Although every jurisdiction in North America views alcohol related driving charges as serious, there is definitely no consensus on the best way to punish those who drink and drive. In a survey of States and Provinces, it was found that there were large differences in minimum fines, license suspensions, jail time and other consequences.
In Canada, the offense of Impaired Driving is a federal offense and comes under the Canadian Criminal Code. There is a standard penalty across Canada if charged criminally with an alcohol/driving related offense. On a first offense, the minimum fine is $1,000.00 and a one year license suspension. Jail time is possible and an option for Judges in sentencing for more serious cases.
The maximum legal blood alcohol content is 0.08% in Canada. However, Provinces are free to institute their own regulations in regard to alcohol and driving on provincial roads. Some provinces such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia have penalties that are immediate such as roadside driver’s license suspensions for drivers who are found to have a BAC according to a breath testing machine that are lower than the Criminal legal limit. However, a driver charged under these Provincial regulations are not charged criminally. Although some of these penalties can be severe, if a driver is only charged under a Provincial regulation, they will not have a criminal record.
In the US however, individual States have the authority to legislate laws regarding impaired driving and blood alcohol concentration levels. Each State has its own penalties and sentences that are legislated by the State. Even though all States in the US today have a standard maximum blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, this has not always been the case. Until recently, there was even a variance in the legal blood alcohol concentration limit among States.
In a survey of penalties for drinking and driving offenses, it was found that there is a huge variance in how many States mete out punishment for those offenses. Some such as Michigan have a fine for a first offence of only $100.00 while other States like Washington have a minimum fine of $1,120.50.
Jail sentences for a first offence also vary greatly. In Pennsylvania, no jail time is legislated if your BAC was between 0.08% AND 0.099%, but in Washington State, you will spend 24 hours in Jail and up to 1 year. A period of electronic home monitoring in Washington is also a possibility.
Some States have varying penalties that depend on your BAC when you were arrested. In Michigan, having a BAC of greater than 0.17% is now considered a “Super DUI” and carries increased penalties upon conviction.
As well, there are places in the United States where an impaired driver faces greater penalties if they were driving with a passenger under a certain age. In some States, this age is 21, while others have legislated more severe penalties for transporting a minor under 16 years old.
Perhaps one of the most complicated systems for determining the sentence and fine for a DUI conviction is in the State of South Carolina. The penalties for a DWI in North Carolina are based on a very complicated system including things such as “mitigating factors” and “grossly aggravating factors.” This is definitely a State where you will benefit from the services of drunk driving lawyers to help you with negotiating with and navigating through the court system.
You are invited to find out more about what you could face if charged with impaired driving and what the legislated DUI penalties [http://lifeafterimpairedcharge.com/category/state-impaired-driving-laws/] could be in your State.
No matter what State you live in, the consequences of an alcohol related driving charge carry serious consequences. You could prevent a DUI with you own personal breathalyzer.