Driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated. No matter what you call it, drinking and driving is a serious offense.
Every state has strict laws restricting drivers from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
DUI punishment varies from state to state. Some potential penalties include jail time, probation, community service, fines, driver’s license suspension, and attendance at a drug and alcohol program. In some cases, the offender’s car may be impounded or an ignition interlock device may be installed in his or her vehicle.
Several factors come into play when determining your DUI punishment. The biggest factor is the number of previous DUI convictions on your record. If this is your first offense, you will spend less time in jail and pay smaller fines than someone who has received his or her third DUI. Habitual offenders may even be charged with felony DUI, which is punishable by more than a year in prison.
Punishments may be enhanced based on the circumstances of the case. For example, speeding over a certain limit, causing property damage or injury, or transporting a child while intoxicated may lead to enhanced penalties, including mandatory jail time and higher fines. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration over .20% or who refused to take a chemical test will also be sentenced to enhanced DUI punishment.
In most states, the driver can be charged with felony DUI if he or she causes injury while intoxicated – even if it happens to a passenger in the impaired driver’s vehicle. If the driver kills someone while driving drunk, he or she may be charged with vehicular manslaughter or murder.
Not all drivers charged with DUI go to jail. Many alternatives exist, including house arrest, electronic monitoring, community service, and work release. A DUI defense attorney can discuss each option with you and help you weigh the pros and cons.
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