Driving while intoxicated is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit while operating an automobile. In all 50 states, a DWI will result in serious penalties for the driver. If you have been charged with this crime, you need to understand the possible punishments if you wish to avoid them.
What Constitutes a DWI?
DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. However, this may leave many wondering how much they have to drink to break the law. It depends on how much a person weighs. This is due to the fact that the law is based on a person’s blood alcohol level. To be in the clear, a person must have a blood alcohol level below .08. For a 120 pond person, this is two drinks or less. For a 220 pound person, however, it’s five drinks or less.
First Time DWI Penalties
If you are being charged with your first DWI, you are likely to incur certain penalties if you are convicted. The punishments given can differ depending on the jurisdiction. However, in general, they include things like a fine of up to a few thousand dollars, probation and community service. There may be jail time served. Depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction, the term could be anywhere from several days to several months. The car may also be impounded and the driver may be forced to install a lock on his or her ignition that forces the driver to perform a breathalyzer test before it can be started.
Penalties for Multiple Time Offenders and Serious Accidents
If a person has previous convictions for driving while under the influence, the punishments given for a conviction are much more severe. For one, you could be prosecuted for having committed a felony. In states like Florida, three convictions within a ten year period results in a felony. Being convicted of a felony DWI could mean spending a year in jail, paying a $5,000 fine and having your license suspended for a decade. If you were involved in a crash that resulted in a loss of life, additional manslaughter charges with even more jail time and even larger fines are very possible.
Why You Need a DWI Attorney
According to Tad Nelson, being charged with a crime such as a DWI can cause a lot of emotional stress along with the legal stress. This is ultimately why you need an attorney to help you with your stress. After all, having a good attorney on your side will help you avoid some of the stiffest penalties for DWI. For example, you may be able to prove that the police officer made mistakes when testing your sobriety. You may be able to walk away without a conviction. If not, the harshest penalties can probably be avoided with good legal strategy. This is why hiring a seasoned DWI attorney is very important.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol can have serious consequences. It can put people’s lives in danger, and it can also result in the driver losing his or her freedom. However, avoiding some of the stiffest penalties is possible if you have the assistance of a good DWI lawyer.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.