Legal Consequences of Drinking and Driving


Disclaimer: the material presented in the article below should only be considered as a general overview regarding DUI penalties. Should you, or anyone you know, find yourself getting arrested for or charged with a driving under the influence offense, it’s best that you speak to a DUI attorney immediately. He/she can help you decide on the best legal actions to take.


Each state has laws that prohibit driving under the influence of any drug or alcohol. There are different and severe consequences, yet every day, even with these prohibitions, people still drive while drunk, and you might be one of these people. Seeing ads and reading warnings about the different dangers of drunk driving is sometimes not enough. So, why don’t we go over the various legal consequences of drunk driving? Hopefully, these will enlighten you.


●       Fees and Fine

Most states would require a first-time offender of a DUI to pay an amount of $500 to $2000. This doesn’t include the fees for court, reinstatement of driver’s license, and your attorney. Also, in some states, you’d be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your car, which is costly. And if your vehicle has been impounded, a minimum fee of $100 is needed. The average total cost of a first-time offense DUI is $6,500, and an average of $4,400 in lost income.  


●       Suspension of Driver’s License

Even if you’re not convicted in a criminal court, the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or any equivalent agency, will suspend your driver’s license, especially if a chemical test would prove that you’re driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of at least 0.08%. The criminal court may impose an additional suspension on top of the suspension given to you if you’re convicted. Other states would allow suspensions to overlap, which means that you don’t necessarily finish the full length of both suspensions.


Generally, for a first time offender, your license would get suspended for six months. In some states, a suspension lasts for 30 days, and some are for a year. The length of your suspension would also depend on the level of your BAC when caught, criminal record, or if you’ve refused to take the chemical test when asked by a law enforcer.


●       Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)

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In some states, if you have a DUI, you’d be required to install an IID. An Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) is a device used to detect the level of BAC of the driver. Once it’s installed, the car won’t start unless you, the driver, blows into the tube, and you need to be alcohol-free. If the vehicle has already started and is moving, the IID would require you to blow into it at random intervals. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, it will notify the court or your probation department.


Some states would require you to install an IID for your first-time offense, and in some, only when you’re a repeat offender. Generally, you need to have IID in your car for at least a year.


●       Jail Time

All states that classify a first-time DUI/DQI as a misdemeanor would give you six months of jail time at most. Some states would have more severe punishments, especially if you have a high BAC level.

Most states would require that you spend a minimum of several days in jail, even for your first offense. If you’re a repeat offender, jail time varies from several months to a year. The length, however, depends on the law of the state and the judge’s discretion.


●       Enhanced Penalties

 If you’ve been convicted of a DUI that resulted in damage of property or someone getting injured or killed, or if you’ve had a high BAC level, you’ll be facing enhanced penalties.

  •  Extremely High Blood Alcohol Concentration

If your BAC is high, your offense will carry longer jail time and higher fines and fees.

  • Minors in the Vehicle

If you have minors in your vehicle when you’re caught with a DUI, you’ll get enhanced DUI penalties.

  • Excessive Speed

If you’ve been driving at an excessive speed, you’ll get charged separately for it.

  • Multiple DUI Convictions

If you’ve had convictions before, the state will give you harsher punishments, to discourage people.


An average of over 10,000 people die each year, according to National statistics, because of drunk driving related incidents. And every year, an average of 900,000 people get arrested for drunk driving, and a third of them are repeat offenders. Drunk driving is an ongoing battle, but you can be part of the solution. Solving this problem does not solely rest on our law enforcers, as a citizen, you also need to do your part. Keep yourself, family, friends, and fellow citizens safe by making our roads safer. If you’re in a situation in which you’ve been charged with drinking and driving, or a related auto accident, be sure to seek the services of an attorney in your area who has experience with cases such as these.


Jewel Spencer

 Jewel Spencer

Jewel Spencer is a promising young
law enthusiast. Her pieces offer a youthful perspective on common law topics. Jewel is your go-girl when it comes to sports, and she is often seen jogging when she has free time.