Learn More About DWIs

Everything You Need to Know About a Drinking and Driving Charge

May 11, 2016

In many states, the legal limit is .08%, but there are several factors that can lead into a drunk driving conviction. This guide walks through the different offenses and possible implications.

Ignition Interlock

An ignition interlock is a device installed in a vehicle that requires a driver to blow into the machine in order to detect alcohol. The driver must register under the set BAC in order to start the car. An ignition interlock can be used as an alternate sentence, or be included as a part of a larger sentences. The convicted person usually has to pay for the device which can cost up to $200 and there is often a monthly fee attached for maintenance. All states use ignition interlocks in sentencing and at least half of the states require ignition interlock for a DWI charge.

Under 21

The country-wide drinking age limit is 21, therefore anyone under that age is consuming alcohol illegally. Many states have a “zero tolerance” policy, which means underage consumers can be convicted of a DWI or DUI, even if the BAC in under the registered legal limit. Depending on the age, state, and severity of the crime, an underage person can be tried as an adult.

Multiple Offenses

Repeated drinking and driving offenses

As long as the drunk driving conviction remains on a person’s record, it can still be concerned a multiple offense, even if the convictions are decades apart. There is a federal mandate of one year driving suspension, vehicle sanction for one year, alcohol treatment, and a minimum of five days in prison or 30 days of community service. Several states also add additional fees and sentencing, including ignition interlock device, additional jail time, and longer probation periods.

Driving Suspension

Almost all states require some type of driving privilege suspension after a DWI/DUI conviction. In some states, that requires the use of ignition interlock devices. In other states, that restricts the actual driver’s license. Over half of states have laws in place to sanction your vehicle or license plate which can mean confiscation, impoundment, or forfeiture.

Enhanced BAC Penalty

Nearly every state has a penalty for driver’s with an “enhanced BAC.” Enhanced BAC levels are set state-by-state and identify a BAC that is considered to be dangerously high. Most states have established their enhanced BAC at around 0.15, but vary from 0.1 to 0.2. With an enhanced BAC conviction, it is common for a sentence to include jail time, ignition interlock, treatment, and fines.

If you’re facing a drinking and driving charge with the possibility of an increase conviction, you need an attorney that is prepared to fight for you. Find a top rated attorney today!

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Updated: May 12, 2016 at 10:02 am