DWI Consequence Myths

Part of the problem with combating drunk driving is separating fact from fiction in the consequences and penalties and of these, the myths about the effect of a DWI conviction on your driving record is the most important.

A common belief is that one’s driving becomes “clean” 3 or more years after a conviction provided that no further traffic violations take place, depending on one’s state of residence. The actual fact is that a traffic conviction stays on your driving record for life and all of the information on your driving record remains a part of your permanent record. What probably gives rise to this myth is the fact that the law restricts how some parts of your driving record may be used by others. For example, a traffic violation older than 3 may not affect your insurance rates any longer. But if you have a subsequent DWI violation, it could affect your record for 5 years more.

Another myth is that a repeat offense can be worked off through the courts and a payment of fines. In many states, the fact is that a 2nd DUI will cause your driving privileges to be taken away for at least a full year with your vehicle seized, forfeited and sold off by the state who will keep the money. That means you go a full year at least without being able to drive to work or school.

Yet another myth has to do with commercial driver’s licenses. Many believe that these are treated at par with private, non commercial driver’s licenses but this is not the case. A commercial driver’s license can be suspended for life in many states for refusing to take a test under an implied consent law, being convicted for a DWI or leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury or failing to give information and aid. Moreover, having a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.04% or more–as compared to 0.08% or more for non-commercial vehicles–is enough for a DWI conviction.

One more important misunderstanding is about the consequences of a conviction with a motor vehicle that is used in the commission of a crime. When someone is convicted of a serious offense like aggravated assault, possession of illegal drugs or attempting to flee from a police officer while using a motor vehicle, the offender’s driver’s license can be revoked.

Finally, many people underestimate the penalties of driving while their license is suspended or revoked–the penalties can be imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of up to $500, added years on driver’s license revocation or suspension and added conviction points on a driving record. One of the worst things a convicted person can do is drive while his license is suspended or revoked.