Driving any motorized vehicle after consuming alcohol is a serious offense, and it’s illegal. The most common name used to refer to this act is drinking under the influence or simply DUI. You don’t only become a danger to yourself but also to other road users. Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more is considered a DUI. In the United States, this is the most common criminal offense.
There are many dangers caused by drinking and driving. Having alcohol in your bloodstream can negatively impact your driving ability. It leads to poor judgment, slowed reaction time, poor coordination and concentration, decreased vision, and other issues. The law places severe penalties on this offense, and the laws keep getting stringent. Because of new laws enacted in 2021, a DUI charge is treated as a misdemeanor, which entails severe consequences. You could end up with a jail term, a permanent criminal record, and the other adverse penalties discussed below.
Consequences Of A DUI Charge In 2021
The law takes DUI offenses seriously, whether you’re a first-time or a repeat offender. The consequences you face include the following:
- A jail term of up to 12 months and a mandatory six months’ probation.
- Suspension of your driver’s license for six months
- Your vehicle is impounded for ten days
- 50 hours of community service
- Fines that can range between USD$500 and USD$1,000, exclusive of legal fees.
You’ll need to find an experienced DUI lawyer in your state or local area to defend your first-time offense for possible dismissal. For details on expert lawyers in Albany, check this recommended site. In this era of COVID-19, you don’t want to stay in jail even for a day. To avoid such a situation and all its penalties altogether, avoid driving under the influence.
However, if you’re facing a DUI charge, a seasoned attorney will be in the best position to defend you for dismissal. If charged and convicted, the following penalties will likely apply:
- A possible jail term depending on the circumstances of your arrest, blood alcohol level, and amount of damage or injuries caused.
- You’ll have a criminal charge in your records permanently, including fingerprints and a mug shot
- A suspended driver’s license for a period between one to three years
- Installing an ignition interlock device at own cost
- High court fees
- Your insurance could increase your rates for five years or more in excess of USD$10,000 each year
- Even a single conviction on your record can cause you to be denied entry into other countries outside the US
- Lawyers’ fees also apply, which vary from lawyer to lawyer
Although the laws vary slightly from state to state, these are some of the consequences you can expect in most states in 2021.
1. Harsher Penalties For DUI
Over the years, the consequences of a DUI charge and conviction keep getting harsher. Apart from the increase in the amount you have to pay in fines, the duration of the license suspension also keeps increasing. The severity of the penalty and fines depend on the level of intoxication of an individual and if they’re a repeat offender.
The DUI charges now include criminal negligence charges. This is especially applicable if a DUI charge includes extensive damage to property, wrongful death, or injuries. In addition, you’ll also need an ignition interlock device. For a first-time DUI offender, the law requires you to have the device for at least six months. Any other charge within ten years of your first charge, and you’ll have the device for two years.
2. Possible Longer Jail Terms
With the new DUI laws, there’s a mandatory minimum sentence depending on the arrest circumstances. This means that judges no longer have the discretion of setting a jail term lower than the minimum term. Under the new 2021 laws, the average fine for a first-time DUI conviction is USD$1,300, a likelihood of serving between 10 and 30 days in jail, and a driving license suspended for a year.
A judge can, however, also impose a longer period for a suspended license at their discretion. For instance, a blood alcohol content that is double the 0.8% legal limit can cause the judge to increase the length of the jail sentence.
For drivers with prior DUI convictions, the jail terms might be longer. You’ll also be required to enroll in an alcohol management program.
3. A Permanent Criminal Record
If charged and convicted with a DUI, you’ll get a permanent criminal record, which is the law in almost every state. You won’t be able to have this record expunged. A standard background check can reveal your criminal record to anyone in this era of instant information. This can affect your search for job opportunities in certain industries.
In most states, you won’t be able to get a job as a first responder, police, truck driver, teacher, state employee, and many other skilled jobs. Having a criminal record can also cause stigma since there are many situations where a background check is required. It can be stressful knowing that there are many instances where you’ll need to provide your criminal history.
However, the laws and policies regarding DUI charges and employment may change someday, but it may be a long time from now, if ever. As things stand right now, the laws will keep getting harsher. This is why it’s crucial to avoid the scenario in the first place. But in case you’re facing a DUI charge, ensure you do everything in your power to defend yourself to avoid a permanent criminal record effectively.
What these laws are trying to achieve is the reduction of DUI-related accidents and incidents. The laws are more severe and only vary slightly from state to state. They’re important to ensure the safety of other road users. If you have a pending DUI charge, the best thing to do is find an excellent DUI defense lawyer to defend your interests. This can help you avoid jail, a permanent criminal record or, other adverse penalties.