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Feb 07


Learn about the most commonly asked DUI questions.

What is a DUI?

DUI stands for "driving under the influence" and refers to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired (If you are unsure of your level of impairment, please use our BAC Calculator. Depending on the state you are in, DUI may be stylized as DWI, which stands for "driving while intoxicated." In states where both acronyms are used, the DUI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol while the DWI refers to driving under the influence of any other intoxicant.

What are the penalties for a DUI?

The penalty for a DUI is determined by state. You may face fines, imprisonment, loss of the driving privilege and permanent marks on your record. You may face stiffer penalties depending on the discretion of the court, including installation of an ignition interlock device on your car. There may be minimum penalties depending on the state, the number and frequency of the offense and the level of intoxication of the driver.

How much does a DUI cost?

Regardless of state, DUI penalties are made to be an invasive punishment. Not only do you face punitive fines and administrative fees from the court, but you must also pay for a lawyer to represent you in court. There is also the potential cost of lost wages. Drivers who lose the driving privilege may not be able to transport themselves to work, and may end up losing the job. There are social costs as well. People with a DUI on record may not be able to get a new job, especially those DUIs marked as misdemeanors.

Can you get a DUI on a bicycle / bike?

Yes, you can. A bike DUI may be treated the same as a DUI involving a motor vehicle. However, some states have penalties that refer specifically to DUIs on bicycles. In some states, it is also illegal to be "in charge" of a bicycle while drunk, meaning that you cannot even walk a bike down the street while intoxicated.

How long does a DUI stay on your record?

Again, this is up to the discretion of the state. However, seven years is the general average for most states. California recently voted to raise the time on your record to 10 years. If the DUI is considered a criminal offense, it may stay on your record forever.

How long does a DUI stay on your insurance?

Insurance companies are completely different entities from the state, meaning that they make their own decisions about how long DUIs stay on your record. In most cases, a first offense DUI will stay on an insurance record for three years. After that, the driver will see a more normal insurance rate. The amount of time that a DUI stays on the insurance record goes up for subsequent offenses in most cases. In this way, insurance companies keep records in a way that is similar to state records.