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Typical Sentences For First Time DUI Offenders



Sentences for first-time DUI offenders will vary based on several factors:

  • the state you are in;
  • whether your state has an accelerated disposition program;
  • how high your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was measured at;
  • whether anyone else was injured; and
  • whether any minors were in the car with you.

No two states are the same

Every state's DUI penalties are different. If you are arrested for DUI, you should immediately retain an experienced attorney who is familiar with your state's DUI laws.

ARD - a great deal if you can get it

Some states have special programs to deal quickly with first-time DUI offenders who meet certain criteria. The district attorney must agree to admit you to this program, which, in Pennsylvania, for example, is called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. If you can get ARD, your license will not be suspended if your BAC is less than .01 percent, and no criminal conviction will appear on your record. Without ARD, you can get a suspension of up to six months, a $300 fine and a misdemeanor conviction. You can also expect to attend alcohol safety school and possible alcohol treatment.

Higher blood alcohol equals stiffer penalties

The penalties increase in most states for higher BAC levels. In Pennsylvania, if your BAC is over .01, and you don't get ARD, your license will be suspended for one year, you'll pay a fine of $500 to $5,000, and possibly serve between 48 hours and six months in prison.

It's worse if you injure someone

In Pennsylvania, injuring someone else will prevent you from getting ARD. Worse, it will subject you to the higher DUI penalties, even though your blood alcohol is lower than .01. This means higher fines, longer suspensions and possible jail time.

Minors in the car - it gets even worse

In states like California, you will receive mandatory jail time if you have a minor under the age of 14 in the car. You can expect to spend 48 hours in jail in addition to any other sentence. Many states will also bring charges for child endangerment. Most prosecutors will seek harsher sentences in these cases.