How Much Jail Time for a DUI Warrant

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If you’re caught driving under the influence (sometimes called driving while impaired/intoxicated), you’ll have to stand trial in court until they establish a verdict, just like any other offense.

Of course, if you fail to show up, you’ll earn yourself a warrant which police officers could fulfill at any time. Realistically, though, this means you’ll likely be arrested on your next encounter with the police, and your standing with the jury will be significantly worse than if you were to show up on time.

Nonetheless, the penalty for a DUI warrant varies greatly depending on several factors. So keep reading as we’ll explain jail times for DUI warrants, as well as other implications.

DUI Offenses Jail Times

Driving under the influence isn’t a straightforward crime with a set penalty for all offenders. DUI charges differ by factors such as first-time vs. repeat offenders, the level of intoxication, the intoxicating substances, aggravating circumstances, and more.

Jail time also varies greatly by state. In most of them, first-time DUI offenders face no more than six months in jail, while others don’t require a jail sentence at all.

On the other hand, repeat offenders can get several months or even more than a year of jail time, depending on state laws and offense frequency.

Jail Time Variations

Like many other crimes, DUI offenses come with a great variety of jail times, depending on your situation. For example, first-time offenders are treated much more leniently, while repeat offenders are given harsher penalties.

And then there’s how intoxicated the offender is. If you’ve had a couple of beers before driving, you’re better off than someone who’s been doing hard liquor and drugs. And, of course, doing illegal substances can carry another charge, so the intoxicants also affect your jail time.

Lastly, there are also aggravating circumstances. Again, these could turn DUI charges, which are typically misdemeanors, into felonies.

First-Time vs. Repeat Offenders

In all states, first-time DUI offenses are either misdemeanors or traffic offenses and are thus treated lightly. Unsurprisingly, penalties differ greatly depending on the state.

For instance, states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wisconsin don’t have a minimum jail time for these cases, so you’ll likely be off with a fine and possibly a license suspension or ignition interlock device.

And while most states won’t put you away for more than six months, some will give you up to a year in jail or some mandatory community service.

As for repeat offenders, jail times vary even more. Most states consider second offenses as misdemeanors. But in some states, like Connecticut and Oklahoma, second and subsequent DUI offenses are felonies.

In short, the more you offend, the more jail time you’ll get, and the more likely the offense is to be felonious.

Level of Intoxication

Most states treat all levels of intoxication similarly, but will only charge you if your blood alcohol content is above the legal threshold.

But some states have a “tiering” system with more severe penalties for drivers who are more intoxicated or refuse to take an intoxication test.

For example, Pennsylvania has three tiers for drunk drivers with different thresholds for each. Tier 1 is between 0.08 and <0.1, 2 is between 0.1 and <1.6, and 3 is >1.6.

Intoxicating Substances

Driving under the influence isn’t exclusive to alcohol. Some people drive under the influence of substances like morphine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, or other drugs. Generally, drug-related DUI warrants will often result in more severe sentences.

Aggravating Circumstances

Many factors can turn a (relatively) petty DUI warrant into a more serious charge with a lengthier jail time.

We’ve already mentioned repeat offenses and levels of intoxication. But there are more serious consequences if an intoxicated driver gets into an accident that injures or kills another person or damages another vehicle or property.

Fines for a DUI Offense

DUi warrants almost always come at a price. But just like jail times, fines vary greatly from one state to another, typically in the $500-$2,000 range.

Some states, like Arkansas and Hawaii, have DUI fines as low as $100-$150. Others, like Indiana and Oregon, can hit the $5,000 mark.

Other Implications

DUI charges aren’t often as simple as paying a fine and serving a few weeks behind bars. There can be other consequences, which we’ll discuss here.

License Suspension

License suspensions are frequently used as an alternative or addition to jail times following a DUI warrant. And just like sentences, the suspension duration increases the more severe your offense is.

Most states have a minimum license suspension between a few months to a year. Pennsylvania is the only exception.

Nonetheless, you can obtain a hardship license through the court if your work or school requires driving.

Vehicle Impounding

States harsher on DUI sometimes take more drastic measures to ensure repeat offenders don’t go back to driving under the influence by impounding their vehicle or seizing it.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition interlock devices, or IIDs, are small breathalyzer tests that police can tie to your ignition to ensure you can’t turn it on while intoxicated. The engine won’t turn unless you breathe into the tube with an acceptable BAC.


Insurance companies don’t take kindly to vehicular offenses like DUI. So they may cancel your insurance or increase your rate if you’re convicted.


A DUI warrant is relatively petty if the offender doesn’t have a history of DUI charges and hasn’t accumulated any aggravating circumstances, such as getting into an accident while impaired.

Unsurprisingly, though, the more impaired you are or the more trouble you get in while driving under the influence, the harsher your penalty will be.

The best action is to go to court or hire an attorney on your behalf because your warrant won’t disappear if you ignore it.