Penalties For Drunk Driving: Guide


Drunk driving, also referred to as DUI, is a type of traffic offense that occurs when a driver is impaired by alcohol or another harmful substance. There are various penalties if someone is found to be driving while intoxicated.

The sentencing rules and penalties for drunk driving convictions vary from one state to another. Most states give a little leeway for a first-time offense and let it be punished as a misdemeanor. However, most take drunk driving very seriously and enforce severe consequences for repeated offenses if there are additional factors.

However, there are certain places where a first violation is only a civil infraction, not an offense. States also differ in how much power a judge has when determining what penalties to impose. Some countries or states have minimum required verdicts, while others let the severity of the penalties depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense.

With that said, let’s take a look at the various penalties for drunk driving

1. Jail term


Many states impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence even for a first DUI. A first-time, non-injury DUI is often considered a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. The state prison may impose felony jail sentences of more than a year for DUIs that result in physical injury, fatal DUI accidents, or multiple DUIs.

The mandatory minimum sentence may also be suspended or completed as a part of an employment program. Jail time could be part of the penalty for a second DUI or many DUIs.

2. Financial penalties

A DUI may cost a lot of money. A drunk driver may be subject to high fees, fines, and court costs. In some areas, the fines and fees for first-time DUI can reach $1,000 or more. Additionally, there are car seizures, increased insurance charges, probationary expenses, and alcohol rehab programs. The defendant can also be required to provide reparations to the victim if anyone was hurt in the drunk driving accident.

3. Probation


A judge may impose probation as part of the sentence so that the offender can escape jail or prison. Each stage of probation has its difficulties. A probationary period may include:

  • Reporting to the court regularly.
  • Making commitments not to consume alcohol.
  • Refraining from further arrests.

After a DUI, probation may be enforced for three or more years. If the defendant is arrested for drunk driving again while on probation, the judge may be more inclined to prolong probation or inflict more severe punishments.

4. Loss of your license

If you are found guilty of DUI, your license will probably suffer. Your license may be suspended in all states as part of the sentence, either by the state’s Department of motor vehicles or by a judge’s order. The laws of each state govern the length of the suspension. For a first offense, a typical suspension time is 90 days. However, in many states, you can apply for a limited license to drive to work, rehab, or school during suspension, frequently with an IID installed.

Your license will often be suspended for a lengthier period if you have more than one DUI conviction. Drivers guilty of DUI may have their licenses suspended in various states. Your license may be suspended in many jurisdictions if you refuse to submit to a chemical test.