Penalties for a DUI Conviction
The best way to avoid the consequences of a DUI is to avoid using any illegal substances or drinking before operating a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal and typically leads to very severe consequences. The penalties for a DUI will likely include:
- License suspension
- Jail time
- Conviction (criminal record)
If an accident or injury occurred because of a DUI, the consequences are likely much more severe.
What are the Minimum Penalties for a First Time DUI?
In many states, a first-time DUI offense will lead to fines. Those fines will increase if a passenger is in the car, if your BAC is above a certain level or if someone was injured because of your DUI.
These fines can range from $500 to $5,000. In most states a first time DUI is classified as a misdemeanor and can be punishable with up to 6 months in jail. In some states it is considered a civil infraction. Every state determines the severity of penalties for a crime. Some states have mandated minimum sentences while other states leave the discretion u to the judge. States like West Virginia can have a minimum license suspension of 15 days, while it’s neighboring state Virginia has a minimum suspension of a year after a DUI.
Can You Refuse a Breath/Blood Test to Avoid a DUI?
Some states, like Virginia, also have penalties for refusing a breath or blood test. In VA, implied consent to the breath or blood test is considered given just by getting on the road, so a 1-3 year suspension is given if you refuse.
Refusing a second time is also considered a Class 1 misdemeanor there. In fact, you will face a strict penalty in almost any state where an officer stops you, believing you are intoxicated, and you refuse a breathalyzer or BAC test.
In some states, a crackdown on drunk driving is in place and a “no refusal” strategy means immediate warrants can be granted for searches, breathalyzers or BAC tests. In all states, penalties for refusing to be tested are more severe than a first time DUI.
Other Impacts of a DUI
Aside from the legal penalties, there are consequences of a DUI that will impact other aspects of your life. A DUI can lead to a lost scholarship or college offer. DUIs can even impact your credit score because of the financial ramifications of the fines. For those who are required to drive or operate a commercial drivers license (CDL) for their job, a DUI will likely result in a termination and make it hard to get another one in the same industry.
The DUI will be on your CDL record for 55 years. In some states a background check will expose a DUI and can make it hard to get a job in any industry. Some employers have a mandatory firing policy for any criminal conviction. In most states, a DUI will also raise your insurance rates for at least three years.
Getting a DUI will impact your life in many negative ways. Driving under the influence is dangerous and most states put these penalties in place in an effort to keep you—and those you share the road with—safe.