“My driving privileges are suspended for one year, but I get to drive to work,” said no driver ever. If you are caught driving drunk in the United States, there are many penalties that you must pay. While it is true that repeat offenders will face steeper fines and harsher punishments, even a first-time offender will have to deal with the consequences of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Drunk?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the roads, and there are many consequences for doing so.
If you are pulled over, and it is determined that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08%, then you can count on getting a DWI.
A DWI will cost you thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, higher insurance rates and may even result in the loss of your job.
Driving Privileges and Penalties
Depending on the state you live in and the circumstances of your case, a first offense DWI can lead to penalties such as:
- Having your driver’s license suspended for anywhere from 90 days to two years. This means that you cannot legally operate a motor vehicle during this time.
- You could be sentenced to up to six months or more in county jail depending on your record, how much you weigh, and what type of test was given by the police officer.
- You will have to pay a hefty fine for getting caught driving drunk. The average total cost is about $10,000, if not more, depending on where you live and what your state law requires you to pay. This price could vary greatly depending on prior offenses.
- Your auto insurance rates will increase dramatically due to this mark on your records.
- If you cause an accident that causes injury to another person, you might face civil charges in addition to criminal charges. You can also expect increased insurance premiums for years to come following any car-related accident.
- If a person is killed as a result of your drinking and driving, there is no penalty too severe for your crime, not even death itself. It is required by law that offenders who kill someone while they are intoxicated behind the wheel serve at least 15 years up to 30 years in prison, depending on their record and whether they served time in prison.
What to Do If You Get Arrested?
Driving while intoxicated is not only dangerous for yourself but for everyone else on the road. If you are ever pulled over and suspected of driving drunk, remain calm and try to cooperate as best you can.
Do not attempt to drive away or fight with the officers who pulled you over. If you must, ask if you may call someone to come get your vehicle, so there is no risk of it being moved illegally. Also, let an officer know that you will be taking a breathalyzer test because choosing whether to do so is very important at this stage in the game.
You should speak with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. These lawyers specialize in this specific area of the law and know what to expect in court proceedings. They will also try to negotiate with judges and district attorneys to reduce charges or sentence time whenever possible.
How to Avoid Getting a DWI in the First Place?
There are plenty of ways to avoid getting a DWI in the first place. The most important thing is for you, or anyone else that might be drinking and driving is not to do it. If you know you’re going out with friends and plan on drinking, make sure someone other than yourself will be the designated driver.
Get a taxi ride home if need be, take public transportation, or ask for help from your local police department, who should give you a safe ride home if no other options are available.
Be smart about your drinking and driving habits. If you know in advance that you will be having a few drinks, make sure all of your friends are aware of this fact, so they do not let you behind the wheel when you are unable to hold yourself together.
Drinking and driving is never a good idea, but it’s especially important to avoid doing so during the holiday season when roads are crowded, and law enforcement is on high alert. There are plenty of ways to get home safely without endangering yourself or others. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve had too much to drink, do not try to drive yourself — call an Uber or have a friend pick you up instead. It’s better to be safe than sorry.