Legal Guide

What Is DUI?

DUI, driving under the influence, is a criminal offense. Laws prohibit anyone from operating their motor vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol, impairing their driving abilities. Under the influence typically means having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If your BAC is less than 0.08%, but at least 0.05%, other factors combined with your level of intoxication will determine if you were actually under the influence.

Alcohol can significantly interfere with a person’s mental and physical faculties. The more alcohol present in someone’s body, the more likely they’re unable to operate their car safely. The most common side effects of alcohol are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow reaction time
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Decreased alertness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Reduced motor skills
  • Lack of muscle coordination

Unfortunately, an auto accident can occur if someone drives with alcohol in their system. If injury or death results from a crash, the impaired driver could face criminal penalties, including prison time and expensive fines.

What’s the Penalty for DUI?

If you’re arrested and charged with DUI, the penalty you face will depend on the circumstances of the offense. If this is your third conviction, you could spend more time behind bars than if this is only your first. Sentencing will also depend on whether someone suffered injuries due to your drunk driving.

Sentencing guidelines for DUI are below:

First DUI Offense (misdemeanor)

BAC under 0.10%

  • Maximum of 30 days in jail
  • $400 fine
  • Driver’s license revoked for six months

BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • $500 fine
  • Six-month license revocation

BAC over 0.16%

  • No more than 90 days in jail
  • $1,000 fine
  • License revocation for six months

Second DUI Offense (misdemeanor)

BAC below 0.10%

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Maximum $5,100 fine
  • One-year license revocation

BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%

  • Maximum of two years in jail
  • Maximum $5,500 fine
  • License revoked for up to one year

BAC above 0.16%

  • Up to three years in jail
  • Maximum $6,500 fine
  • Revoked license for one year

Third Offense (misdemeanor)

BAC lower than 0.10%

  • Maximum of three years in jail
  • Maximum $6,300 fine
  • Up to four years license revocation

BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%

  • Maximum of four years in jail
  • Maximum $7,500 fine
  • License revoked for up to four years

BAC above 0.16%

  • Up to five years in jail
  • Maximum $10,000 fine
  • Up to four-year license revocation

Fourth or Subsequent Offense (felony)

  • Five to seven years in jail, depending on BAC level
  • Driver’s license revoked permanently

Penalties are harsher if you’re under the influence and cause another person great bodily injury or death. Great bodily injury includes:

  • Impairment or loss of a bodily member or organ;
  • Permanent disfigurement; or
  • Increased risk of death.

Both are felonies. If you caused someone’s great bodily injury, you could face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum of $10,100 in fines. If someone died, you could spend between one year and 25 years in prison and pay up to $25,100 in fines.

Zero tolerance laws consider an underage person to be under the influence if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.02% or higher. If you were under 21 years old at the time of the offense and had a BAC of at least 0.02% but under 0.08%, you could face an automatic license suspension. However, if your BAC is at or above 0.08%, you could face similar sentencing as someone over 21.

Many first-time offenders could forego jail time in exchange for a certain amount of hours of community service. However, if it’s your third, fourth, or subsequent offense, you would most likely have to serve time behind bars.

Whether it’s your first or third time, anyone convicted of DUI must participate in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. You will undergo an evaluation to determine the proper form of treatment. Completion of this program is mandatory.

Besides imprisonment and the financial toll a DUI conviction could take on your life, you could also face challenges upon your release from jail. Many employers and landlords perform background checks on applicants. You could have trouble finding a job or home with your criminal history.

Start Building Your Defense Now

A DUI arrest can be scary. An experienced lawyer could represent you and prepare a strategic defense to get the charges dropped or reduced. When you’re facing an uncertain future, don’t leave your fate in the hands of someone with insufficient resources. A reputable law firm, such as [firm-name], can take the time to review every detail of your case and come up with the best plan for securing your freedom.

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