What Happens When You Get A DUI? (2023 Guide) (2023)

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Getting a DUI charge can be a time of intense confusion and uncertainty. This guide breaks down what DUI means, what happens when you get a DUI charge and the type of penalties you could face.

What Is a DUI?

DUI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is most associated with drunk driving; however, some get behind the wheel when impaired by illicit drugs or prescription medication. Though DUI is the most widely used term, some states refer to DUII, DWI, OUI or OWI. Although the acronyms may change slightly, they all ultimately fall under the umbrella of attempting to drive a vehicle while impaired.

What Driving Under the Influence Means

It is important to note that a DUI involves the physical act of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you were publicly intoxicated but not attempting to drive, you might get held overnight for your safety or, if you were loud and troublesome, charged with disturbing the peace. A DUI involves several components.

Operating a Vehicle

When you turn the key to the ignition in a motor vehicle, press any of the buttons or activate gears, even if you are not driving, these actions can constitute the operation of a vehicle. You can be arrested for DUI if you do any of these things while illegally impaired.

You might think that as long as your car or truck is not running, you cannot get arrested for DUI, but this will ultimately depend on the state you are in and its laws. For example, you can be arrested for a DWI in Texas if you are found drunk in a parked car. It does not matter whether the vehicle is off and you are asleep; you could still be charged with a crime.

Alternately, you may not get into trouble in California if it is clear you had no intention of operating your vehicle. That state is more concerned with evidence that you attempted to move your car despite being impaired. If you left the keys in the ignition, it is evidence of a DUI offense, even if you parked and slept.

Sleeping in the back seat instead of in the driver’s seat might demonstrate that you lacked intent to commit a DUI and is a point to raise if charged.

Under the Influence

Impairment does not necessarily have to be from ingesting excessive alcohol or an illegal drug. For example, a sleep-deprived driver may exhibit symptoms similar to a drunk driver. What is important is the act of knowingly consuming a substance that would negatively impact your ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Field Sobriety Test

If you get pulled over and the officer suspects you are guilty of a DUI offense, you may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. That includes actions such as walking along a straight line, balancing on one foot, or reciting the alphabet backward. These actions are often hard to do if you are severely impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Your BAC can typically prove whether you are intoxicated beyond the legal limit. In most states, that limit is 0.08%, but Utah is the outlier with a maximum of 0.05%. Factors such as gender, age and weight can influence how quickly you reach the legal BAC limit. Increased alcohol tolerance can also lead to accidentally consuming more than what you meant to or not realizing you are impaired.

Refusing to Submit to a Breathalyzer

Some people think refusing to take a breathalyzer protects them from getting arrested for a DUI. That is simply not true. An officer might look at evidence such as obvious impairment to determine whether you are guilty of driving while intoxicated. In such an instance, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer can likely still cost you your license.

In Florida, not submitting to a breathalyzer test for your first DUI could mean losing your driver’s license for one year. The period varies from state to state, but ultimately, you can anticipate not being able to drive for a while if you refuse a breathalyzer.

Getting Arrested for DUI

A DUI arrest will have an immediate negative impact, as many states will automatically suspend your driver’s license. Some states will still allow you to drive despite this. Texas provides drivers arrested with a DUI with a temporary driving permit.

The severity of a DUI charge can increase the amount of bail you must pay to get out of jail. If you cannot make bail, you may find yourself incarcerated until your hearing.

Appearing in Court for DUI

You must show up on time and answer the DUI charge against you. Failure to appear could lead the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you need the court date moved due to a conflict, you should file a motion for a continuance.

When it is time to appear in court, it is a good idea to be represented by a lawyer who is well versed in that state’s law regarding DUI charges. If you cannot afford your own legal representation, the court will appoint a lawyer to handle your case.

If your lawyer argues successfully, the charge or charges will be dismissed without a conviction and there will be no DUI on your record.

Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing

While Texas provides those arrested for DWI with a temporary permit, you can attend an ALR hearing to contest the suspension of your regular driver’s license. You must request the hearing within 15 days of your arrest, but you may wait several months to get a hearing.

Long-Term Impact of What Happens When You Get a DUI

It is important to note that the penalties you will face if convicted of a DUI will depend on a variety of factors. In cases where it is your first offense and no one is harmed, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. Multiple DUI offenses can bring heftier consequences and greater long-term impact.

