DWI (Driving while intoxicated) here refers to a wide variety of crimes that include driving while intoxicated, driving while under the influence, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DWI laws vary from state to state. For example, there are some DWI states which do not have a minimum age, although many states do have a minimum age. In addition, some states use different punishments for first-time and repeat DWI offenders. The penalties and punishments for DWI vary from state to state, as well as from city to city and even from state to state within a state.
A first offense of DWI results in the individual serving time in jail. A second offense results in stricter penalties, including license suspension and possible jail time. A third or subsequent offense is a more serious offense and may result in substantial legal penalties. For example, the penalties for second and subsequent DWI convictions are often more severe than the penalties for the first DWI conviction.
There are several different penalties for a first DWI conviction. First, the individual will most likely be required to undergo an ignition interlock device installation. The device prevents an ignition, and when completed, prevents the car from being able to start without the ignition key held by an adult. In some jurisdictions, this install may be mandatory for all vehicles, while in others it is simply a requirement for vehicles in certain geographic areas.
Second, the penalties for DWI increase dramatically if the offender is also guilty of another violent crime, such as assault. In addition, the minimum sentence for a first DWI offense is three years in state prison. The minimum sentence for second DWI is five years in state prison. The maximum penalties for third and subsequent DWI offenses are seven and eight years in state prison, respectively. Some jurisdictions, such as New York, have statutory enhancements that are applied to these penalties. However, in most jurisdictions, the penalties for first and subsequent DWI offenses are identical.
Third, after your first arrest for DWI, you may be ordered to undergo reanalysis. Your blood, urine, or breath samples will be drawn and analyzed under a microscope to determine your alcohol level. If your blood alcohol level is greater than the legal limit, then the judge will require you to undergo an additional Breathalyzer test, which involves placing your tongue on a device that creates a suction and holds your tongue inside the mouth for a limited amount of time. The test is conclusive in determining your alcohol level, and then the judge will issue a DWI citation. In addition to the mandatory interlock device requirement, you will also face jail time if your blood alcohol level is greater than a certain limit at the time of your arrest.
Fourth, if your second DWI conviction is not a first offense, then your third conviction for DWI is considered a felony in many states, carrying penalties of up to one year in jail time and a significant fine. Your license can be suspended indefinitely if you are convicted of this fourth offense. On a first offense, your penalties will usually be associated with graduated fines that decrease over time. If you have a prior criminal history of drunk driving, other DWI information, or a prior criminal record, your sentence may be increased substantially.