15th Dec 2016
Although many individuals are aware of the criminal penalties that may be incurred as the result of a Driving While Impaired (DWI) conviction, most individuals are unaware of the significant civil repercussions which can also follow a DWI conviction. As with criminal penalties, the civil penalties associated with a DWI conviction increase with the level and/or number of DWI offenses. By way of example, following an individual’s first conviction for a misdemeanor DWI offense, an individual’s driver’s license and driving privileges are typically suspended for at least 90 days. However, a second or third DWI conviction will oftentimes result in an individual’s driver’s license and driving privileges being suspended for between one and three years. Although an individual may be able to obtain restricted driving privileges through the use of an ignition interlock device, both the application and installation for such a device can be expensive.
Notwithstanding the suspension of an individual’s driving privileges, it is also possible for an individual’s vehicle to be forfeited if the individual is convicted of a second or third DWI offense. Once again, the process needed to avoided forfeiture can be costly.
Lastly, a second or third DWI conviction may also result in the license plates for an individual’s vehicle being impoundment. When an individual’s license plates are impounded, the individual is typically required to apply for specialized license plates, which are commonly referred to as “whiskey plates.”
It is therefore important for individuals charged with a DWI to recognize that there are significant consequences, outside of criminal penalties, which may be imposed following a DWI offense. In order to avoid such civil penalties (driver’s license suspension, vehicle forfeiture, or license plate impoundment), individuals charged with a DWI offense must bring a petition or complaint within 30 days (for driver’s license suspension and license plate impoundment) or 60 days (for vehicle forfeiture). If a petition or complaint is not filed, these civil penalties may be automatically enforced.