If convicted, you will likely lose your license for a few months and also have to pay a fine ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. A DUI misdemeanor may mean serving up to a year in jail with multiple years of probation and participating in mandatory community service or driving or substance abuse courses. The court may also order that an ignition interlock device be installed on your vehicle for a period of time.

Other consequences are not strictly fines or jail time. A DUI can impact your ability to get back and forth to work. In career fields that require you to drive, it means lost wages and potentially losing your job. You may come to depend on friends and family to take you to work or pick your kids up from school. Additionally, you will also see an increase in car insurance costs once you can drive again.

In instances where you are convicted of a DUI involving severe bodily harm to someone else or a fatality, you may be sent to prison for an extended period and forced to pay restitution to the victim or their family.

Even one DUI charge and conviction can have a vast and unintended effect on your life, and the consequences only get more harrowing with every added conviction.

Getting Help to Prevent Future DUI Charges

Everyone makes mistakes and the punishment for a first-time DUI typically coincides with the hope that it is enough to encourage the convicted party to avoid a repeat offense. However, for those prone to excessive alcohol consumption, there is reasonable concern of multiple DUIs over time.

If this is a concern, there are some options to reduce the threat of getting a future DUI:

  • Always have a designated driver when you go out if you know you will be drinking.
  • Plan to take a taxi or Uber home after a night out.
  • Contact a trusted friend or family member to pick you up rather than trying to drive if you drink.
  • Check into a hotel room overnight.
  • Drink at home rather than go out.

If you struggle with alcohol or drug abuse and want help or treatment, contact the SAMHSA’s National Helpline.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a DUI?

A DUI occurs when a person operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and is arrested by a law enforcement officer.

Is a DUI charge a felony or misdemeanor?

Often, a first-time DUI is treated as a misdemeanor. If there are exacerbating factors such as bodily harm, property damage or death, the charge could get elevated to a felony.

Will a DUI cause you to lose your driver’s license?

A DUI arrest often coincides with the immediate seizure of your driver’s license. In addition, a DUI conviction can cost you your license for an extended period.

How much is a DUI fine?

Depending on the state, you may pay a fine of between $150 or $6,250. It ultimately depends on the severity of the offense and if you have any prior convictions.


What are the DUI laws in Florida 2023? ›

Your first conviction for a DUI in the state will result in a fine between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months imprisonment. If your BAC is over 0.15 or if there was a minor in your vehicle, the fine will be between $1,000 and $2,000 and you face up to nine months imprisonment.

What is the most common penalty for a DUI? ›

While a number of jurisdictions require a minimum amount of jail time (often one or two days) if you are convicted, the most that you will face in the majority of first offense DUI cases is six months in jail.

How many years does it take for a DUI to be taken off your record in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, the 'look back' period for DUI is 10 years, meaning that any additional offenses during that time will result in increased penalties.

What is aggravated DUI in Illinois 2023? ›

An aggravated DUI is a DUI charge that is felony. Revocation of driving privileges for a period of at least ten years and suspends the driver's vehicle registration.

Will I go to jail for my first DUI in Florida? ›

Criminal Penalties You May Face for a First-Time DUI Conviction. A conviction for a first-time DUI offense in the state of Florida could cost you as much as $1,000, up to six months in jail, the possibility of losing your driver's license for up to six months, and fifty hours of community service.

Do you automatically lose your license with a DUI Florida? ›

Florida has strict laws against driving under the influence. Even a first-time DUI conviction will result in losing your license for a minimum of six months. If you injured another party while driving intoxicated, the suspension period will be longer.

How long do you go to jail for a DUI in Florida? ›

DUI Penalty Charts
Minimum PenaltyMaximum Penalty
Jail Time *30 DaysTwelve Months
* Enhanced Penalty if BAC greater than .15 or a minor in vehicle30 DaysTwelve Months
License SuspensionTen Years
Impoundment10 Days or 90 Days if Third DUI Within 5 Years
5 more rows

What state has the strictest DUI laws? ›

Toughest state for a first-time offense

There is a consensus that Arizona is the toughest state for a first-time DUI. The state is so stringent on first-time offenses that they have implemented programs typically reserved for repeat offenders.

