Penalties and Consequences of DWI
A DWI charge is not a small thing. It is not like getting a parking ticket, where you pay the fine and go on with your life as if nothing happened. If you are convicted, a DWI can have severe and long-lasting consequences for you. Generally, penalties for felonies are more substantial than those for misdemeanors. Misdemeanors carry the potential for up to one year in jail, while felonies can involve multi-year prison terms. Fines, probation time, and other penalties are usually higher for felony offenses than for misdemeanors, as well. Penalties and consequences of DWI may include:
Driving restrictions can be imposed
How long depends on the specific charge(s) against you and the amount of damage that occurred because you were driving while intoxicated. A DWI charge or conviction can lead to restricted driving penalties. First-time offenders may have their licenses suspended for 30 to 90 days. Repeat or felony offenders may face multi-year driver’s license suspensions or even permanent revocation of all driving privileges.
There may be administrative fees
to pay in addition to criminal charges. Your driving record will no longer be spotless. Plus, your criminal record will be blemished if there are criminal penalties.
A DWI conviction can affect your reputation and credibility
Your employer may not take to it kindly, and your future job prospects may be impacted, as well. If you happen to lose your driving privileges or get jail time, it will likely have a substantial impact on your personal and your professional life.
You could be fined
Criminal fines for DWI could range from several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
You could go to jail or prison
A sentence that includes jail time is possible in any DWI case, including those considered first offenses (in some states). Not all DWI sentences include incarceration penalties. However, those that do can be devastating, including several years in state prison for felony or repeat DWI offenders.
Your vehicle can be confiscated
Many states in the nation allow for temporary or even permanent seizure or confiscation of a DWI offender’s vehicle.
You could be forced to install an ignition interlock device
Every state has laws that require the installation of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of individuals convicted of drunk driving. These interlock devices test the driver’s blood-alcohol level and prevent the car from starting if it is elevated.
You could be ordered to attend alcohol assessment and treatment programs
DWI sentences may require that drivers participate in alcohol assessment or treatment programs.
You could be put on probation
Probation is technically a criminal sentence that permits the convicted person (a probationer) to remain out of jail, but under restrictions. Probation terms limit the freedoms of individuals convicted of crimes and require them to comply with specific rules, such as:
- Reporting to a probation officer regularly
- Paying a probation fee
- Performing a specified amount of community service work
- Participating in an alcohol treatment program
Probation sentences generally last one year or more. Failing to comply with court-ordered probation terms can result in an extended probation sentence, additional fines, or even jail time. Probation is usually an option in most DWI cases. It may be imposed in addition to a jail sentence, though. If you have been charged with a DWI, the first thing you should do is hire the services of an experienced DWI defense lawyer to help you manage the legal aspects of the situation. Contact a lawyer today.