Penalties for a DWI conviction


Driving under the influence (DUI) is the term generally used for drunk driving charges, but in some states that is a term reserved for underage defendants i.e. below the age of 21. For adult defendants who are impaired while driving, the term used is driving while intoxicated (DWI). A DWI is considered a serious offense and carries escalating penalties that are currently the toughest in the state’s history. This can be quite a scary experience, especially for first timers.

Typically, a first-time drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor, which typically can be labeled a Class B misdemeanor. This can mean 180 days in prison, suspension of driving privileges for a year, and a possible fine of up to $2,000, plus an annual surcharge of $1,000 for the next three years. If the blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.16 or more, which is at least double the legal limit, the surcharge becomes $2,000.

Repeat offenders start racking up points where a second DWI charge within 10 years of the first offense is a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail, 2 years licenses suspension, $4,000 in fines, $1,500 to $2,000 annual surcharge) and a third instances is a felony. A felony DWI is already in the big leagues right up there with sexual and felony theft offenses. It is not unusual for a conviction to mean 10 years in prison. For drivers who are charged with a DWI with a minor goes straight to felony territory, and those driving a commercial vehicle carriers with a BAC of .04 or over will get their drivers license suspended for a minimum of a year, depending on what they are carrying.

Perhaps more importantly, especially for first time offenders, is that a DWI conviction means a criminal record that they will carry with them like a ball and chain for the rest of their lives. This should be avoided as much as possible. Contact a DWI lawyer in the area immediately after being charged and say nothing until you have had a chance to consult with one another. This will prevent you from saying anything that may incriminate you or otherwise damage your case.

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