A Tacoma DUI attorney may be able to provide assistance if you have been charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. In either case, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you are determined to be guilty, whether through a plea as a defendant or after a trial by jury, your penalty depends on state law as well as whether there were aggravating circumstances. Your cooperation with the police also significantly determines the penalties you face.
The first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor in all states and punishable by no more than six months in jail. Under certain circumstances, a first-offense DUI or DWI may result in more than six months in jail, but only if the offense meets certain criteria. If your blood-alcohol content was particularly high, you may face an increased sentence. It is common for many states to require a minimum jail sentence of several days on a first offense. Further offenses may result in jail time of several months to one year. If your DUI or DWI has been classified as a felony offense, whether because someone else was killed or injured or because it was your third or fourth offense, you will likely face a jail sentence of several years. State law varies in this regard and heavily considers the individual facts of the case as well as the judge’s discretion. Your Tacoma DUI attorney may be able to help you determine the penalties in your state.
Fines for a DUI or DWI can range from $500 to $2,000. These fines may be imposed on top of a jail sentence or other punitive action.
Driver’s License Revocation
You are likely to lose your driver’s license or have your license suspended for a significant period of time after a DUI or DWI charge for which you are found guilty. Many states suspend a first-time offender’s license for 90 days, a second-time offender’s license for one year and a third-time offender’s license for three years. If you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test, you may have your license suspended regardless of whether you were found guilty. Some steps further ensure that a repeat offender is not allowed back on the road by confiscating a car or canceling the registration. Other states require that an ignition interlock device is attacked to the offender’s vehicle. This device makes it necessary for small handheld alcohol sensor units to be attached to the car’s dashboard. When the driver gets behind the wheel, he must blow into the sensor unit to have his blood-alcohol tested. If the blood-alcohol level is above a certain percentage, the vehicle will not start.
Alternative Forms of Punishment
Many states impose court sentences that include educational teaching and prevention programs. These programs are designed to educate about alcohol abuse, assess possible addiction and dependency issues and facilitate community service as well as victim restitution. Judges may recommend such programs rather than jail time or fines, especially if you are a first-time offender. Other judges may combine such steps with other penalties, including jail time and fines.
Any minor who is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is likely to be tried the same if not more harshly than an adult. Because the legal drinking age is 21 in most areas, drinking before the age of majority is considered a crime in addition to driving under the influence. Some states have a penalty for underage drivers that is based on a standard much lower than the typical 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level for adults. Minors may face adult sentences and have their licenses suspended for an entire year.
In addition to the legal consequences you may face if you are convicted of a DUI or DWI charge, your insurance company may cancel your car insurance policy or significantly raise your premiums because of the change in your driving record. A drunk driving charge remains on your record for years to come, so this can have long-term financial consequences. If your driver’s license is suspended, you are likely to have your policy canceled as well. There are multiple jobs that will not allow someone who has obtained a DUI or DWI to apply to as well, including most vehicle-related jobs. You may also face a civil lawsuit in addition to any criminal penalties you incur.
Contact a Tacoma DUI Attorney
Call Greene & Lloyd, PLLC today (253) 770-0808 for a Tacoma DUI attorney you can trust to help you navigate the process.