Driving under the influence is a serious matter. Intoxicated drivers kill thousands of motorists every year. To reduce these incidents, society harshly penalizes individuals who drive under the influence. Individuals accused of driving under the influence in V should contact an attorney at the earliest opportunity.
Most states have statutory penalties for driving under the influence. The statutory penalties vary depending upon the degree of intoxication and the defendant’s criminal history. Here is a generalized rundown of what you may be looking at in your state if accused of DUI:
Upon the first offense, a driver with a blood alcohol content of greater than or equal to .08 but less than .15 will be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $250 and a revoked driver’s license for one year. Drivers with a blood alcohol content between .15 and .20 will also spend five days in jail. Drivers with a blood alcohol content of .20 or greater will spend ten days in jail.
A second offense carries a mandatory minimum $500 fine, a one-year driver’s license revocation, and a possible jail term of up to one year. If the second offense is within ten years, the driver will also be sentenced to a mandatory 20-day jail term.
A third offense brings severe consequences. A third offense brings a $1,000 fine, a mandatory indefinite license revocation, and a felony record. If the third offense is within ten years, the driver will be subject to a 90-day jail term and permanent forfeiture of the vehicle, if the driver was the owner. A third offense within five years carries a mandatory six-month jail term.
Upon a conviction, the court may impound the vehicle for up to 90 days. Drivers involved in a vehicle collision may be charged up to $1,000 in restitution. Drivers convicted of driving under the influence must also report to a local Alcohol Safety Action Program which will determine other appropriate measures. Drivers may be required to pay for an alcohol treatment program at their own expense and attend 20 hours over 10 weeks in classes.
In addition to these penalties, Most DUI lawyers will remind us that a conviction for driving under the influence has penalties outside the legal system. Drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence face increased insurance rates, a criminal record, loss of employment, and other consequences. Driving under the influence is a serious violation of the law; the court costs, program costs, and impound fees are minor when compared to the long-term economic ramifications.
The Importance of Hiring An Attorney
Seeking competent legal representation is critical to a successful defense to a charge of driving under the influence. There are several benefits to hiring an attorney. An experienced attorney can ensure that the defendant’s rights are respected and provide compelling evidence for the defendant’s innocence. Attorneys experienced in such cases can help to explain the importance of increasing and decreasing intoxication play into the timeline of the arrest.
Defendants may not be familiar with important procedural requirements or alternatives to trial. Offering the defendant the chance to plead guilty in order to avoid the worst possible penalties is a common prosecutorial tactic. Without competent representation, defendants may be left accepting a harsh sentence when a much more favorable plea agreement or even dismissal of the charges is possible. Defendants attempting to plead their case to the police, the prosecutor, or the court can also make an incriminating statement without realizing it, thus eliminating the possibility of a plea in the first place.
The penalties listed above are just some of the harsh penalties associated with a charge of driving under the influence. Defendants charged with driving under the influence should immediately contact an attorney to discuss their options.