Texarkana Personal Injury Lawyer

DUI: Charge and Penalties

Being charged with a DUI can be scary, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process and are otherwise going through it for the first time. Can someone go to jail for driving under the influence? How expensive are the fines associated with it? Does the law regarding DUI’s differ from state to state? As with most other charges, the penalties for being charged with driving under the influence can vary based on how many the times the offender has previously been charged. Although a lawyer in Texarkana TX can help you with the specifics of your case, this guide should provide a basic foundation of knowledge for everything concerning DUIs, so that you’re fully prepared when you go to speak with your legal representative.

Jail

Across every state in America, the first time a person is found guilty of driving under the influence, they are subject to a misdemeanor and up to six months in jail. Although that may not seem like a sizeable amount of jail time, that punishment can be further influenced by other circumstances, such as the intensity of the person’s intoxication at the time of arrest. For instance, some states have called for greater punishments for those who are found guilty of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content that is at least twice the legal driving limit.

Interestingly, many states have provisions that require first time offenders to spend a minimum of at least a few days in jail. Any offenses beyond the first then add on exponentially more time to the jail sentence, culminating in up to a full year in jail for a single incident.

Although it depends on state law, punishments involving jail will also typically be far more severe in situations where the driver was intoxicated and caused injury to another party, such as running them over with a vehicle or getting into a collision with them.

Fines

Many courts impose additional fines on top of other sentences involving a DUI. These court fees can range anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Of course, it could be argued that the best way to fight these fees is by instead investing in a lawyer in Texarkana TX.

License Issues

Even first time offenders stand to lose their license for a fairly long period of time after being charged with driving under the influence. As with other punishments associated with DUI’s, the length of time in which a person’s license is revoked will often depend on whether it’s their first, second, or even third offense.

For those who are thinking about being combative with the police, there are additional penalties associated with refusing to take a breathalyzer test or to provide a urine or blood sample. Even if someone is found to not be guilty of driving under the influence, refusal to cooperate with these tests can result in a person’s license being temporarily revoked for an extended period of time. Some states even add other penalties on top of this, so it’s important to be cooperative while dealing with police officers. If you think you’re being treated unfairly, then you should speak to your lawyer about it after the fact instead of trying to confront them while you’re pulled over.

Driving While Young

Although driving under the influence is obviously bad regardless of your age, the law does not provide any particular breaks to minors who are caught doing so. Unlike many other charges, being young does not provide any benefits in these circumstances. In fact, minors who are caught driving under the influence can face multiple crimes, since it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink. Furthermore, states use a lower bar for blood alcohol content with minors, meaning that they’re expected to be at 0.02 or lower, rather than the 0.08 that adults are held to.

Unintended Consequences

While most people probably associate DUI’s with jail time or court fees, few people take the other consequences into account. For instance, a person’s insurance company might cancel their policy after they’ve been charged with driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated doesn’t just disappear from a person’s record over night either, which makes it difficult to get jobs that involve driving vehicles.

First Time Offenders in Texas

In Texas, a first time offender may be subject to the aforementioned jail time, as well as an additional fine of up to $2,000. Aside from a fine and jail time, additional punishments for first time offenders in Texas include a license suspension for up to two years, and an annual charge of an additional $2,000 to keep your license for several years after it has been returned. Depending on the severity of your intoxication at the time you were charged, you may also be required to install an ignition lock in your vehicle to prevent you from driving it while intoxicated. First time offenders may also be asked to take part in an education program geared towards preventing repeat offenders. Although this may not sound exciting to most people, the good news is that alternative punishments like these can be used to reduce your jail time or court fees, at the judge’s discretion, of course.

Second Time Offenders in Texas

After being charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, all of the previous punishments listed for Texas are either increased or extended significantly. Court fees escalate to as high as $4,000, and jail sentences range from a minimum of one month to a maximum of an entire year. Any license suspensions that occur can last for up to two years, and there may yet again be recurring charges of up to $2,000. Finally, you may be forced to install an ignition lock on your vehicle or attend another educational program.

Third Time Offenders in Texas

Once again, there is yet another jump in the severity of punishments for those who are caught offending for a third time in Texas. In terms of fines and court fees, the limit is raised to $10,000. For those worried about jail time, the punishment at this point ranges from a minimum of two to ten years in a state prison. Aside from these differences, the other punishments still exist at this level relatively unchanged. That means you can expect to once again have your license suspended for several years, and then be expected to pay $2,000 for several more years if you want to get it back. If you haven’t already had an ignition lock installed in your vehicle, then you can expect to do that, as well as attend that educational program if you haven’t already done so.

Protecting Yourself

Although the consequences of driving under the influence are certainly scary, they are not necessarily set in stone. If you have an effective lawyer by your side, you can have these charges dropped or reduced and ensure that you aren’t spending a fortune in fines, or spending any considerable amount of time in jail. It’s for this reason that it’s highly recommended you do your research and find a lawyer you can trust to represent you. Being charged with driving under the influence is serious, as evidenced by the variety of punishments that the state can enact. Don’t let yourself fall victim to an undeserved punishment if the right legal representative can protect you.