We have probably all heard at one time about penalties a driver can be subject to if caught and convicted of drunk driving. But let's take another look at just what a driver can be up against here in Weirton when the police lights go on behind you and you are arrested for DUI.
Let's be clear: you don't face only the possibility of losing your driver's license, but you could also spend significant time in jail (up to 6 months for a first DUI), plus you face heavy fines and a criminal record that can hurt you in job interviews or in academic pursuits.
Let's say you have been arrested in Hancock County for drunken driving for a first time. What's the worst that can happen? If the DUI is deemed aggravated -- you have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.15 percent or above -- then you could face anywhere from two days to a half-year in jail.
Your fine could be up to $1,000. Plus, you will have your West Virginia driver's license revoked for 45 days, and when you get the license back, the state will require you to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. The cost and upkeep of the gadget is at your expense, of course.
Naturally, the penalties get stiffer for a second DUI (also known as DWI) offense. What's the worst that can happen? Well, jail time can be up to one year, the state says on its website, and the fine is now a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $3,000. And you can lose your driver's license for up to a year and be required to have an ignition interlock when you begin driving again.
When people add up the days in jail, the fines, the costs of an ignition interlock, and then factor in an inevitable big bump in auto insurance premiums for a DUI conviction, they often choose to enlist the aid of an experienced attorney to help them fight the charge. In many cases, the lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charge reduced or even dropped.