What Factors Affect DUI Sentencing?

Lori Smith

When a person is found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI), the judge assigned to his case generally decides the DUI sentencing that is most appropriate under the circumstances. The punishment an individual receives for this crime is based on many factors, which usually differ among jurisdictions. The blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest and the results of a field sobriety test, for example, are frequently considered during DUI sentencing. Furthermore, harsher punishments may be imposed for people with prior DUI convictions or if a car accident occurred that resulted in the injury or death of another.

A person with past DUI convictions is more likely to occur stiffer penalties.
A person with past DUI convictions is more likely to occur stiffer penalties.

A person's past criminal and driving record is often scrutinized during DUI sentencing. If the defendant was convicted of a DUI or other alcohol-related crimes in the past, the judge may impose penalties that are more stringent. On the other hand, if the DUI was a first offense, the individual may be given more leniency.

Many police departments do regular campaigns to educate the public about drunk driving.
Many police departments do regular campaigns to educate the public about drunk driving.

One of the first things a judge may consider during DUI sentencing is the amount of alcohol that was in the defendant's system at the time of arrest. This is not necessarily measured by how many drinks he had because each person is affected differently by liquor consumption. Most jurisdictions give considerable weight to the level of alcohol concentration present in a person's blood to determine if he was legally drunk. The BAC can often be obtained at the scene of the traffic stop when the driver submits to a breathalyzer test. A blood test can also yield similar results.

The penalty for a DUI is likely to be much higher if the driver is involved in a car accident.
The penalty for a DUI is likely to be much higher if the driver is involved in a car accident.

If a person's BAC is over the legal limit established by a particular jurisdiction, he will likely be arrested for DUI. When the judge reviews the results of the BAC, he may consider the level of intoxication on the report when determining DUI sentencing. For example, if the concentration of alcohol was only slightly elevated, the judge might be more lenient than if it was significantly higher. He may also consider the arresting officer's testimony as it relates to a defendant's behavior at the time of the incident as well as the outcome of any field sobriety tests that were conducted.

Another important factor in DUI sentencing is whether or not the defendant was involved in a collision at the time he was legally drunk, regardless of whether or not another car was involved. For example, a person may have crashed into a tree or building and caused property damage. The judge can look at this type of incident as a clear sign of impairment and a threat to others on the road. If another vehicle was involved in the crash, then penalties can be even more severe, especially if the accident caused serious injury or death. In fact, in cases like this, the defendant may face more serious charges, such as DUI manslaughter, and punishments can be much more severe.

The duration of a pursuit by law enforcement can impact DUI sentencing.
The duration of a pursuit by law enforcement can impact DUI sentencing.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: