In most states, drunk driving charges often result in a conviction for a misdemeanor offense, meaning that the penalties for a DUI or DWI will typically consist of monetary fines, a county jail sentence, or both. However, repeat offenders usually face more severe penalties when convicted of DUI or DWI. Repeat offenses may elevate a second drunk driving charge to a felony.
Felony drunk driving penalties for repeat offenders can lead to a state prison sentence of at least one full year or longer, increased monetary fines, or court-ordered treatment or counseling sessions. In addition, many state laws provide enhanced punishments if certain aggravating factors are present.
For example, a court may temporarily suspend or permanently revoke your driver’s license if you are convicted of a second drunk driving violation in California. You may be unable to participate in daily activities such as commuting to work, driving to a friend’s house, or bringing your kids to school.
Finally, repeat offenders who commit DUI or DWI offenses will face different penalties and regulations according to the state’s laws. It may be in your best interest to contact a local DUI/DWI lawyer if you are facing charges for a second DUI or DWI violation. Your lawyer can explain how the laws in your state apply to your case and the penalties associated with it.
Additional Criminal Law Penalties for Repeat Offenders
The penalties that a repeat offender can receive after being convicted of a DUI or DWI violation will primarily depend on the driving laws in their jurisdiction, the facts of their particular case, and the number of times they have been convicted on the same or of similar charges. Generally, the more times a driver is convicted for a DUI or DWI offense, the harsher the penalties are likely.
Criminal law penalties for repeat offenders in drunk driving cases usually include:
- Monetary fines.
- Jail or prison sentences.
- Mandatory counseling sessions.
- License suspension or revocation.
Moreover, repeat offenders who are convicted of drunk driving charges may also face the following penalties:
- Completing a set number of community service hours;
- Having one’s motor vehicle impounded or confiscated, either temporarily or permanently (note that this punishment is usually reserved for those convicted three times or more on such charges);
- Having to install a device such as an ignition interlock in their vehicle;
- Obtaining a certificate proving completion of an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program;
- A permanent criminal record;
- Attending traffic school or defensive driving courses; or
- Other penalties may be imposed by state law or at the judge’s discretion.
Below are examples of how states may punish drivers with multiple drunk driving violations on their criminal records. Consider the differences and similarities between the following states’ penalties:
- California: The penalties for a DUI/DWI in California typically include a six-month prison term, fines ranging between $390 and $1,000, or a suspended license for up to a maximum of six months. A second DUI/DWI offense can result in a fine ranging from the same amount as a first offense, a suspension of your license for up to three years, or jail time.
- If convicted of a DUI/DWI violation for a third time in California, the repeat offender can face up to a year in jail, fines between $390 and $1,000, and a license suspension for up to three years. As a person is convicted more often, these penalties will increase in severity. A judge may also require motor vehicle ignition interlocks.
- Florida: Those convicted of DUI/DWI charges in Florida will typically receive a fine between $500 and $1,000, a license suspension of up to one full year, or a maximum jail sentence of up to six months or possibly probation and DUI courses instead.
- Depending on the circumstances, a second offense may result in increased fines between $1,000 and $2,000, a jail sentence of up to nine months, or installing an ignition interlock device on one’s motor vehicle.
- Upon a third violation, a fine of up to $5,000 can be imposed and a prison sentence of up to five years.
- Illinois: Illinois has various elements a court may factor in when issuing a sentence for a drunk driving violation.
- Generally, Illinois residents convicted of a DUI offense for the first time may receive a fine of up to $2,500, a jail sentence of up to one year, or a suspension of their license for up to three months.
- The punishment for a second offense is a minimum of five days’ imprisonment, up to 240 hours of community service, a fine of up to $2,500, vehicle impoundment, and ignition interlock device installation.
- When convicted a third time, fines can reach $25,000, licenses can be revoked for a minimum of ten years, vehicles can be suspended, and prison sentences can range from three to seven years.
- New York: The state of New York divides its penalties by the type of drunk driving offense. New York separates repeat offenders into three main categories: DUIs, DWIs, and DWAIs (driving while ability impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both).
- Upon conviction for DUI/DWI, a first-time offender in New York may be fined between $500 and $1,000, sentenced to jail for up to one year, or suspended their license for at least six months. A first-time offense for DWAI will also result in the same penalties as the others unless aggravating factors are present.
- Upon conviction, the driver faces up to one year in jail, revocation of their license for at least one year, and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000.
- A second DWAI may result in jail time of up to thirty days, license revocation of at least six months, or a fine between $500 and $750. The second offense of DUI/DWI may be punishable by up to four years imprisonment, thirty days of community service, fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, or a one-year license suspension.
- The license could be permanently revoked if one is convicted of a third DWAI offense. The penalties for a third DUI/DWI conviction can range from $2,000 to $10,000, up to seven years in prison, or revocation of one’s license.
- Texas: In Texas, drunk driving offenses are referred to as DWIs. A first-time DWI violation in Texas can result in a maximum jail sentence of up to 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000, and suspension of one’s driver’s license for somewhere between 90 days to up to one full year.
- A second DWI violation can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $4,000, and a suspension of one’s driver’s license of 180 days to two years. If you are convicted of a third DWI in Texas, you will face two to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a two-year license suspension.
- A Texas court may also order a driver to install an ignition interlock device in certain circumstances.
Should I Consult a Lawyer if I’m Being Charged With Another DUI/DWI?
A person with an established criminal record that contains a past entry for drunk driving and is charged with another DUI or DWI offense can face serious consequences. It is especially true when the charges involve a felony DUI offense. For both representations in court and valuable legal advice, an individual is strongly recommended to retain counsel in such cases.
Therefore, if you are facing charges for a DUI or DWI that could result in a second conviction on your criminal record, you should immediately contact a local DUI/DWI lawyer for further assistance. You can get information about your rights or protections as a driver under your state’s driving laws from a lawyer who has experience handling cases involving drunk driving issues.
Additionally, your lawyer can determine whether any defenses are available against the charges and can argue those defenses on your behalf in court. Additionally, your lawyer may be able to petition the court for a reduced or alternative sentence if the circumstances of your case justify a different punishment than the one you initially received.
Your lawyer can also assist you if it is not possible to request or reduce the penalties related to your case. Once you have completed your sentence, your lawyer may also be able to assist you in expunging those charges from your record after a certain time.