What are the consequences of a DUI in Florida? ›

First offense without bodily injury: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum one year. First offense with bodily injury: Minimum three years revocation. Second offense within five years from prior conviction: Minimum five years revocation.

Is Georgia a second chance state? ›

The Objective of the 2nd Chance Act in Georgia

It allows individuals to petition to remove certain criminal convictions from their criminal records.

Can a DUI charge be dropped in Georgia? ›

Absolutely. Our legal services professionals have had DUI cases dismissed thousands of times or charges reduced. In cases that can't be “settled” with a non-DUI disposition, when the client elects to proceed with a trial, then a total acquittal is the only solution remaining for our Georgia attorneys to seek.

How do you get a DUI dismissed in Georgia? ›

To challenge DUI charges in Georgia, you will need to enter a plea of “not guilty” at your arraignment and then file motions for discovery or to acquire all the prosecution's evidence against you. The motions are simply how you determine what evidence the prosecutor has against you.

Is a DUI a felony Illinois? ›

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Illinois, and can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. In Illinois, felony DUI is also known as aggravated DUI. The seriousness of a conviction for aggravated DUI cannot be understated; a conviction could result in lengthy prison terms and high fines.

How many DUIs before you go to jail in Illinois? ›

Illinois DUI Laws and Penalties Chart
General Penalties:
Jail / Imprisonment1-364 Days4-15 years
Periodic ImprisonmentUp to 12 months3-4 years
SupervisionUp to 2 yearsNone
4 more rows

Is your first DUI in Illinois a felony? ›

The first DUI offense is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois that carries jail time of up to a year and a fine that ranges from $500 to $2,500. Other consequences you could face if you've been charged with a DUI for the first time in Illinois include: Expensive court costs, fees, and surcharges.

Is a first DUI a felony in Florida? ›

Even a first or second DUI can become a felony if there were “aggravating factors” involved. For instance, if someone was seriously hurt in your DUI incident, that's going to be a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

How far back does Florida look at DUI? ›

Florida's "Look-Back" Period

In Florida, the look-back period for prior DUI convictions is five years. It's worth noting that Florida's look-back period is fairly generous. Other states have instated a 10-year look-back periods or consider the lifetime driving record of the accused.

Can you beat a DUI case in Florida? ›

They are required to have probable cause to make an arrest. You may be able to beat your case if the law enforcement is unable to prove that there was a probable cause or that they had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle.

Can you drive for 10 days after a DUI in Florida? ›

What is the 10-day rule for DUI arrests in Florida? Florida law is unique in how it addresses Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and driving privileges. If you've been arrested for a DUI in Florida, you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to save your driver's license.

How long does a DUI last on your record in FL? ›

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Florida? While most states keep a DUI on your record for a minimum of ten years, Florida will keep a DUI conviction on your record for 75 years. The Sunshine State will not allow any DUI convictions to be expunged.

Can I drive after a DUI in Florida? ›

In Florida, if you are arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended immediately. You may drive during the subsequent 10 days using your DUI ticket as a temporary permit to drive only to work. These “business purpose only” (or “hardship”) privileges are good only for those 10 days immediately following your arrest.

How do you get a DUI dropped in Florida? ›

Among them is the fact that, once you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, it can never be expunged (removed) from your criminal record. Your best chance to avoid a DUI conviction is to take action before your trial with the help of an experienced DUI lawyer in Orlando.

How much does it cost to get out of a DUI in Florida? ›

What are the Potential Court Fines for a DUI in Florida?
First ConvictionMinimum of $500; maximum of $1,000.
Third ConvictionMinimum of $2,000; maximum of $5,000.
First Conviction with aggravating factorsMinimum of $1,000; maximum of $2,000.
Second Conviction with aggravating factorsMinimum of $2,000; maximum of $4,000.
6 more rows

What is the total cost of a DUI in Florida? ›

According to the Florida Statutes, section 316.193, penalties for a first DUI conviction include: A fine of no less than $500, but not to exceed $1,000. A fine of no less than $1,000, but not to exceed $2,000, if the driver's blood or breath alcohol level was above . 15.

What state is easiest on DUI? ›

South Dakota

What city in Florida has the most duis? ›

Sarasota is the most dangerous city in Florida for DUI deaths. It had 12.2 deaths per 100,000 residents per year over the last three years, making it nearly twice as deadly on a per-resident basis as the second-most-dangerous city, Lakeland.

