Will You Go to Jail for a First-time DWI?


Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence are serious crimes. State laws vary, but in most places, a DWI or DUI is a misdemeanor. However, the consequences can be quite serious. Even if it is your first offense, you may face several penalties. Although the laws are different in each state, there are some general guidelines.

Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated

When you are arrested for DWI/DUI, you may go to jail for a night or two until you are arraigned. The arraignment is the formal legal process to inform you of the charges against you. The judge may have you post a bond to guarantee your appearance in court, but it is completely up to the judge’s discretion. You will have to plead guilty or not guilty. Most people plead not guilty to give their lawyer time to assess their case and negotiate with the prosecutor. If you plead guilty at the arraignment, the judge can sentence you right then and there.

Criminal penalties for DWI include paying fines to the court of up to $1,000 or more. You may also be responsible for court costs. Most first-time DUIs do not include mandatory jail time, but the judge could still make you go to jail for up to a year. In addition, your license may be suspended, either through the criminal charges or administratively with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. You may have to pay more fines to get it back.

The court may make you attend a substance abuse treatment program as part of your consequences. You have to pay for this out of your own pocket. Your insurance rates will most likely increase, and some insurance companies may even cancel your policy if you are convicted of DWI/DUI. Your job may also be in jeopardy for DUI charges. If you have a CDL, you may lose your license.

If you injured or killed another person while driving under the influence, the consequences could be even higher. You may face felony charges and mandatory jail time. Your case depends on your own situation and the laws in the jurisdiction where you are charged. Do not think that pleading guilty will be easier than fighting for your rights.

You Need a Legal Advocate

A DUI/DWI will be on your record for many years. This is not something you should take lightly. Talk to a DUI lawyer who can help you navigate the process. There may be legal avenues to help you avoid jail time and to reduce the charges. A DWI lawyer, like a DWI lawyer in Fairfax, VA, may be able to help you avoid jail time. You should explore all your options.

Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into whether or not you will go to jail if you get arrested for a DWI.