Getting arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving is never pleasant, but it can be especially scary if you have never been in trouble with the law before. If you are facing a DUI charge for the first time, you should know the potential sentence the judge can give you if you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial.
Sentencing guidelines for a 1st DUI offense
Under Hawaii’s DUI statute, a conviction without a prior conviction in the prior 10 years results in the following punishments:
- Revocation of driver’s license for one year
- Requiring the defendant to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in their vehicle during the revocation period
- According to the judge’s discretion, two to five days in jail; 72 hours of community service; or a fine of $250-1,000
- Participation in a 14-hour substance abuse rehabilitation program
- Surcharges of up to $50
These sentencing guidelines are relatively light compared to those for a second or a “habitual offender” conviction. But a first-time DUI conviction can greatly disrupt your life. Having to go to jail for several days can be more than unpleasant. It can embarrass you and potentially cost you your job. So can losing your ability to drive and having to undergo rehab treatment.
A guilty plea isn’t always the best move
Keep in mind that just because the police arrested you does not mean you committed DUI and will be convicted. Mistakes by the arresting officer could have led to a wrongful arrest. Before pleading guilty just to “get the charges behind you,” you should know where you stand and what your best options are. The best way to do this is to discuss your case with a defense attorney and find out what they can do to help you.