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What Are the Penalties for a DUI?

When you or a loved one are charged with a DUI or DWI-related offense, it can be nerve-racking not to know what kind of penalty you may face. As most people know, penalties vary by state. But what are the most common punishments for a DUI charge?

Here you’ll find some idea of what to expect when you’ve been charged with a DUI. Don’t forget to check out DUI services in Lexington if you need them. Also keep in mind that not only will your punishment be different depending on the state, but also on whether this is a first, second, third, etc. offense.


The most common penalty for an average DUI offense is a fine. These can range from around $500 for first-time offenses to about two grand for larger or multiple offenses. You will almost never escape a fine for a DUI charge.


It’s not unusual to be sentenced to a certain amount of jail time for a DUI offense. In some states first offenders can’t be jailed, but the penalty usually goes from 30 days to years when aggravating circumstances are involved. Fourth offenders are usually jailed for at least 120 days. You may also be placed on probation once your jail time is up.


Very often a DUI offender will be sentenced to a driver’s license suspension, which can last anywhere from 30 days to 60 months. Although you can sometimes obtain what is known as a “hardship license” for necessary driving, don’t count on it. Sometimes you can also have your car taken away or a special device attached to it to make sure you don’t drive it.

Factors of Punishment 

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There are many factors that determine the gravity of a DUI penalty, such as the state in which the offense took place or the record of the offender. First-offense penalties (usually classed as misdemeanors) will of course be lighter than, say, fourth offense penalties (which are often regarded as Class D felonies.) The BAC or blood alcohol concentration of the offender can also increase the penalty if it is high, as well as refusal to take a test to determine the BAC of the driver.

Another factor in punishment is the age of the offender. While drivers under 21 aren’t usually jailed for DUI offenses, they will usually get a zero-tolerance offense, meaning that any alcohol in their system makes them liable to punishment.

And of course, if anyone was hurt or killed in a DUI-related accident, the driver is usually classed as a felon and subject to much more severe penalties.

These are the most common penalties for DUI offenses, but others are emerging. In recent years community service and a period of substance abuse treatment have become more popular options. And there are almost always additional consequences such as increased insurance rates, possible injury or damage to property, and that misdemeanor on your record. All these punishments are designed to help deter and correct offenders so that hopefully such incidents won’t happen again, making the roads safer for everyone else.