What is the lowest level of DUI? ›

Level IV is the lowest level with the least strict punishments, and Level I is the highest and most severe level.

How much is your first DUI in Florida? ›

Florida DUI Information

The following information applies to those with their first conviction. Fines: If this is your first conviction, your fine will be between $500–$2,000. If your blood alcohol level is . 15 or higher, or you have a minor in the vehicle, the fine will be between $2,000–$4,000.

What happens if you plead guilty to a DUI in Florida? ›

Potential Punishment

DUI convictions are regarded as a misdemeanor in Florida. The punishment may include jail time for up to six months as well as imposition of a monetary fine.

What crimes Cannot be expunged in Georgia? ›

Most misdemeanor convictions are eligible for expungement, but an individual can seek expungement for a maximum of two separate misdemeanor convictions. Serious Felony convictions such as armed robbery and aggravated stalking are not eligible for expungement.

Is Georgia a use it or lose it state? ›

Employers in Georgia are free to adopt a “Use-It-or-Lose-It” vacation policy. A Use-It-or-Lose-It vacation policy means that an employer does not have to pay employees for unused vacation leave at the end of the year. Therefore, an employee loses all remaining vacation days, unpaid.

Is Georgia a 3 strike state? ›

Georgia's Three Strikes Law is provision about half of the states have adopted to keep habitual offenders of felony crimes off the street. The result of being charged with a 3 strikes law is 25 years to life without the ability for parole. In Georgia these offenses count towards your 3 strikes limit: Murder.

What is the best case scenario for a DUI? ›

A: The best-case scenario for a DUI is to have the charges against you dismissed or to be acquitted of the charges in court. However, the likelihood of this outcome will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.

Can you plead no low to DUI in Georgia? ›

Nolo pleas were common for DUI charges in Georgia until 1997 when the laws changed. After that, a person could still plead nolo for their DUI charge but they will face the same license consequences as if they pled guilty. Additionally, most Georgia judges will not accept a nolo plea for DUI charges.

What happens if you refuse a DUI test in Georgia? ›

Politely refusing to participate in the field sobriety test may work in your favor, but it does not protect you from an arrest. Under implied consent, refusing to take a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test results in license suspension.

What can a DUI get reduced to in Georgia? ›

Georgia DUI to Reckless Driving
  • A reduction to Reckless Driving is technically a win as the DUI charge is dismissed.
  • There is no mandatory drivers license suspension with a Reckless Driving conviction, just 4 points on your license.

Should I get a lawyer for my first DUI Georgia? ›

The minimum penalties for a first DUI in Georgia can lead to jail time and a suspension of your driver's license. If you have been charged with your first DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia DUI lawyer.

What to do in a DUI stop in Georgia? ›

What to do if pulled over for a Georgia DUI
  1. Pull Over. ...
  2. Have Your Papers In Order. ...
  3. Bring Passengers Under Control. ...
  4. Be Polite. ...
  5. Limit Your Statements. ...
  6. Obey Lawful Orders of an Officer. ...
  7. Decline to Do Field Sobriety Exercises. ...
  8. Be Careful in Agreeing to a Chemical Test.

Does a DUI come up on a background check in Illinois? ›

A drunk driving conviction, even if it was your first offense, will show up on your criminal record. And unfortunately, under Illinois law, you're not allowed to expunge or seal that conviction.

What are the DUI laws in Illinois 2023? ›

Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC)

It is illegal to drive if your BAC is . 08% or more. However, you can be convicted of a DUI if your BAC is less than . 08% and your driving ability is impaired.

Does a DUI ever go off your record in Illinois? ›

In Illinois, any alcohol or drug criminal offense, including a DUI, will remain on a person's record forever. If you're convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your driving privileges will be revoked for a minimum of one year for a first-time DUI criminal offense.

What is the most common sentence for a DUI? ›

While a number of jurisdictions require a minimum amount of jail time (often one or two days) if you are convicted, the most that you will face in the majority of first offense DUI cases is six months in jail.

