Driving Under the Influence: Laws & Penalties

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that can have devastating consequences for those convicted. The offense involves operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. The rate you get to this level depends on your gender and weight but in most cases, 2 or 3 drinks will get you there.

If a person’s BAC is at or above this level, they are legally drunk. This means they can be arrested and face a DUI lawsuit. Therefore, you must abstain from driving when drunk or intoxicated.

Despite the consequences of DUIs, many people still choose to drink and drive. Some may not fully understand the risks they are taking. However, others know the risks, but do not believe that they will get caught. Little do they know that getting caught and DUI cases should be the least of their worries.

DUIs are a public health concern across the world. This is because DUIs are one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes per day. This figure translates to about one death every 52 minutes.

The NHTSA data also reveals that people aged between 21 and 24 are responsible for 27% of fatal alcohol-impaired crashes. This data also shows that 25-34-year-olds follow closely, accounting for 25% of vehicle crashes.  

DUI lawyers can confirm that the effects of a DUI conviction are severe. They come with possible jail time, fines, and the loss of driving privileges. In other instances, a DUI conviction can also lead to increased insurance rates, difficulty finding employment, and a criminal record.

The laws differ across states, but you will find that some states have similar laws. For example, you will discover that the fines and jail time increase with every repeat offense.

DUI Laws and Penalties

There is a process before you are arrested for a DUI. First, there must be probable cause to warrant an officer to stop a driver. This may include speeding, driving too slowly, or any other sign that indicates the driver has committed a crime.  

The officer then confronts the driver in their vehicle. If there are signs the driver is intoxicated, the driver is asked to step out of the car for screening. This may lead to an arrest and booking.

The Implied Consent Law

Motorists are legally obligated to comply when a chemical test is administered when arrested for driving under the influence. The consent is implied because you opt-in when you drive on public roadways.

Common chemical tests include urine, blood, and breath tests. You may get to choose which test you prefer to take. However, blood and breath tests are the most common. Refusing to take the chemical test comes with state penalties.

The penalties vary across states, but they include license suspension. The act might bear additional restrictions like installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. Drivers who refuse testing may also be denied a hardship license when they apply.

The First DUI Conviction

There are several penalties for a driver’s first dui lawyers kansas city conviction. The conviction includes a fine of between $500 and $1000, a 6-month jail term, and license revocation. However, these may increase depending on circumstances.

If you had a minor in the car or your blood alcohol level was .15 or higher, the fine increases to between $1,000–$2,000. There is also an increase in jail terms. You are subject to a jail term of not more than nine months.

Your license is revoked for a period of between 180 days and a year. You may, however, apply for a hardship license if you have valid reasons why you need to continue driving. Reasons may include keeping your job, accessing medical care, or taking kids to school.

If your BAC was above .15 you have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) into your vehicles for six months. In states like Florida, you are also subject to 50 hours of community service or a fine of $10 for every mandatory hour. You also get no more than one year of probation.

The Second DUI Conviction

For your second DUI, a conviction may be a fine of between $1,000–$2,000, a jail term of up to 9 months, and license revocation. Your license will be revoked for anywhere between 180 days and one year.

If your second DUI offense occurs within five years of your first offense, you are subject to harsher penalties. The minimum jail term is not less than 10 days, 5 years for license revocation, and 30 days for vehicle impoundment.

If your BAC was .15 or above, the judge will fine you between $2,000 to $4,000. The same applies if a minor was in the vehicle. Your jail term sentence may also increase to 12 months, and you will have to install an IID to your car for two years.

The Third DUI Conviction

This DUI can be classified as a felony if it occurs within 10 years of prior convictions. This warrants a jail term of anywhere between 30 days and five years. There is a 90-day vehicle impoundment and 10 years of license revocation.

The fine for a third offense is between $2,000 to $5,000. However, a BAC of .15 or above guarantees a fine of at least $4000. There is also mandatory monthly-reporting probation involved. The judge may also rule that you must attend a substance abuse course, and get regular sobriety and drug monitoring.

Other DUIs

Your fourth or any subsequent DUI arrest are treated as a felony regardless of when they occur. Also, any DUI that results in bodily harm or death is treated as a felony. 


Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and a serious crime. Diving while drunk results in fatal accidents and loss of life, therefore, desist from drunk driving. There are also multiple penalties involved if you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated.

The common penalties for DUIs include fines, jail term, community service, and revocation of your driver’s license. With each subsequent arrest, the fines and penalties increase. You also get higher penalties if you drive with a minor, or have a BAC of .5 or above.