In general, drunk driving charges in most states often result in a conviction for a misdemeanor offense, meaning that the penalties for a DUI or DWI will typically consist of some amount of monetary fines, a county jail sentence, or both. When a person is charged and convicted of a DUI or DWI as a repeat offender, however, the penalties they can receive are usually more severe. This is because a repeat offense can elevate a second drunk driving charge to a felony offense.

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, and/or court-ordered treatment or counseling sessions. In addition, if certain aggravating factors are present in a case, many state laws provide for enhanced punishments.

For example, if you are convicted of a second drunk driving violation in the state of California, then the court may issue an order to temporarily suspend or permanently revoke your driver’s license. This can interfere with your freedom to participate in daily activities, such as commuting to work, driving to a friend’s house, or bringing your kids to school.

Finally, it is important to note that the penalties and regulations for repeat offenders who commit DUI or DWI offenses will vary in accordance with the laws of a particular state. Thus, if you are facing charges for a second DUI or DWI violation, then it may be in your best interest to contact a local DUI/DWI lawyer for further help with your case. A lawyer will be able to explain how the laws in your state apply to your case and the various associated penalties.

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. The general rule of thumb is that the more times that a driver is convicted for a DUI or DWI offense, the higher the chances are of them receiving harsher penalties.

As previously mentioned, the typical criminal law penalties for repeat offenders in drunk driving cases often include monetary fines, a jail or prison sentence, mandatory counseling sessions, and/or temporary suspension or permanent revocation of one’s license.

In addition, some other criminal law penalties for repeat offenders who are convicted of drunk driving charges may also include the following types of penalties:

  • Having to complete a set number of hours of community service;
  • Having one’s motor vehicle either temporarily or permanently impounded or confiscated (note that this punishment is usually reserved for those who have been convicted on such charges at least three times or more);
  • Having to install a device like an ignition interlock on their motor vehicle;
  • Having to obtain a certificate that proves the individual completed an alcohol and/or drug rehabilitation program or educational course;
  • Having a permanent criminal record for the remainder of one’s life;
  • Having to attend traffic school or defensive driving courses; and/or
  • Various other penalties required by state law or issued at a judge’s discretion.

The list below contains some further examples of how a specific state may handle punishing a driver who has multiple drunk driving violations on their criminal record. While reviewing them, consider the differences and similarities in penalties between the following states:

  • California: The penalties for a DUI/DWI in California typically include a six-month prison term, fines ranging between $390 and $1,000, and/or a suspended license for up to a maximum of six months. A second DUI/DWI offense can lead to a fine ranging between the same amounts as a first-time offense, having a license suspended for up to three years, and/or jail time for up to one year.
    • A repeat offender who is convicted of a DUI/DWI violation for a third time in California can earn up to a year in jail or longer, fines ranging between $390 and $1,000, and/or a license suspension for up to three years. These penalties will increase in their severity the more times a person is convicted. A judge may also require an individual to install an ignition interlock on their motor vehicle.
  • Florida: Those convicted of DUI/DWI charges in the state of Florida will typically receive a fine ranging between $500 and $1,000, a license suspension of up to one full year, and/or a maximum jail sentence of up to six months or possibly probation and DUI courses instead.
    • A second violation will lead to increased fines ranging between $1,000 and $2,000, an increase in jail sentence of up to nine months, and/or require installation of an ignition interlock on one’s motor vehicle, depending on the circumstances.
      • A third time violation will result in a fine of up to $5,000 as well as a prison sentence of up to five years total, along with possible installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • Illinois: Illinois has a variety of different elements that a court may factor in when issuing a sentence for a drunk driving violation. Residents would be wise to consult a local attorney first, but generally those in Illinois who are convicted of a DUI violation their first time may receive a fine of up to $2,500, a jail sentence of up to one year, and/or have their license suspended for up to three months.
    • A second time offense will lead to a mandatory minimum of five days’ imprisonment to up to one full year or 240 community service hours, fines of up to $2,500, vehicle impoundment, and an ignition interlock device being installed on their vehicle.
      • A third time conviction can result in fines of up to $25,000, revocation of a license for a minimum of ten years, vehicle suspension, and/or a prison sentence lasting between three to seven years.
  • New York: The state of New York divides its penalties in accordance with the type of drunk driving offense. Specifically, New York separates repeat offenders by three main categories: DUIs, DWIs, and DWAIs (i.e., driving while ability impaired with either drugs, alcohol, or both).
    • A conviction for a DUI/DWI for a first-time offender in New York includes a mandatory fine ranging from $500 to $1,000, a potential jail sentence of up to one year, and/or a temporary license suspension of at least six months. Receiving a first-time offense for a DWAI will also result in the same penalties as the others, unless aggravating factors were present.
      • In which case, the driver can receive up to one year in jail, have their license revoked for at least one full year, and will have to pay a fine somewhere in between $1,000 and $2,500.
    • A second DWAI will include jail time for up to thirty days, license revocation of at least six months, and/or a fine ranging between $500 and $750. In contrast, a second time offense for a DUI/DWI may lead to a sentence of up to four years’ imprisonment, thirty days of community service, fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, and/or a license suspension of at least one full year.
    • A third time offense for a DWAI could result in having one’s license permanently revoked. As for a third-time offense for a DUI/DWI violation, this can end in monetary fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, up to seven years’ imprisonment, and/or revocation of one’s license for one year or longer.
  • 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 license for somewhere in between 90 days to up to one full year.
    • A second DWI violation can result in jail time for up to one full year, a fine of up to $4,000, and a suspension of one’s driver license for somewhere in between 180 days and two years. A third DWI in the state of Texas can lead to two to ten years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, and a license suspension for up to two years.
      • Additionally, in certain situations, a Texas court may also order a driver to install an ignition interlock device on their motor vehicle.

Should I Consult a Lawyer if I’m Being Charged With Another DUI/DWI?

A person who already has an established criminal record that contains a past entry for drunk driving and who is then subsequently charged with another DUI or DWI offense can face very serious consequences for their actions. This is especially true when the charges involve a felony DUI offense. In such cases, it is strongly recommended that an individual retains counsel for both representation in court as well as for obtaining valuable legal advice.

Therefore, if you are facing charges for a DUI or DWI that could result in a second conviction on your criminal record, then you should contact a local DUI/DWI lawyer immediately for further assistance with the matter. A lawyer who has experience in handling cases that involve drunk driving issues will be able to explain how the driving laws in your state may affect the outcome of your case and can inform you of your rights and/or protections as a driver under these laws.

Your lawyer can also determine whether there are any defenses available that you can raise against the charges and can present an argument for those defenses on your behalf in court. Additionally, your lawyer may be able to petition the court for a reduced or an alternative sentence if the circumstances of your case justify you receiving a different punishment than the one you are initially issued (if any).

Alternatively, if it is not possible to request or reduce the penalties related to your case, your lawyer can help you understand how to fulfill the requirements of your sentence. After completing your sentence, your lawyer may also be able to assist you in getting those charges expunged from your criminal record once a certain period of time has passed.