Factors Affecting DUI Sentencing

Posted on: 31 May 2019

Although DUI (driving under the influence) sentences vary across different states, the factors that determine the severity of the sentences are more or less the same. Here are some of the factors that determine your sentencing if convicted of DUI.


Alcohol impairs judgment, reduces reaction time, and even makes some people drowsy. The more alcohol in your blood, the more your driving will be affected. The volume of alcohol in your system is referred to as your blood alcohol content. A high BAC leads to higher risks behind the wheel, so it attracts harsher penalties.  Thus, a BAC of 0.2 will attract harsher penalties than a BAC of 0.1.

Criminal History

Criminal sentences serve various purposes, but they are mostly meant to discourage people from committing a crime. Thus, if you have a criminal history, you might get a harsher sentence in any subsequent criminal sentencing. The rationale is that you need a harsher sentence than your previous sentences since the previous ones didn't seem to work. Thus, subsequent DUIs attract harsher sentences than first-time DUIs.

Damages and Injuries

A DUI is a crime even if it doesn't lead to an accident. However, a DUI that does lead to an accident is even more serious, especially if the DUI accident ends in serious damages or injuries to the victims of the accidents. The higher the losses of the accident victims, the harsher your sentences are likely to be. Thus, a DUI accident that causes a fatality is more serious than a DUI accident that ends in windshield damage to another car.

License and Insurance Standing

When stopped for a DUI, rest assured that the police will check your license and insurance standing. If you don't have insurance coverage or your license has been suspended, then the sentencing judge will factor that fact in your sentencing. A DUI with a suspended license or inadequate insurance coverage points to a blatant disregard of the law that leads to harsh punishment.

Nature of Passengers

Lastly, your DUI sentencing may also be harsh if you had vulnerable passengers at the time of your DUI. Vulnerable passengers include minors and mentally incapacitated adults. Such passengers may not have the knowledge or means to refuse a ride from an intoxicated driver. Thus, the onus is on the driver not to carry such passengers (or drive at all) when intoxicated.

If you are facing DUI charges, the law presumes you are innocent until proven guilty. Get a DUI defense attorney to help you defend the charges and ensure that your DUI sentencing isn't outrageous if you do get convicted.