Many different circumstances could lead to someone facing impaired driving charges. Getting behind the wheel after too many drinks or driving after using illegal drugs or certain legally prescribed medications could impact someone’s driving, leading officers to stop their vehicle and suspect impairment.

If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher or if they test positive for the presence of certain drugs, they will likely face operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges. Many people facing first-time criminal charges will jump at the opportunity to plead guilty and move on with their lives, However, that knee-jerk reaction could be a mistake. You could wind up facing substantial penalties for a first-time OWI.

Many people assume that a judge will be lenient during sentencing if they plead guilty and save the court time by avoiding a trial. However, much of what happens in an OWI case will depend on what the judge decides. They could offer you lenient penalties or order the maximum penalties possible under the law.

If you plead guilty or get convicted, you will pay court costs that will likely exceed $300 as well as a fine of as much as $5,000. You could wind up incarcerated for up to a year, after which you may not be able to regain your license for two more years. In some cases, individuals have to participate in victim impact panels or substance abuse education.

After incarceration or instead of jail time, individuals can also wind up subject to probation, which can include urine testing. By seeking legal guidance when facing a criminal charge instead of pleading guilty, you may be able to avoid the potential penalties and the criminal record that would come with a guilty plea.