What Happens When You Get a Second DUI Charge?
Every DUI charge is serious. Driving under the influence can lead to expensive fees, severe legal consequences, and dangerous circumstances that risk the lives of yourself and others. You shouldn’t take any DUI lightly, but a second charge is often more serious than the first. If you have a prior conviction on your driving record, courts will see you as a repeat offender and order stricter consequences for the DUI. As such, a second DUI charge can result in higher expenses and longer jail time or probation periods.
What exactly do these higher penalties look like? The answer varies from state to state, but there are a few general rules to know. Learn what happens when you get a second DUI charge with this thorough overview.
What Leads to a DUI Charge?
To understand the consequences you may face after a DUI charge, you must first understand the circumstances that led you to this situation. You can get a DUI or similar charge for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some states might charge you with an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) rather than a DUI. Keep in mind that an officer can charge you with a DUI even if you don’t feel intoxicated. These charges often rely on a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). According to federal law, anyone with a blood alcohol content level of .08% or higher counts as intoxicated. You might also face stricter BAC restrictions if you already have a DUI on your record.
How Is Your Second Charge Different?
When an officer pulls you over or arrests you for suspected drinking and driving, they will check your background and find that you already have a DUI conviction on your record. This labels you as a repeat offender, and it can lead to higher fees and longer sentences. However, some states only count a second DUI as a second charge if it occurs within a certain number of years after your first conviction. If it’s been long enough since your first offense—usually after a period of ten years—then your first DUI won’t show up on your record. A second DUI charge after this period will likely count as your first DUI, resulting in slightly less severe penalty.
Penalties of a Second DUI Charge
First and second DUI charges count as misdemeanors, though they can escalate into felonies based on certain circumstances, such as a high BAC or injury to another person. Despite this, your second DUI will still incur harsher penalties than the first. Every state handles fees and other penalties differently. You should read up on the specific laws and regulations in your local jurisdiction so that you know what you might face after a conviction. That said, here are a few things you can generally expect after your second DUI charge.
Every DUI comes with a long list of expenses. These costs might include traffic tickets, legal fines, court fees, or even bail—not to mention any vehicle repairs or property damage that might have occurred. How much these penalties cost will depend on the details of your DUI. However, after a second offense, you can usually expect to pay at least a couple thousand dollars. Many people successfully fight second DUI charges, but that also results in attorney fees that can cost a significant amount of money. On top of legal fines, you’ll also likely see an increase in your auto insurance premium after the DUI.
You’re much more likely to receive a jail sentence after a second DUI charge. A second-offense DUI can result in anywhere from four days to a year of prison time. You might also face jail time or community labor in lieu of a fine. Like many aspects of your DUI, the length of your jail sentence will depend on where you live and the severity of your actions behind the wheel. If your BAC was just over .08% and you didn’t cause any damage or harm to others, your DUI charge will be a misdemeanor and likely result in a shorter sentence. More intense or dangerous circumstances, on the other hand, will lead to a longer jail sentence.
In addition to consequences such as fines and jail time, the court may also order you to complete certain courses or requirements. These programs often come in the form of alcohol education classes or rehabilitation sentences. You might have to attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or complete DUI education courses that can last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. These types of sentences exist to teach individuals about the severity of alcohol addiction and driving under the influence. Programs such as these can also help you find the help you need to overcome an alcohol addiction and become an overall safer and more responsible person.
Ignition Interlock Device
In addition to educational requirements and courses, you may also need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before you can operate your vehicle, preventing the car from starting if there’s any alcohol in your blood. You’ll have to pay to install the device, resulting in even more fees. You must keep the ignition interlock in your vehicle for a required period of time after your DUI conviction.
As with any severe traffic violation, a DUI charge can result in the loss of your license. The state might suspend your license while you meet certain requirements, such as paying your fines or completing an alcohol education course. Alternatively, the suspension might simply depend on an established length of time. Either way, you’ll need to meet certain requirements before you can reinstate your license. Obtaining SR22 insurance is one such requirement. This guarantees to the state that you’re meeting the minimum liability requirements on your auto insurance. This SR22 requirement results in more expenses around your DUI charge, but it’s an essential part of reinstating your license, working through your penalties, and getting back to your normal life.
No matter what happens when you get a second DUI charge, Serenity Group is here to help. If your DUI charge includes obtaining the SR22 in California, learn more about the details of your requirement by visiting our website today.