One of the most dangerous things a person can do is to drive a car while intoxicated. Thousands of people die in drunk driving accidents on a monthly basis. In the United States, penalties for driving under the influence vary from state to state. They’re mandated by the road safety laws and guidelines that each state enacts. Regardless of your state, however, your penalties will become more severe if there are previous DWI arrests or convictions on your criminal record.
In every state, the first DWI a driver incurs is considered a misdemeanor. However, having a misdemeanor DWI on your record means that further arrests might incur felony charges. You may end up doing jail time. If there is more than one previous DWI, or you had a particularly egregious offense, you may find yourself spending several years in prison.
After your first DWI offense, subsequent offenses cause your license to be suspended or revoked for much longer periods of tie. Some states, when a person gets a third DWI conviction, will permanently revoke their driver’s license. You will no longer have the privilege of driving a car. For most people, that means a serious loss of independence, freedom, and overall control of life. Even if you don’t lose your license permanently, a second or third DUI offense will typically result in a license revocation for one or more years.
With every new DWI you get, you’ll be facing greatly increased fines. You might also be put on probation and have to report to a probation officer. Most people will be sentenced to some kind of DUI education program and mandatory addiction counseling. Your car will also typically have an ignition interlock installed before you’re allowed to drive.
Ignition interlock devices are sophisticated breathalyzers installed directly in your car. Before your engine will start, you have to provide a sample of your breath. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, you won’t be able to start the car. This is a safety measure used to ensure you don’t drive drunk again. When you have repeat offenses on your record, the court assumes there will be more repeats. Since drunk driving is dangerous to all the motorists on the road, safety precautions are taken.
You may be aware that the legal alcohol limit for adults over the age of 21 is .08. However, you typically need to pass the breathalyzer test with a score of .02 or lower.
Once you’ve started your car, there will be periodic “rolling retests.” These tests continually measure your breath while you’re driving to make sure you don’t get someone else to provide a sample or begin drinking while on the road. If your breath sample fails the test while you’re en route, or you don’t provide a sample, your horn will begin honking and your lights will flash until the car is pulled over and powered down.
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI with previous DWI convictions, you need to get in contact with a skilled criminal lawyer as soon as possible. No matter what state you live in, repeat DWI offenders are treated very seriously. Driving under the influence risks other people’s lives, and many people consider it an act of unwitting violence. Your charges may be even more severe if you cause an accident or injuries while you drive under the influence.
Your defense lawyer will help you understand your options. Without a strong defender behind you, you might go bankrupt from the fines or face potential years in prison. Defense attorneys understand how the criminal justice system works. They know how to navigate you through all portions of the criminal justice process.
The most important thing is that you commit to taking care of yourself. Multiple DUIs are a sign that you have a serious substance use problem. You’ll almost certainly be sentenced to some kind of mental health treatment. Sometimes it can also help to get ahead of things. If you recognize that you have a problem, and you’re ready to start taking care of that problem, you might enroll yourself in a detox center or inpatient rehab.
Not only is this course of action good for your physical and mental health, but it will often help bolster your case. The judge wants to see that you understand the severity of your actions and take responsibility for them. They want to know that you’re trying to get help for your problem. A person who seeks addiction treatment will often get a lighter sentence than one who resists treatment at every turn.
This articles by Nima Haddadi, a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. The penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) vary depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your state, but in every state, penalties are much more severe if you already have prior DWI arrests on your record.
While every state classifies a driver’s first DWI as a misdemeanor, it could classify subsequent DWI offenses as felonies. There may be a jail sentence, and if your offense was particularly severe or you have multiple prior DWIs, that sentence could be several years in length. The length of time that the state suspends your driver’s license is significantly longer after your first offense. For example, a state that suspends a driver’s license for 90 days or 6 months on their first DWI offense may suspend it for 1 year on a second offense and 3 years on a third. Driver’s license revocation is also a possibility.
Fines increase with each subsequent DWI. The state may put you on probation for several years and require that you attend DUI classes. It’s also likely that the state will require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car before you can drive again.
An ignition interlock device is an in-car breathalyzer that requires you to provide a breath sample before you’re able to start your car. If your breath sample has a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the limit that’s programmed into the device, then your car will not start. The programmed limit is usually a BAC of .02. These devices also have rolling retests, which are required retests while you’re driving to ensure that you don’t drink after starting your car or have someone else provide a breath sample for you. If you fail to provide a breath sample or your breath sample is at or above the programmed limit, the device will cause your horn to honk and your lights to flash until you pull over and shut your car off.
If you are being charged with a DWI and you already have one or more on your record, it’s imperative that you hire a skilled defense attorney. Each state takes repeat DWI offenders very seriously and has severe punishments in place. Without a strong defense, you could end up with large fines or jail time.
A defense attorney can examine the prosecution’s case to see if there are any weaknesses, such as a lack of probable cause to pull you over, or any issues with the testing method used to obtain your BAC. DWI cases are complex, and there may be issues with the evidence against you, but it requires an intricate knowledge of arrest and testing procedures to find those issues. That’s why you need a DWI defense attorney who has handled these types of cases before. While it’s rare for DWI charges to get dismissed, your attorney may be able to secure you a plea deal for a lesser charge if the prosecution isn’t completely confident in the evidence they have against you.
Keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to DWI cases. No attorney can promise that they’ll get your charges reduced, and if they do then they’re lying to you. However, a defense attorney gives you the best chance at minimizing the damage that a DWI causes to your life. They may be able to work out a deal where you complete a DUI education program instead of serving jail time, or install an ignition interlock device on your car instead of having your license suspended. A defense attorney can make the difference between spending a year in jail or being put on probation. You should hire an attorney any time that you’re charged with a DWI, but it’s even more critical when you already have one or more previous DWI charges on your record.
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