When it comes to DUI penalties and consequences, each state offers its own guidelines and sentencing. While some states allow a first offense to be charged as a misdemeanor, others impose more serious penalties for convictions and when aggravating circumstances are present. Some states have mandatory minimum services while others have penalties that vary depending on the case. This is just one of several reasons you should bring your case to a law firm with experience in traffic or criminal defense like Montagna Law.
Getting a DUI is expensive with fines and costs for them ranging from $500-$2,000 depending upon the state even for a first offense.
A driver may also be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID), one of the most commonly used deterrents for repeat DUI offenses, installed on his/her dashboard. In order to start the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device that operates similarly to a Breathalyzer in that it detects the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. If it detects a certain amount of alcohol in the driver’s system, the IID will keep the car engine from starting.
“A sentence for a DUI conviction often comes with alcohol abuse treatment and educational programs that the driver is required to take.”
This type of program may assess you for alcohol addiction. For a first offense, this is often coupled with probation and license suspension or it may be combined with other requirements like community service and restitution for victims.
In many states, you will not have a long imprisonment for a first-time offense because it is treated as a misdemeanor. Many jurisdictions require a minimum jail time of one to two days if you are convicted, but the most you will face in most first offense DUI cases is six months in jail.
However, when there are aggravating circumstances like an excessively high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) or a resulting car accident in which the victim was severely injured, many states will increase that jail or prison time. Subsequent DUI offenses generally mean longer sentences. In the case of a felony DUI, in which someone was killed or badly injured, you could face a prison sentence lasting several years.
If you are convicted of DUI, all states have the possibility that your license will be suspended by the DMV of that state and/or by court order as part of your sentence. The length of this suspension will depend on your state. 90 days is a common term of suspension for a first-time offender, although some states will offer a restricted license that can be used to drive to work, school, and/or rehab during the period of suspension.
In some jurisdictions, drivers convicted of DUI have their licenses revoked. If you are pulled over and refuse to take a chemical test, your license may be suspended regardless of whether or not you are convicted.
Minors arrested for DUI may face the same penalties as an adult. Because the legal drinking age in most states is 21, a minor will likely be penalized for any amount of alcohol in his or her system. In some states, penalties for drivers under 21 are even more severe than for drivers over 21, and the driver’s license will likely be suspended in the case of conviction.
As a result of a DUI conviction, you will likely face consequences from your auto insurance provider. They will probably take away safe driver discounts and require you to pay a higher rate or file as a high-risk driver. In extreme cases, the insurance provider will cancel your insurance policy and you’ll have to find an insurer that specializes in providing high-risk insurance, which is much more expensive.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two with friends and loved ones, but make sure you or a loved one doesn’t end up with a DUI/DWI by following Montagna Law’s top tips for responsible driving.
1. Always assign a designated driver. Choose one responsible person who you can trust to stay sober and hide others’ keys if needed.
2. …but keep the number of a cab company on hand. Call Black and White Cabs (757-855-4444) in Norfolk if things get out of hand and you’re left with no designated driver.
3. Pace your alcohol intake by enjoying a glass of water between cocktails. Alcohol dehydrates, so remember to drink a lot of water.
4. Eat plenty before and during a night of drinking. If you know you will be drinking a fair amount of alcohol in the evening, prepare throughout the day by eating healthy meals full of protein and good fats.
5. If you are throwing a party, be sure to offer filling food and non-alcoholic options for guests. Readily available “mocktails” as well as water, soda and tea will enhance the evening for designated drivers as well as those guests who choose not to drink.
6. Keep an eye on friends and loved ones to help them stay safe. Never turn a blind eye to a friend with impaired judgement getting ready to drive themselves home.
7. Know your limits. Most people have a pretty good sense of when they’ve had too much to drink, but remember, “buzzed” driving is still drunk driving. Check out this blood alcohol calculator to learn more about your legal limits and avoid getting charged with DUI.
8. Refrain from drinking altogether. It may seem simplistic, but this is the best choice for anyone looking to stay responsible on the road this season.
If you do find yourself charged with a DUI despite your best safety efforts, call the Virginia DUI defense lawyers at Montagna Law. We have a strong history of finding fair treatment for our DUI clients. Call us today at 757-622-8100 or contact us online. Visit the DUI and Reckless Driving FAQ page for answers to common questions.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.