A first-time DUI charge carries a range of penalties from fines to jail time to license suspension. First offenders do have more options to reduce their sentence, though, than subsequent offenders. In today’s blog, we will go over the standard penalties for a first DUI, as well as ways to mitigate the terms of a charge.
Penalties for a First DUI
In West Virginia, a first-time conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) is generally charged as a misdemeanor. A DUI is considered a first offense the state if the driver has no prior DUI convictions that occurred within the past 10 years. While judges have some discretion in deciding what an offender’s sentence should be, West Virginia does have minimum penalties in place that can’t be suspended or avoided through probation.
Convicted motorists will face a fine, possible jail time, and license suspension following a first DUI offense. The circumstances surrounding the DUI will greatly affect the outcome and severity of the sentence, though. In general, a person convicted of their first DUI typically face $100-$500 in fines, as well as court costs. The fine will increase to $200-$1,000 if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .15% or greater. As for jail time, a first-offense DUI can lead to a maximum of 6 months in jail, though if the driver had a BAC of .15% or greater, there is a minimum sentence of 2 days in jail.
One of the most notable consequences for a first DUI is the suspension of an individual’s driving privileges. Convicted individuals will incur a maximum 6-month license revocation. However, a driver may apply to participate in West Virginia’s “Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program,” where they will be able to avoid much of the revocation period by installing an ignition interlock device (IID). If accepted into the program, individuals will be subject to only a 15-day revocation period followed by 120 days with an IID. For program participants who had a BAC of .15% or greater, the revocation period increases to 45 days, followed by 270 days with an IID. Note that since the IID tests BAC, drivers whose DUI convictions involved drugs or other controlled substances are not eligible for the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program.
Be aware that like many states, West Virginia also operates under implied consent laws, which assume that all persons who drive in the state have consented to BAC testing, so drivers who refuse testing will be subject to tough penalties. The first time a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, their license will be revoked for 1 year. Participating in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program can reduce the revocation period to 45 days followed by a 1-year IID requirement.
Further, there are other circumstances that can result in penalties additional to the above sentencing. The penalties for an individual’s first DUI can be greatly increased if the driver had a minor (person under age 18) in the car, was a habitual drug user, or caused an injury accident or the death of another person, which could lead to vehicular homicide charges.
The penalties for a first DUI can be reduced or eliminated, though, through deferred prosecutions. For first-offense DUIs, the court can pause the proceedings to see if the driver can successfully complete the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program. Successful completion of the program’s 15-day revocation period, 120-day IID requirement, and DUI educational program can result in the DUI being completely dismissed. Note that deferred prosecution is available only to drivers who have never been previously arrested for DUI.
Questions? Contact The Wagner Law Firm
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence for the first time, you will still face a range of penalties. However, there are more relief options to lessen a charge for first offenders than multiple offenders. A good lawyer can help you apply for the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program and/or petition for deferred prosecution, which will lessen the amount of time your driving privileges may be suspended.
Speak with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer to determine next steps in your case. Schedule a free case evaluation with The Wagner Law Firm today!