Consequences for First Time DUI/DWI Offenders

Consequences for First Time DUI/DWI Offenders

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) you may face a multitude of penalties even if it is your first offense. The penalties for these offenses are so varied that it would be impractical to discuss each state's penalties. Many states have adopted sentencing guidelines that provide a sentencing range for each type of offense and provide the aggravating and mitigating factors that can increase or decrease the sentence.

As an example, in Florida a first conviction is a misdemeanor that can carry up to nine months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1000, revocation of driving privileges, and 50 hours of community service. In Illinois a first conviction is a misdemeanor that carries up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, revocation of driving privileges, and a required professional evaluation of problems. The penalties are increased for each additional conviction within five years. The penalties can further be enhanced if a child under the age of 16 years was a passenger in the vehicle at the time.

Even if a first time offender is not sentenced to incarceration, it is likely that his or her license will be suspended or revoked. Courts are often restricted in their ability to alter suspensions or revocations of driving privileges because these statutory suspensions and revocations are intended to protect the public. In addition to revoking or suspending a driver's license, many states impose penalties that directly affect the offender's vehicle or license plates. For example, some states confiscate and impound the offender's license plates, require a convicted drunk driver's license plates to display identifiable markings, require the use of alcohol ignition interlock devices, immobilize the offender's vehicle, impound the vehicle, or require forfeiture the offender's vehicle.

In addition, many states require motorists to participate in what is commonly called a driver alcohol education program. For first time offenders, participation in the program may be either discretionary or mandatory depending upon the state. These programs are intended to educate offenders about the risks of alcohol and alcohol abuse. In most cases, the offender is required to pay for the costs of attending such classes or programs.