Leaders in Law

License Suspension: A Nasty Consequence of a DWI Conviction

Drunk driving can have severe consequences. In the US, it is considered a criminal offense and can result in your license being suspended.

If you were charged with a DWI and face the possibility of your license being suspended, you should hire a competent lawyer. Experienced DWI lawyers can help you deal with the charges against you and even reduce the penalties in some cases.

DWI definition

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.”

Every state has its own definition of drunk driving. They’re often referred to as DUI, DWI, and OWI, among other terms.

In some states, you can be convicted even if the vehicle isn’t actually moving. However, all states follow the same general structure for the rule. You can be convicted if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is over 0.08%. The only exception is Utah, where the BAC is 0.0.5%.

In some states, this rule applies only to roads that are open to the public. Each state also defines impairment in different ways, but the general idea is that the court believes the driver did not have the awareness required to operate a vehicle and could have caused grave damage as a result.

When can your license be suspended?

Driving is a privilege, not a right, so several cases can result in a suspended license. A driver’s license suspension is a limited period during which you cannot drive and will be charged with an offense if you do so.

A suspension is less severe than a revocation of your driver’s license, although similar circumstances could lead to either a suspension or a revocation.

Commonly, drivers can have their licenses suspended for driving violations such as:

  • Drunk driving
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Reckless driving
  • Road rage
  • Exceeding the points allocated under the driver’s license point system

A driver’s license can also be suspended for non-driving violations, such as failure to pay child support or failure to appear in court for a traffic violation.

Life after a suspended license

A suspended driving license can impact different people in different ways.

It may prevent people from applying for jobs that list a driving license as a must-have requirement. The impact can be pretty devastating if the accused was in a driving-related job. Potential employers may blacklist candidates accused of DWI as well.

Additionally, losing the right to drive means the accused has to rely on other means of transportation. This can either be a ridesharing service, public transportation, or a friend/family member.

The latter can have emotional effects. The accused may feel a sense of shame when they have to rely on someone else to offer them a ride. This overdependence may lead to guilt as well.

Penalties for DWI

DWI convictions typically result in jail time, fines, and a suspended license. Some states consider prior offenses within a 5- to 10-year period, while others have a lifetime “lookback period.”

A lifetime lookback period means all previous DWI convictions will be considered while sentencing the defendant for his current offense.

Fines vary between $1,000 and $2,500. Jail time is between 48 hours and one year. Your license can be suspended for 90 days to one year. Depending on the case, the judge may not award jail time.

Underage drivers face less severe charges compared to adults. Those under 18 typically don’t face jail time.

Probation for DWI

Typically, those convicted of a DWI are expected to undergo a period of probation, during which they may have to undergo substance abuse treatment. Once they meet all requirements, their license may be reinstated.

The driver convicted of DWI may be asked to attend a victim impact panel to understand the consequences of drunk driving.

In most states, if a DWI results in death or injury, it can be charged as a felony as opposed to the usual misdemeanor. Aggravated cases may require an ignition interlocking device that prevents the defendant from driving under the influence.

Defending yourself

Commonly, the prosecution tries to prove that the driver was drunk. A couple of defenses can be employed to invalidate this claim.

  • Claiming the officer had no right to arrest the defendant: A police officer must have adequate reason to pull you over. If there was no evidence of improper driving, and the driver was pulled over due to unethical reasons, like racial profiling, the case could be tossed.
  • Other medical impairments: This is applicable if you have a medical condition that makes you unfocused. You can use medical bills and testimonies from your doctor to prove that you have an impairment that prevents you from driving well.

Conclusion

Having your license suspended can be pretty inconvenient. If you find yourself in such a situation, hire a lawyer so that your case is duly processed under the law. DWI laws vary from state to state and can result in a lifetime record. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is never acceptable. Be responsible and hire a cab if you’re incapable of driving!