What do Tim Allen and Justin Bieber have in common?
Both celebrities have a DWI record!
Drunk driving arrests happen a lot more than you might think. About 1 out of every 121 licensed drivers will face DWI charges. If you’re dealing with the stress of DWI penalties, this article’s for you.
From license suspensions to jail time, DWI charges can completely disrupt your life. However, by understanding what you’re dealing with, you can create a solid plan for getting your life back on track.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about DWI charges.
Is a DWI a Misdemeanor or Felony?
Are DWI penalties considered to be a misdemeanor or a felony? For most situations, a first-time offense of driving under the influence is a misdemeanor. If you’re only charged with a misdemeanor it’s because your state views DWI charges as a type of traffic offense.
However, if you live in a state with particularly strict DUI laws, it could be a felony crime. Another way your DWI could become a felony is if you were breaking other laws, in addition to driving under the influence. For instance, in some states, if you have a suspended license, and you get caught driving under the influence, you’ll be facing felony charges.
Understanding DWI Terminology
From the moment of your DWI arrest, you’ll begin hearing all sorts of new terms to describe your charges. Here are a few of the terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with:
- Absorption rate
- Administrative Per Se Laws
- Blood alcohol concentration
- Burnoff rate
- Conditional license
If your states follow Administrative Per Se Laws or APS, they can choose to suspend your license if you failed the breathalyzer test. The biggest thing to understand about APS laws is that even without an official conviction, you could wind up losing your license.
If you’re issued a conditional license it means you’re only allowed to drive for certain reasons such as work. A conditional license usually comes with the requirement of attending alcohol counseling courses.
Common DWI Penalties
In addition to having your license suspended, you could also be facing other types of punishments and penalties. For starters, even if your state views DWIs as misdemeanors, you could still wind up spending time in jail. The amount of time you spend in jail will vary based on your particular case, and where you live.
While some states will only hold you for a few days, other states can hold you for 6 months to a year for DWI misdemeanor charges. If your blood alcohol content was particularly high, you can expect to spend the most amount of time in jail.
Fines for DWI
Next, DWI penalties also come with a variety of fines. Again, the amount and type of fines you’re facing will depend on where you live. While some states will charge around $500 for a DWI, other states will charge $2,000 or more!
If you’re a first time DWI offender, your state may offer you alternative sentencing options. For instance, substance abuse counseling, and drug prevention programs, are 2 different kinds of alternative punishments.
The judge can combine your alternative punishments with other fines and penalties. Or the judge can decide to let you off the hook completely, as long as you do community service and start getting treatment for substance abuse.
What States Have Strictest DWI Laws?
Overall, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, and Kansas have some of the most strict DWI laws. For instance, in Arizona, even if it’s your 1st DWI offense, you’ll spend 10 days in jail. If your DWI took place in Georgia, you’d be looking at 10 days jail time, along with 1 full year of having your license suspended!
Minnesota DWI Laws and Penalties
If you’re facing charges in Minnesota, you should secure the services of an experienced DWI attorney. Minnesota is one of the few states that’ll charge you with a DWI, even if your blood alcohol concentration was below .08%.
That means after having 1-2 drinks and getting behind the wheel, you could be facing severe DWI charges. As a first time offender, Minnesota will usually have you spend a few days in jail, along with suspending your license for 30 days to a year.
If you’re facing 2nd-degree DWI penalties in Minnesota, you can expect to pay as much as $20,000 or more in court costs and legal fees. For a 3rd-degree DWI Minnesota penalty, you’ll have to use an interlock device for 3-6 years, or possibly never drive again.
DWI vs. Aggravated DWI
Are you being charged with an aggravated DWI? If so, you going to be facing harsher penalties and fines than you would with a regular DWI charge. Examples of aggravated DWIs include things like having a child in the car or being a repeat offender.
What Happens After a DWI Arrest?
What happens after you’re pulled over for a DWI? First, officers are going to request you take a breathalyzer, along with field sobriety tests.
If you refuse to take the breathalyzer your license can be immediately suspended. After taking the breathalyzer test, if you fail, you’ll be taken straight to jail.
When you’re given a phone call you’ll want to contact a DWI attorney, and then locate a local bail bondsman. Next, you’ll need to request a DMV hearing.
Finally, you’ll need to start preparing for your arraignment. You should never plead guilty at your arraignment since your lawyer can help you successfully fight your DWI charges.
Get Your Life Back on Track
Dealing with a DWI arrest is financially and emotionally taxing. However, if you do everything you’re supposed to do, you’ll be able to face your DWI penalties the right way. By getting the help of a lawyer, and following all of their advice, you’ll finally be able to get your life back on track.
Go ahead and schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer in your area today. The sooner you take action, the better your outcome will be. For more ways to stand up for your rights, read another one of our articles.