Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while impaired/driving while intoxicated (DWI), drunk driving, operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating [a] vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) in Ohio, drink-driving (UK), or impaired driving (Canada) is currently the crime or offense of driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs (including recreational drugs and those prescribed by physicians), to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely.
Although most states categorize a first DUI offense as a misdemeanor, do not underestimate the serious consequences of your first DUI arrest or conviction. When you are charged with your first DUI, you need to understand the mandatory sentence and punishments associated, the nature of a DUI charge, and the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction.
Consequences of a First DUI Offense
Whenever someone picks up their first DUI, they immediately think they will get probation because it’s a first DUI offense. Most first time DUI offenders do get placed on some type of probation, however, the court can still order you to serve time in county jail as a condition of your probation. Even for misdemeanor offenses, you may be required to serve some jail time, depending on the laws in your state. In addition to mandatory jail sentences, virtually every state will suspend your license for a period of time, even for your first DUI offense.
Depending on your history, you may be able to apply for an occupational driver’s license or a hardship license so that you can still drive to work and school. Conditions of probation for a DUI charge usually include a substantial fine, court costs, probation fees, and urinalysis fees. Your total monthly payment can easily equal a small car payment. You will also be required to attend and complete drug and alcohol counseling and community service hours.
Punishment for a First DUI
Generally, your first DUI charge will be considered a misdemeanor offense, and you will be punished with fines, community service, license suspension, and possible probation. However, other factors can change the level or nature of your charge resulting in enhanced sentences or penalties. For example, if you have an open container in your vehicle, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor, but your fine or mandatory jail sentence could be increased. If a child was present in the vehicle while you were driving, some states will elevate your misdemeanor charge to a felony offense, even if you have never had a prior drunk driving conviction.
In addition to the criminal nature of a DUI, every DUI has an administrative element that can be just as painful as the charge itself. For example, before you are ever convicted, some states will automatically suspend your license if you refuse to provide a breath test. This license suspension is a separate suspension from the one that comes after a DUI conviction.
Driving under the influence is one of the largest risk factors that lead to traffic accidents. For people in Europe between the age of 15 and 29, driving under the influence is one of the main causes of mortality.[ According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alcohol-related crashes cause approximately $37 billion in damages annually.[ DUI and alcohol-related crashes produce an estimated $45 billion in damages every year. Between attorney fees, fines, court fees, ignition interlock devices, and DMV fees a DUI charge could cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.[
Studies show that a high BAC increases the risk of accidents whereas it is not clear if a BAC of 0.01–0.05% slightly increases or decreases the risk.[
Traffic accidents are predominantly caused by driving under the influence for people in Europe between the age of 15 and 29, it is one of the main causes of mortality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alcohol-related crashes cause approximately $37 billion in damages annually. Every 51 minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related crash. When it comes to risk-taking there is a larger male to female ratio as personality traits, ant isociality and risk-taking are taken into consideration as they all are involved in DUI’s.] Over 7.7 million underage people ages 12–20 claim to drink alcohol, and on average, for every 100,000 underage Americans, 1.2 died in drunk-driving traffic accidents.[