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor, leading to community service, fines, a license suspension, and probation in many cases.
However, there are other factors that can affect the nature or level of your charge, leading to greater penalties and sentences. Several possible aggravating factors include the following: Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 0.15 percent Being involved in an accident Causing property damage Causing bodily injury Refusing a chemical test to determine BAC Having one or more children under 14 years of age in the vehicle Having a past DUI conviction within the previous 10 years Being on probation Being under 21 years of age Driving on a revoked or suspended license Excessive speeding Reckless driving As another example, if a driver has an open container of alcohol in their vehicle, they might still be charged with only a misdemeanor DUI, but the subsequent fine or jail sentence may be increased.
If there were children in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, however, a driver could see their charge elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony, even if the driver had no prior DUI convictions. The administrative element of DUI charges is also something first-time offenders need to consider, often seen through the loss of driving privileges due to a license suspension. For instance, most U.S. states will suspend a driver’s license automatically up to a year if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, and this suspension is separate from the one you would receive later for a DUI conviction.
Conditions for a Driver’s License Suspension To get your driver’s license back quickly after losing it to a DUI conviction, it’s likely you will need to deal with a criminal law judge and an administrative law judge. If you are caught driving out on the road while you have a driver’s license suspension, you will only find yourself facing new fines and charges. Additionally, some states may also require that drivers install and then pay for an IID while their case is pending or after their initial license suspension.
After a state-designated IID installer has installed it in your vehicle, the IID will run as high as $200 a month to maintain. Failing to fulfill this condition could result in your bond getting revoked, thus sending you back to jail. How First DUI Changes Car Insurance and Employment When a first-time DUI arrest, charge, or conviction goes on your record, the level of risk you present for potential employers and insurance companies increases significantly.
Because a DUI becomes part of your criminal history, employers can learn about it due to any runs on criminal backgrounds that they make. Some employers will choose not to employ you, because they see you as a liability and a safety risk or because there is a chance of their insurance rates potentially increasing. Because of the elevated risk you present as a DUI offender, you should also get ready for your car insurance rates to increase in the aftermath of your conviction.
The logic behind this is that because you have proven yourself to be a dangerous driver, the insurance company must do what it can to protect itself against the liability you present as a past DUI offender and as a potential future DUI offender. If you ended up in an accident because of a DUI, and the offense was raised to a felony charge, the insurance company might not cover the costs of the accident.
Most insurance policies do not cover damages that occurred during the commission of a felony, such as with felony DUI offenses. If you want the best chance of getting your first DUI charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge, such as wet reckless or reckless driving, don’t rely on the public defender—you need a solid, experienced DUI attorney on the case to get you out of the courtroom and back into your normal life.
First DUI Offense Penalties By State State of Violation Min. Jail Sentence Fines & Fees License Suspension IID Required Alabama No minimum $600-$2,100 90 days N Alaska 72-hour minimum $1,500 90-day minimum Y Arizona 24-hour minimum $250+ 90-360 days Y Arkansas Up to one year $150-$1,000 6 months Y California 4 days & up to 6 months $1,400-$2,600 1-10 months Only in some counties Colorado Up to 180 days (DWAI) – Up to 1 year (DUI) Up to $500 for DWAI, up to $1,000 for DUI DUI 9 months N Connecticut 2 days & up to 6 months $500-$1,000 1 year N Delaware 0-6 months $500-$1,500 1-2 years N D.
C. 0-90 days $300-$1,100 6 months N Florida 6-9 months $500-$2,000 180-365 days Y Georgia Up to 1 year $300-$1,000 1-year max N Hawaii No minimum $150-$1,000 90 days N Idaho Up to 6 months $1000 max 90-180 days N Illinois Up to 1 year $2,500 max 1-year minimum Y Indiana 60 days to 1 year $500-$5,000 2-year max N Iowa 48 hours to 1 year $625-$1,200 180 days If BAC is over .10 Kansas 48 hours+ $750-$1,000 30 days Y Kentucky No minimum $600-$2,100 90 days N Louisiana 2 days to 6 months $1,000 90 days Judged by individual case Maine 30 days $500 90 days N Maryland Up to 2 months (DWI), Up to 1 year (DUI) Up to $500 for DWI, up to $1,000 for DUI Minimum of 6 months for either violation N Massachusetts Up to 30 months $500-$5,000 1 year N Michigan Up to 93 days $100-$500 6 months max Judged by individual case Minnesota Up to 90 days $1,000 90 days max Y Mississippi Up to 48 hours $250-$1,000 90 days N Missouri Up to 6 months $500 max 30 days Judged by individual case Montana 2-180 days $300-$1,000 6 months Judged by individual case Nebraska 7-60 days $500 max 60 days max N Nevada 2-180 days $400-$1,000 90 days Judged by individual case New Hampshire No minimum $500-$1,200 6 months N New Jersey Up to 30 days $250-$500 3-12 months Judged by individual case New Mexico Up to 90 days $500 max 1-year max Y New York No minimum $500-$1,000 6 months Y North Carolina 1 day to 12 months depending upon level of offense $200 for level 5 offense 60-365 days N North Dakota No minimum $500-$750 91-180 days N Ohio 3-180 days $250-$1,000 Minimum 6 months, maximum 3 years N Oklahoma 5 days with a 1 year maximum $1,000 max 30 days N Oregon 48 hours or 80 hours of community service $1,000-$6,250 1 year Y Pennsylvania n/a $300 No minimum Yes if chemical test is refused Rhode Island Up to 1 year $100-$500 2-18 months N South Carolina 2-90 days $400-$1,000 6 months N South Dakota Up to 1 year $1,000 30-365 days N Tennessee 2 days with an 11-month maximum $350-$1,500 1 year Y Texas 3-180 days $2,000 max 90-365 days N Utah Minimum of 48 hours Minimum of $700 120 days N Vermont Up to 2 years $750 max 90 days N Virginia Minimum of 5 days Minimum of $250 1 year If BAC is .
15 or higher Washington 24-hour minimum with maximum of 1 year $865.50-$5,000 90-365 days Y West Virginia Up to 6 months $100-$1,000 15-45 days Judged by individual case Wisconsin n/a $150-$300 6-9 months N Wyoming Up to 6 months $750 max 90 days If BAC is .15 or higher