Drinking and driving is no laughing matter. Many people don’t take it too seriously as an occasional habit. They assume they’ll never be caught and that everything will be fine. However, things only have to go wrong once for you find yourself facing the consequences for the rest of your life.
Not only is it dangerous for you and others to drive after drinking alcohol, but it’s also a crime that is taken very seriously. Getting caught, even if no one was hurt, can mean significant consequences. It can also lead to certain restrictions being placed on you. And, needless to say, failing to follow those restrictions can get you in even worse trouble. Here are some of the possible legal consequences of getting a DWI and what that could mean for your life. The exact penalties you might be faced with will depend on the state you live in and your criminal history.
One of the more common consequences of a DWI conviction, even for your very first one, is getting your license suspended. It’s tough to fight against a DWI charge successfully, and when you get convicted, you might have your license taken away for up to two years. This can create significant challenges in anyone’s life, and if your work involves driving or if there is no public transportation around you or anyone else that can regularly transport you, your life might become complicated for a while, which will naturally make things far more difficult for anyone else around you that depends on you.
Most states now even allow the arresting officer to immediately confiscate your license at the scene if you fail a breathalyzer test or refuse to take it. You’ll have to pay a significant fine as well, and mandatory sentencing laws mean that the judge won’t be able to make it easy on you, even if they want to.
Classes and Counseling
To successfully get your license back, many first-time offenders are required to take classes on the dangers of using alcohol and driving. These classes are becoming more difficult and in-depth all of the time as well. You may have to meet multiple times with a counselor and go through an intensive assessment to measure the extent of your alcohol habit as well. That counselor has the power to refer you for medical treatment, rehabilitation or mandatory Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Whatever requirements the counselor gives you, you’ll have to comply with all of their orders to get your driving privileges back.
Some states are passing laws that state that every single person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol will be required to install an ignition interlock device in every car that they drive. These devices override the ignition of the vehicle and require the driver to breathe into it every time they want to start the vehicle. If it detects any alcohol, it will lock down and the driver will have to wait to try to start the vehicle again.
It’s easy enough to state that everyone needs to do something. But what happens to those who ignore orders to install ignition interlock devices? That’s disobeying a court order, which may lead to another criminal charge. Beyond that, you’re likely to lose even more driving privileges than you may have retained before. Your license revocation period might be extended or even be restarted as well.
Time in Jail
In some cases, especially for repeat offenders, you might even spend time in jail for your offense. First-time offenders may spend a night or two in jail, but those with several DWIs on their record may find themselves imprisoned for significantly longer periods. Of course, jail time means more time that you’re not with your family and not able to work.
The consequences of a DWI conviction are not at all limited to legal problems and license suspensions and revocations. Once you begin driving again, you will have to pay for a higher level of car insurance. There’s also the not insignificant fact of your criminal record. Even when you’re done doing your time in counseling and getting your license back, that conviction will show up with every background check.