Driving when you have alcohol in your system can be a costly mistake. Alcohol affects your decision-making ability and could lead to a tragic and totally preventable collision. It is against the law to drive while drunk in all 50 states, including Hawaii.
The technical term for a drunk driving offense is an operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) charge. Those who are over the legal limit or who show obvious signs of impaired ability could face OVUII charges. What penalties will that defendant face if they plead guilty or get convicted in criminal court?
Your driving history determines the penalties
If you have never gotten arrested for drunk driving before, then you will face the most lenient penalties. You may have to attend a substance abuse rehabilitation program. You will likely need to perform 72 hours of community service, and you may spend up to 5 days in prison. There could also be a fine of up to $1,000. The state could suspend your driver’s license for up to a year and require that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
If you get arrested for a second OVUII charge within five years of your first, the penalties will be much more serious. The state may suspend your license for up to two years. The minimum community service required increases to 240 hours. You could spend up to 30 days in state custody. The fine also increases to a maximum of $1,500.
Someone who has a third offense in a five-year period could pay up to $2,500 in fines. Like a second-time offender, they will lose their driver’s license for two years and face up to 30 days in state custody although the minimum incarceration increases to 10 days. There are certain situations that may also increase the penalties, such as driving with a passenger under the age of 15 while under the influence.
Conviction is not certain
Some people feel like they must plead guilty to an OVUII charge because there is no way to defend against such accusations. However, there could be multiple ways to raise a reasonable doubt in your case, depending on the circumstances, you’re driving history and the evidence the state has against you.
Understanding the penalties of a drunk driving offense might help you see the value in defending yourself instead of pleading guilty.