Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have significant consequences for both the driver and other people on the road. South Dakota takes this offense very seriously, and the state has some of the strictest penalties for drunk driving in the nation.
If you’re facing drunk driving charges, understanding the potential penalties can help you better evaluate your legal options. Here’s what you should know:
What are the potential penalties for a first-time DUI?
If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI in this state, you could face a maximum of a year in the county jail plus a $2,000 fine. You can also lose your driver’s license for up to a year. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.17 or higher upon your arrest, however, you may also have to pay for and undergo an evaluation by an addiction counselor to see if you suffer from a chemical dependency.
What’s actually likely to happen during sentencing?
What’s listed above is, naturally, the worst-case scenario. Generally speaking, a first-time offender will likely receive a suspended sentence of 30-45 days in jail (which may have to be served if you get into trouble for drunk driving again within a year), and you’ll have to pay court costs, a fine and fees associated with your blood alcohol testing. You can also expect to lose your driver’s license for a minimum of 30 days, although a work permit can be granted.
In addition to the penalties listed above, however, a DUI conviction can also have other consequences. For example, your conviction will appear on your criminal record, which can impact your employment opportunities and housing options. You may also be required to obtain expensive high-risk auto insurance. If your DUI resulted in property damage, injuries or death, you will likely also face civil lawsuits in addition to the criminal charges.
Subsequent drunk driving convictions are treated even more harshly. A second offense, for example, generally results in at least some jail time, along with higher fines. Obtaining a work permit may also be more difficult and require treatment for chemical dependency.
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, seeking experienced legal guidance can help you navigate the legal system and work to minimize the penalties you face. Remember, it is always best to avoid drinking and driving altogether – but you shouldn’t let a single mistake take over your life either.