Since drunk drivers pose a serious threat to everyone on the road, the US takes the crime very seriously; penalties range from probation and heavy fines all the way up to jail time and lifetime bans from driving.

All penalties aimed at deterrence aim at curbing an increase of DUI cases. Your attorney could even manage to have your lawsuit dropped outright.

This article presents five factors which will have an effect on your DUI penalty, so let’s dive in!

Depending on what circumstances led up to the crime, the punishments could get harsher. After being charged with DUI, Choosing the right DUI defense attorney should be your top priority. Your lawyer could negotiate reduced charges such as dry reckless to help mitigate serious repercussions; or they might even manage to get your lawsuit thrown out entirely!

1. Previous Records

First-time offenders typically face lesser punishment and sentences. But repeat offenders tend to receive harsher sentences. The following are the punishments for the various DUI offenders.

First timers

  • Jail time for up to six months.
  • Maximum fine of $1,000.

Second-time offenders:

  • Jail time shall not fall below 96 hours nor exceed one year.
  • Suspension of the license for two years.
  • Maximum fine of $1,000.

Third-time offenders:

  • Jail time should not exceed one year.
  • Suspension of license for three years.
  • Maximum fine of $1,000.

Felony DUI.

  • Jail time of between 16 months and three years at state prisons.
  • Suspension of license for five years.
  • Maximum fine of $1,000.

2. Refusing to Take the Chemical Test

Once police suspect someone of DUI, they immediately begin taking steps to arrest and charge them with DUI. The arrested motorist is thereby subject to take the chemical test. If they refuse, the penalty for the suspension of his license is as follows:

  • First-time refusal: one year. 
  • Second-time refusal: two years
  • Third-time refusal: Three years.

3. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Results

One uses a breath test to measure the concentration level of alcohol in the accused system. The higher the BAC results, the harsher the penalties. The acceptable level is 0.08% and below. Any conduct that goes beyond this limit could result in their arrest under DUI statute.

Punitive measures against first-time offenders for violating law include:

  • Jail time of at least three months should the result fall below 0.12%.
  • Jail time of no less than six months should it exceed 0.20 percent.
  • Jail time of at least nine months should it exceed 0.20 percent.
  • Minimum fine is $1,000 with maximum fine of $2,000.

On a second offense, convictions could result in minimum fines of $2000 and maximum fines of $4,000; possible jail time not exceeding one year may also apply.

Asian man holds a beer bottle while is driving a car


4. Nature of Third-Party Injury

The extent of third-party injury will greatly affect a DUI penalty. Accidents where no injuries occurred will not receive the same punishment as accidents that resulted in someone’s death on the road. Here is an outline of possible sanctions:

Injury as a result of a misdemeanor

  • Minimum fine: $390 | Maximum Fine: $5,000.
  • Jail sentence of no less than five days and not exceeding one year.
  • Restitution to victims.
  • Summary probation must last no less than three years and no more than five.
  • Suspension of license for one year.

Injury as a result of a felony

  • Minimum fine is $1,015. Maximum is $5,000.
  • Jail time must not exceed 10 years.
  • Restitution to the victims.
  • Summary probation must last no less than three years and no more than five.
  • Suspension of license for one year.

5. The Type of Car 

It is an offense under VC 23152d to drive a commercial vehicle when your BAC is over 0.04%. Punishment includes:

  • Three to five years informal probation.
  • Jail sentence of not more than six months.
  • Minimum fine: $390 Maximum fine: $1,000
  • Suspension of license for one year. 
  • Assessment fees must not fall between $1500 and $2000.


Seeking legal advice when the police charge you with DUI is crucial. Experienced attorneys know the nuances of court procedure as well as how to thwart prosecution claims, so consult a defense attorney immediately if you want to reduce your punishment and sentence.