How much is a first DUI in Illinois? ›

First-time DUI convictions are punishable by a fine of $500-$2,500 (unless there are aggravating circumstances that mean the offense is punishable as a felony). Second-time offenses are also punishable by a fine of up to $2,5000, while third and subsequent-time offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $25,000.

How many court dates for DUI in Illinois? ›

You will likely attend more than one court date regarding your DUI, including your trial. You should expect to attend three to five court dates over the course of several months or a year. The purpose of each court hearing may vary. Your attorney may present evidence at each to support your defense.

What is the best outcome for a DUI in Illinois? ›

Dismissal. The first possible outcome in an Illinois DUI case is a dismissal of the DUI criminal charge. Obviously, the most sought after outcome in any drunk driving charge is to have the DUI case dismissed.

What happens at first court date for DUI in Illinois? ›

The Trial. A DUI offense is a criminal charge. The driver facing the charge will be required to appear in front of a judge to be advised of the charge(s) against them during their court hearing. The prosecution and the defendant's attorney will exchange evidence and file different pretrial motions.

How long do you lose your license for DUI in Illinois? ›

One DUI conviction results in a revoked license for one year. Two DUI convictions in any 20-year period results in a revoked license for five years. Three DUI convictions result in a revoked license for 10 years. Four DUI convictions result in a revoked license for life.

What are the new insurance laws in Florida 2023? ›

On March 24, 2023, Florida replaced its pure comparative negligence system with a modified comparative negligence system. Under this system, a plaintiff can recover in proportion to the defendants' percentage of responsibility only if the plaintiff's own share of responsibility is 50 percent or less.

What is the law for July 1 2023 in Florida? ›

The requirement to use E-Verify begins this July 1, 2023. Employers must report compliance with the E-Verify law on the first unemployment tax return filed each calendar year. Potential penalties of $1,000 for each day the employer does not comply with the requirements start next year, July 1, 2024.

What are the DUI guidelines for Florida? ›

Under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of . 08 or above.

How strict is Florida for DUI? ›

One reason for Florida's comparatively low criminal penalties ranking is that the state does not have a minimum jail time in place for a first DUI offense. Florida does require a minimum 10 days of jail time for a second offense, however, and a third offense is treated as an automatic felony.

What is the tort reform bill in Florida 2023? ›

On March 24, 2023, a sweeping tort reform bill was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. House Bill 837 was touted by DeSantis as being designed to reduce frivolous lawsuits and prevent predatory practices of trial attorneys.

How much will Florida insurance go up in 2023? ›

Florida homeowners are expected to see their property insurance rates jump 40 percent in 2023, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

What is the insurance forecast for 2023? ›

Real life premiums globally are expected to grow by 1.9% in 2023—down from a 3.5% growth expectation a year ago—with improvements in both emerging and advanced markets based on heightened demand for protection-oriented products and high interest rates boosting demand for guaranteed savings products.

What is the 7 year law in Florida? ›

Although not enforced, the law that had been in effect for more than 140 years made it illegal for couples to live together in Florida without being married. Contrary to popular belief, there is no fixed period of time. This is something that the state will check because it is relative.

What happens on july 1st 2023? ›

National days on Sat Jul 1st, 2023. Explore worldwide events, festivals, funny, weird, and national days on this day! It's International Chicken Wing Day, National Postal Workers Day, International Joke Day, Second Half of the Year Day, National Hop-A-Park Day… and much more!

What is the 3 day law in Florida? ›

A sale for future services can be cancelled by the buyer by notifying the seller within three business days from the date the buyer signs the contract. There is no requirement that the notice be made in writing. However, it is a better practice for the buyer to send written notice to the seller by certified mail.

Is Florida tough on DUI? ›

Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country, even for first-time offenders of DUI. Not to mention, after a Florida DUI conviction, you are likely to see some of the unseen, or collateral consequences of a DUI, starting with a considerable increase in your auto insurance rates.

Should you refuse DUI test Florida? ›

In Florida, you are not legally required to perform a field sobriety test when you're stopped for a DUI. The police will not tell you this fact. If you have had more than a couple of drinks, it is usually better to refuse rather than perform the test poorly.

How long does it take a DUI to fall off in Florida? ›

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Florida? While most states keep a DUI on your record for a minimum of ten years, Florida will keep a DUI conviction on your record for 75 years. The Sunshine State will not allow any DUI convictions to be expunged.


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