DUI Laws in Idaho
It can be a pain to have to deal with any Idaho traffic tickets, but the real difficulty comes when and if you’re convicted of a DUI. It’s harshly punished, and can affect many aspects of your life. You could face fines, dramatically higher insurance premiums, license suspension, and even jail time. Here’s the skinny on Idaho DUI laws, and what you can do about a citation if it happens to you.
What Constitutes a DUI in Idaho?
All Idaho traffic violations begin with the judgment of a law enforcement official. DUIs are no exception. If the police see a vehicle swerving, zig-zagging, or acting otherwise erratically, they’ll stop the car and talk to the driver. If their speech appears slurred or the officer smells alcohol on the breath, they may ask the driver to perform a few simple motor skills tests, like walking in a straight line. If suspicion mounts, the officer will administer a breathalyzer test.
Since Idaho has an implied consent law, all drivers must submit to drug or alcohol tests if ordered to do so by a law enforcement official. That doesn’t just mean a breathalyzer: it also means blood, urine, or hair samples, at the officer’s discretion. Failure to submit to testing can mean loss of license, along with the possibility of further legal action. If drug tests are positive for any substance known to impair judgment – including all street drugs and many prescription medications – or if Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is at or over 0.08%, the driver will be charged with a DUI.
If you’re under 21, the BAC need only be 0.02% to lead to a DUI charge, while a BAC (for anyone) of 0.20% or higher constitutes an aggravated DUI – which means an enhanced penalty.
What Happens If You Get a DUI in Idaho?
A DUI will certainly lead to an Idaho suspended license, even on the first offense. How long it will last depends on your driving record. If it’s the best possible scenario, you’ll face a 3-month license suspension with a conditional license issued after 20 days. A second or third offense could mean a year without a license of any kind.
More serious still, you’ll likely face at least some jail time – up to 6 months for a first offense, but without any minimum sentence. A second offense will mean at least 10 days in jail (with a maximum of a year), as well as participation in a work detail overseen by the county sheriff. A third DUI citation could land you in jail for as much as 5 years – and at least 1.
Idaho traffic fines are never higher than they are for a DUI. It can be up to $1,000 for a first offense, and up to $5,000 for a third. An alcohol treatment course may also be called for, as well as the installation of an ignition interlock device in your car that prevents it from operating without the driver first passing a breathalyzer test.
What Can You Do About a DUI in Idaho?
It’s important to engage a traffic attorney when involved in a DUI case. Plea bargaining can be quite complex, and the charge is serious enough that you’ll want to assure the best possible outcome. A good lawyer might be able to arrange that you plead to a lesser offense, like ‘wet reckless’, which is governed under the less punishable category of reckless driving.