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DUI offenders face stiff penalties

POSTED December 28, 2010 10:10 p.m.

Drunk or high drivers charged with Driving Under the Influence face steep, state-mandated penalties – even for first-time offenders.

According to the Stanislaus County Superior Court, a first-time DUI offender with a comparatively low blood alcohol content level will likely face three years of probation and 48 hours in jail. That jail time can sometimes be served through the Alternative Work Program.

A fine of approximately $2,000 is assessed, and violators must attend a six-month course on the dangers of drinking and driving at additional cost. All told, a DUI costs approximately $3,000 to $4,000, not including higher insurance costs.

DUI offenders also have their driver’s licenses restricted, usually allowing driving only to and from work and DUI classes, and in cases of medical emergency. Drivers can appeal to the DMV for different restricted driving terms.

The penalties only become harsher for DUI offenders whose cases include enhanced violations. If drivers have a child in the car, a higher-than-average BAC, or cause an accident, fines and jail time increase drastically.

Repeat offenders also face stricter punishments, including 10 or more days in jail, a much longer anti-drinking course, and an automatic suspension – rather than a restriction – of driver’s licenses. Ignition interlock devices can be added as a penalty upon District Attorney request and judge approval, and are often handed out to those with more than two DUIs or exceedingly high BAC levels.

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