With a crime as serious as driving under the influence, you may be wondering how harsh the penalties can be for first time offenders. The truth is that the laws vary from state to state, with there being a possibility of jail time in some situations. By understanding what factors determine the requirement of jail time, you will be well prepared for the potential consequences.
You must be aware of what the laws are in your state. These laws will ultimately form the base of what a first time offender penalty could be.
Blood Alcohol Level
Depending on how much you've been drinking, your punishment could be more severe. Ohio has laws regarding blood alcohol concentration levels at the time of your arrest. BAC levels between .08-.17% have minimum jail sentences of 3 days, with anything above .17 requiring at least 6 days in jail. Maximum jail sentences for first time offenders in Ohio can be as long as 6 months.
A conviction will also impact any future punishments for DUI related charges.
Your blood alcohol level is not the only thing that can determine your punishment, as a judge will also look at additional aggravating factors. Things such as how fast you were driving at the time, and if you were putting other people at risk that were in your vehicle.
Punishments are harsher if you had minors in the car as well, and could turn your DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony. This will mean a harsher punishment that will stay on your criminal record for a long time, potentially affecting where you can work or live.
Bargain With The Judge
You will want to have a good lawyer on your side to help bargain with the judge if you are convicted. You can have a jail sentence minimized in exchange for doing community service. First time offenders may be required to serve anywhere between 24 and 100 hours in exchange for a reduced sentence.
In Ohio, you may be able to participate in their Alcohol Intervention Program instead of serving the mandatory jail time.
If you are worried about the consequences you may face from a DUI conviction, always work with a lawyer to help minimize the potential punishment and avoid jail. For more information about your options in a DUI case, contact a company like Hornthal Riley Ellis & Maland LLP.