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One of the most dangerous things a person can do is to drive a car while intoxicated. Thousands of people die in drunk driving accidents on a monthly basis. In the United States, penalties for driving under the influence vary from state to state. They’re mandated by the road safety laws and guidelines that each state enacts. Regardless of your state, however, your penalties will become more severe if there are previous DWI arrests or convictions on your criminal record.
In every state, the first DWI a driver incurs is considered a misdemeanor. However, having a misdemeanor DWI on your record means that further arrests might incur felony charges. You may end up doing jail time. If there is more than one previous DWI, or you had a particularly egregious offense, you may find yourself spending several years in prison.
After your first DWI offense, subsequent offenses cause your license to be suspended or revoked for much longer periods of tie. Some states, when a person gets a third DWI conviction, will permanently revoke their driver’s license. You will no longer have the privilege of driving a car. For most people, that means a serious loss of independence, freedom, and overall control of life. Even if you don’t lose your license permanently, a second or third DUI offense will typically result in a license revocation for one or more years.
With every new DWI you get, you’ll be facing greatly increased fines. You might also be put on probation and have to report to a probation officer. Most people will be sentenced to some kind of DUI education program and mandatory addiction counseling. Your car will also typically have an ignition interlock installed before you’re allowed to drive.
Ignition interlock devices are sophisticated breathalyzers installed directly in your car. Before your engine will start, you have to provide a sample of your breath. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, you won’t be able to start the car. This is a safety measure used to ensure you don’t drive drunk again. When you have repeat offenses on your record, the court assumes there will be more repeats. Since drunk driving is dangerous to all the motorists on the road, safety precautions are taken.
You may be aware that the legal alcohol limit for adults over the age of 21 is .08. However, you typically need to pass the breathalyzer test with a score of .02 or lower.
Once you’ve started your car, there will be periodic “rolling retests.” These tests continually measure your breath while you’re driving to make sure you don’t get someone else to provide a sample or begin drinking while on the road. If your breath sample fails the test while you’re en route, or you don’t provide a sample, your horn will begin honking and your lights will flash until the car is pulled over and powered down.
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI with previous DWI convictions, you need to get in contact with a skilled criminal lawyer as soon as possible. No matter what state you live in, repeat DWI offenders are treated very seriously. Driving under the influence risks other people’s lives, and many people consider it an act of unwitting violence. Your charges may be even more severe if you cause an accident or injuries while you drive under the influence.
Your defense lawyer will help you understand your options. Without a strong defender behind you, you might go bankrupt from the fines or face potential years in prison. Defense attorneys understand how the criminal justice system works. They know how to navigate you through all portions of the criminal justice process.
The most important thing is that you commit to taking care of yourself. Multiple DUIs are a sign that you have a serious substance use problem. You’ll almost certainly be sentenced to some kind of mental health treatment. Sometimes it can also help to get ahead of things. If you recognize that you have a problem, and you’re ready to start taking care of that problem, you might enroll yourself in a detox center or inpatient rehab.
Not only is this course of action good for your physical and mental health, but it will often help bolster your case. The judge wants to see that you understand the severity of your actions and take responsibility for them. They want to know that you’re trying to get help for your problem. A person who seeks addiction treatment will often get a lighter sentence than one who resists treatment at every turn.