Because each state sets its own standards for drunk driving consequences, you might conclude that some states are more lenient than others. However, even those states with laws that seem less stringent in some areas may be tougher in others. In North Carolina, for example, even a first offense DWI conviction may result in high fines, jail time and the loss of your driving privileges for a year or longer.
These are the penalties you may expect after a DWI. However, what you may not realize is that a conviction for drunk driving may have other outcomes you did not anticipate. In fact, for many drivers convicted of DWI, the collateral consequences can affect nearly every area of their lives and may take many years to overcome.
Serving your time
More and more states are mandating jail time for DWI, including after a first offense. Spending even one night behind bars can be confusing and frightening, bringing on a state of emotional distress for many. The more serious the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the more likely you will receive a sentence of jail as part of your penalty if you are convicted.
On the other hand, you may end up with probation, which many find preferable to incarceration. However, probation involves very specific terms you must meet, such as keeping a regular appointment with your probation officer to avoid the risk of returning to jail to complete your sentence. Probation also costs money, and you will be expected to pay a monthly administration fee out of your own pocket.
A drunk driving conviction can be financially devastating. Not only will you likely face fines and other legal costs, but you may have additional services and penalties to pay for along the way, including:
- Alcohol evaluation or counseling
- Ignition interlock installation, monthly fees and maintenance
- Transportation costs while your license is under suspension
- Restitution for any damage that resulted from your DWI
- The cost of license reinstatement
- Higher car insurance premiums
A DWI can be embarrassing and demoralizing, and you may even find your job is on the line if a court convicts you. Certainly, if you could go back in time, you would take steps to avoid the situation you are in and the charges you are facing. Since this is not possible, the wisest course of action may be to work toward the most positive outcome possible and take an honest look at how you can avoid these issues in the future.