OWI is an abbreviation for operating while intoxicated, alluding to a legal charge for drunk driving. Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated is a class C misdemeanor. The components of the offense are (1) operating (2) a vehicle (3) while intoxicated, which is characterized as the impairment of mental and physical faculties by drugs, alcohol, or a mix of the two.
This offense can be upgraded to the class A misdemeanor of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, Endangering an individual, by the extra component of operating the vehicle in such a way as to jeopardize an individual. The danger component is general, in light of the way of vehicular operation.
OWI is a stern offense carrying punishments that are expanding in seriousness across the nation, as states keep on attempting to decrease the quantity of deaths and injuries on the highways. An OWI conviction for drunk driving will cost you a huge measure of money, instantly and in the long haul. It can likewise cost you indirectly since it might limit the jobs you can get with an OWI conviction on your record.
OWI Sentencing: Criminal and Administrative Penalties
After an individual is convicted or pleads guilty to an OWI offense, the right legal punishment is determined at the sentencing stage. Several types of punishments may be imposed on an individual convicted of OWI, including:
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license: Many states suspend OWI first-time offenders’ drunk driver’s license. The length of a license suspension or revocation differs broadly by jurisdiction, as well as by the nature of the offense.
- Vehicle Impoundment: In some states, the law authorizes the impoundment of vehicles in cases involving repeat OWI offenders.
- Incarceration in Jail (shorter-term): Numerous states punish first time offenders severely. First-time offenders in some other states may get shorter stints in jail.
- Incarceration in Prison (longer-term): OWI offenders who have caused death or injury to another, repeat OWI offenders, and those convicted of aggravated OWI may be faced with harsh prison sentences.
- Use of vehicle ignition interlock devices (IIDS): Drunk driving laws in several states authorize or necessitate the use of vehicle ignition interlock devices following an OWI offense.
- SCRAM Bracelets: SCRAM bracelets are alcohol monitoring ankle bracelets that might be allowed as a penalty or as a condition of probation by some jurisdictions.
- Probation: Probation is a set period of time where the defendant has definite restrictions and requirements like community service and a restricted license.
- Drug/alcohol education and/or rehabilitation: In some states, the completion of drug and/or alcohol education programs or coursework are allowed before an OWI offender’s driving privileges can be re-established.
- Community service: A range of community services can be imposed on OWI offenders.
- Suspended sentences: When conditions of probation are violated, suspended sentences can take effect.
OWI Penalty Enhancements
Regardless of whether you are charged of your first OWI or your second, drunk driving charges have a wide scope of potential punishments, including prison time, huge fines, and license suspension or revocation. To figure out what your probable OWI penalties might be, the prosecuting lawyer and Judge will take a look at the OWI Sentencing Guidelines. OWI Sentencing Guidelines serve as a reference point for the prosecutor to utilize while deciding punishments in an OWI Case. While sentencing guidelines offer a “beginning stage,” there are numerous components that might be thought about while deciding and negotiating the best possible penalty for an OWI charge.
Mitigating or Helping Factors
Mitigating factors work well in anyone’s favor for sentencing. These factors incorporate an individual’s participation and conduct toward the arresting officer, an excellent driving record, “great” driving amid the present conviction, a low blood alcohol concentration, and a proactive way to deal with looking for Alcohol Counseling. Adopting a proactive strategy to seeking treatment before sentencing will show the court that you are taking the OWI charge and legal procedure seriously. In the event that an individual has an earlier arrest, they may be important to the current sentencing if the prior arrest happened so many years back.
Aggravated vs. not aggravated
There are a few elements determining what classifies an OWI as aggravated or not aggravated. On the off chance a person is driving without a license, this could promote the OWI to the status of being aggravated. If there was an injury of any kind involving OWI, the charge could then become aggravated. All fines, jail time, and other revocations are doubled when an individual younger than16 is in the vehicle at the time of the offense. On the off chance that the OWI charge is a repeat offense, the current OWI might end up turning into an aggravated offense.
Aggravating factors can possibly impact an OWI sentencing negatively. Some of these factors include high blood alcohol concentration, driving poorly during the current conviction, refusal to take a blood or breath test, operating without a valid driver’s license, whether an accident occurred, someone was injured, or if there was a young person (below 16) in the vehicle. Failure to seek counseling or alcohol related assessments and failure to attend a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) prior to sentencing may also affect sentencing.
The crucial factor everyone must understand is that keeping mute after you have been charged with an OWI will harshly impact possible penalties you face and your career.
Factors That Influence OWI Sentencing
Sentencing normally happens very quickly after an OWI conviction, with the sentencing judge getting input from the prosecutor and the defense sometimes. The sentencing judge will look at penalties and sentencing extents recognized in applicable Vehicle or Penal Code statutes, as well as various factors, including:
- Impact of the OWI on any victims (if death or injuries occurred)
- Defendant’s OWI record and criminal history
- Regret or remorse expressed by the defendant
- Defendant’s social, personal and economic circumstances
Hiring an OWI Defense Attorney
It is vital to hire a seasoned OWI Defense Attorney. If you have been charged with an OWI offense, it is never too late to hire a lawyer to protect you.
Various factors go into the sentencing stage of an OWI case, including the BAC level and police procedures resulting to the arrest. Legal experts can advocate for your sake by challenging evidence and negotiating with the prosecution (when proper). Ensure your rights are protected by having your OWI case examined by an OWI lawyer.
Being convicted of an OWI charge will prompt an assortment of punishments and sentences, ranging from license suspension to imprisonment. Be that as it may, it’s imperative to remember that the criminal sanctions against the driver are completely independent from those taken at the administrative level. For example, declining to submit to a BAC test will result in the instant suspension of your driver’s license in most cases, regardless of whether real impairment isn’t affirmatively established.
As with any criminal charge, the State bears the weight of demonstrating the charge against you. As a result of an expanded political and public intolerance towards the individuals who drink and drive, defending an OWI charge has turned out to be progressively convoluted, and the penalties upon conviction have turned out to be increasingly severe.