What are the Penalties for DWI?
Drunk driving offenses are criminal in all 50 states. There are different terms for these offenses. DWI, meaning driving while intoxicated, is a criminal offense in all 50 states. However, the states are all responsible for creating their own penalty policies and enforcing them. Some states refer to this charge as DUI, OUI, OVI, or OWI, but the general facts about drunk driving offenses are the same. So what are the differences between DUI vs. DWI? There’s truly not a significant difference between the two offenses, and the terms are often used interchangeably.
DWI is the preferred term in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas. The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) in all these states is .08 percent. Offenders with a BAC at or above that limit are at risk for a variety of penalties.
What Happens if I am Stopped for DWI?
Law enforcement is frequently monitoring the roadways for motorists committing driving offenses. You may be pulled over if they notice any of the following behaviors:
- Excessive speeding
- Erratic driving
- Failure to stop at stop signs or red lights
- Driving too slowly
- Other strange driving behaviors
If you are pulled over for one of these behaviors, law enforcement will ask you to take a breathalyzer test, or BAC test. Refusing the test will not free you from consequences. Typically, refusing to take a test will result in the offender’s driver’s license being suspended for a certain length of time, and may also include financial or other additional penalties.
If you do take the test, and your BAC is at or above .08 percent, it is very likely you will be arrested for DWI and given a court date for sentencing. While some penalties are mandated by statute, many states allow judges some discretion when handing down penalties.
Penalties for DWI Offenses Vary by State
Although the penalties for each state are specific, there are overlaps between them for each state. Penalties for DWI offenses typically include:
- License suspension or revocation: The time period may vary, but typically offenders have their license taken away for several months at a minimum.
- Jail time: Some states do have a minimum jail requirement following an offense.
- Financial penalties: The amounts vary, but there are typically fines associated with drunk driving. Additionally, insurance expenses and transportation expenses may increase following an offense.
- Mandated treatment: In some states, a mandated alcohol safety course or treatment is required by the court.
- Community service: Some states may assign community service in lieu of, or in addition to, jail time.
- Ignition interlock device requirement: Many states will require an ignition interlock device, or IID, following a DWI offense.
Our state specialists can help you determine what you need to do and help find an installation location near you. Call 833-623-0200 or fill out the form on our website to get a quote. If you want a DWI attorney to represent you Intoxalock and its partners can also assist you. Contact us for more information.