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DUI DWI Penalties



If you are caught drinking and driving, you can expect to face DUI penalties. The sentence for drinking and driving will depend on the state in which the incident occurred and the specifics of the DUI, such as whether someone was injured or killed as a result of the crime.

DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony

Under most circumstances, a DUI, also known as a DWI, will be treated as a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor is considered a lesser crime and is usually punishable by less than a year in jail, a fine, or a combination of both.

However, in certain situations, a DUI may be treated as a felony. A felony is a more serious crime and is usually punishable by a year or more in jail, a larger fine, or a combination of both.

Possible DUI Penalties

If you are caught committing a DUI, you can expect to face one or more of the following DUI penalties:

  • Prison time
  • Fines
  • Alcohol or drug counseling
  • Community service
  • Suspension of your driver's license

Factors that Affect DUI Penalties

There are a number of factors that may affect the severity of the DWI penalties you face.

The first factor is the state in which the DUI occurred in. Each state establishes its own DUI laws and sentencing guidelines. Therefore, one state might require a different punishment for drinking and driving than another state. If you would like to know more about the DUI laws in your state, you should contact a drunk driving lawyer in your area.

Your age could also affect DUI penalties. Specifically, if you are under 21 and are caught drinking and driving, you may suffer immediate punishment under what are known as zero-tolerance laws. Zero-tolerance laws punish underage drinkers by automatically suspending their driver's licenses, sometimes for as long as six months.

The number of DUI offenses you have on your record can also be a contributing factor to DUI penalties. For first-time offenders, the punishment tends to be less severe, and the crime, unless serious injury is involved, is almost always a misdemeanor. However, if you are a repeat offender, you may be charged with a felony.

Also, some states increase the severity of the punishment if the driver's blood-alcohol level is well above the legal limit. This is also true if a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of arrest.

Finally, if you cause injury to another person or significant property damage, you may suffer harsher DUI penalties. For example, if you kill someone due to drinking and driving, you may be charged with what is known as DUI manslaughter. In some states, manslaughter is punishable by multiple years in jail and fines that stretch into the thousands.