Would Jail Time For First Time DUI Offenders Act As A Deterrent For Future Offenses?

In Michigan drivers face a mandatory driver license suspension of six months for a first time conviction of drunk or drugged driving. Although it is possible for a first time offender to get jail time, it is not likely. However, a one year mandatory driver license suspension is imposed upon a first time offender of a “High BAC” crime. This is a situation where the driver had a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher. There is a driver license reinstatement fee of $125 for a suspension and a Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000 for two consecutive years a driving while intoxicated conviction.

Drivers who get a second DUI face jail time and a mandatory lifetime suspension of their driver’s license, which is subject to appeal. DUI becomes a felony when:

  • There is a third, fourth or fifth DUI conviction
  • There is a DUI conviction that caused a death
  • There is a DUI conviction that caused serious personal injuries to others

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, intoxicated drivers with previous DUI convictions are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than an intoxicated driver who had no prior DUIs. Furthermore, one third of all those arrested for DUI are repeat offenders and one out of eight intoxicated drivers involved in fatal accidents had at least one DUI conviction in the previous three years. Unfortunately, the probability of a fatal accident is directly proportionate to the number of previous DUI arrests.

The serious nature of driving under the influence is beyond debate. However, there is a litany of opinions relating to the pros and cons of jail time for first time DUI offenders as a deterrent to future offenses. And, the debate goes on. Many feel that incarceration will cause individuals to more seriously consider getting behind the wheel after drinking because of fear of going to jail, the stigma attached, the humiliation and potential effect on employment. Others argue that social drinking and a momentary lapse in judgment should not be sufficient cause for an individual to go to jail for a first time DUI arrest.

The question is, “would mandatory jail time for first time DUI offenders serve to deter driving under the influence in the future?” As is the case in most situations voicing the pros and cons of any debated topic, there is basically a 50/50 split on whether jail time would act as a deterrent. I believe that it won’t.

As an experienced criminal attorney in Michigan, I have seen situations time and again where people have gotten behind the wheel to drive after having had too much to drink. Many are repeat offenders. They know full well that they are impaired, but they do it anyway, without considering the consequences. Why should we believe that mandatory jail time for first offenders would act to deter them in the future?

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, the consequences can be as harsh as time in prison for repeat offenders. Scott Weinberg is a seasoned criminal attorney who has represented Michigan residents with DUIs and other matters for the last 25 years. Not only has he had his own show, “Weinberg On The Law,” he also served as an expert commentator on Court TV and CBS Radio.

Please contact us to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case and the options available to you.

Other Resources:

SOS – Substance Abuse and Driving

NHTSA Impaired Driving