If you’re facing a charge or convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you might wonder how serious the penalties for this charge will be.
Each state labels drunk or impaired driving in their own terms — operating while intoxicated (OWI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). Typically, the legal limit or driving under the influence is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration — or BAC.
The limit is even less for commercial drivers and those who are under the legal age allowed to consume alcohol. It’s also illegal to drive while under the influence of illegal drugs and some controlled substances. Utah, the state with the most strict law, has a .05 percent BAC limit.
Being convicted of a DUI can have criminal and financial consequences, as well as ramifications for your employment opportunities. We’ll walk you through some of those consequences, as well as what you can do to get back on the road.
Is a DUI considered a criminal offense or traffic violation?
A DUI is a criminal offense in most states. Repercussions could begin for a driver if they refuse to take a breath or chemical test when a law enforcement official pulls them over. Drivers could lose their license and be subject to criminal penalties such as time spent in jail. They could also be required to pay fines. Those who are convicted in court of a DUI or similar drunk driving charge may also face these penalties.
A first offense is often categorized as a serious misdemeanor. This can mean that a person is required to spend a period of days up to a year in jail depending on the state. Fines can cost more than $1,000. A second DUI offense often is classified as an aggravated misdemeanor with more jail time possible and higher fines.
Drivers could be charged with a felony if:
- They are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI.
- Their BAC was much higher than the legal limit.
- They were driving drunk with a child in the vehicle.
- They caused serious injury or death to another person.
Penalties for felonies could entail thousands of dollars in fines, years in prison time and license suspension or revocation, according to DMV.org.
However, some states such as New Jersey and Wisconsin classify a driving while under the influence as a traffic violation, which does not typically include jail time unless the offense includes circumstances of property damage, injuries or fatalities, or additional charges. Learn more about your state’s laws.
Will my employer care if I’m convicted of a DUI?
Simply being arrested for drunken driving may not have much of an effect on your employment. A DUI conviction, however, will show up on a criminal record. If you are searching for jobs, employers will likely do a background check.
Some employers may care more about a DUI conviction than others, such as those hiring for jobs in commercial driving, government or childcare. Be prepared to have a conversation about it with your current or perspective employer, especially if you drive a company-owned vehicle.
How can I expunge a DUI off my record?
The legal process of clearing a DUI off a criminal record is called expunging, though not all states allow this. Expungement can depend on the severity of the conviction circumstances, or if a person has multiple DUIs on their record. To begin the process, you must fill out an application or petition, and there are likely court fees to file the paperwork. Some states require a judge to grant an expungement, while others require a public hearing. It’s important to understand that the process can be long and costly.
How can I get back on the road?
Intoxalock helps thousands of people every year with their ignition interlock device (IID) requirement as part of a DUI conviction. Most states require drivers to fill out a restricted license application and pay a fee to get back on the road after a license suspension following a DUI. If you are approved for an IID license, an Intoxalock technician can help you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle so you can resume daily tasks.
If you are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID), you can download and complete the IID Program Application Form below to begin the ignition interlock installation process.
Complete IID Application Form
Intoxalock has service centers in your area to help you safely get back on the road.