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Caught While Driving Drunk: Its Legal Consequences

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Filed under Automotive, Automotive Help, Editorial

Driving drunk – or even just being impaired – is a crime. If you’re caught, the consequences can be severe. In addition to fines and jail time, it’s also possible you’ll lose your driver’s license for a year or more. In some cases, you might also have to use an ignition interlock device on your car.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you should know that it can have serious legal consequences, both in the short term and long term. The following article will discuss these consequences and how to handle them.

The Legal Consequences of Driving Drunk

According to South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer, the average annual cost of accidents caused by drunk drivers is more than $44 billion. This number is not only in car damages, but in medical insurance, injury compensation, and even funeral costs for fatal car accidents.

So while drunk driving will cost you a lot of the legal consequences we’re going to list below, also bear in mind the financial consequences such as insurance claims, settlements, court costs and legal fees – your life can easily be ruined for a long time after a drunk driving accident.


If you have been arrested for driving while drunk, then the maximum punishment is one year in jail and a $500 fine. But if you are a repeat offender or are intoxicated to a dangerous degree, you could face harsher punishment.

If you’re sentenced to a year or more in jail, you’ll need to serve at least 85% of your sentence before you can be released. To determine what this percentage is, you have to determine how much time the court will allow you to serve, and you have to wait for the sentencing court to rule on your sentence.

If you serve less than 85% of your sentence, you’ll be put on supervised probation for one year. This is a good thing, since you’ll be able to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and find a job, if you’re able to do so. You will also have to complete a program of random drug testing, within a certain period of time.

If you serve more than 85% of your sentence, you will be sentenced to the rest of your term, but the judge will decide how much time you have to serve.

Finally, if you’re convicted of the same charge as a previous offense, you could face harsher penalties. The judge will base your sentence on the seriousness of the offense and the degree of your intoxication.

Traffic Violations and Court Costs

If you’ve been convicted of DUI or are charged with driving while impaired, then a criminal citation will be issued to you. This citation will be your ticket.

When you get this citation, you can choose to pay the ticket in full and have it voided immediately. The fine for such a ticket is usually only $125. However, if you have an outstanding warrant or owe child support, then your license will be suspended.

If you fail to pay the ticket, you can request an opportunity to pay in full before a hearing. The hearing will be a formality, since the judge will have already ruled.

If you don’t pay the ticket, the court will place a lien on your car. Your car will be considered a seized asset, and the court will take the money you owe from your car title. Then, the title will be returned to you, and you can start the entire process all over again.

License Suspension or Revocation

Some states automatically revoke your driver’s license if you’re convicted of driving drunk or using drugs.

Other states allow you to appeal the loss of your driver’s license. In these states, you can argue that you have a good reason for driving. Maybe you need to go to work or take care of children. In such cases, you’ll have to prove that you’re still able to drive safely.

If you lose your driver’s license, then you won’t be able to drive a car. This is likely to cause you a great deal of stress. You may have to change your job and home address.

The best way to deal with this issue is to consult with an attorney or consider seeking legal advice if you want to challenge your license revocation.

Ignition Interlock Devices

A special type of ignition interlock device is often required as part of your sentence for driving while intoxicated. This device prevents you from starting your car if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Some states require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders, while others require them for repeat offenders.

There are a few different types of ignition interlock devices, and some are portable while others are permanent. Most of these devices require you to pass a series of tests before they’re removed. This can be a tedious process, but you should follow your prescribed protocol.

You can usually get the devices removed if you’re able to prove that you’re drug and alcohol free for a specified period of time. However, this requires a great deal of effort on your part, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed.


Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have serious consequences. If you are facing charges or the possibility of going to jail for driving under the influence, then you should definitely consult an attorney to help you through the legal process.

The entire process can be a complicated one, so you should be careful to consider all your legal options before making any decisions. If you can’t afford to hire an attorney, then you can look into seeking legal assistance from a nonprofit organization.


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