First Offense and Tiers
For a first offense DWI, there are two tiers in which a defendant may be prosecuted.
A "Tier 1" offense happens where (1) the reading is less than 0.10 percent BAC (breath or blood alcohol content), (2) there is no breath test reading due to refusal or (3) an attorney can successfully argue that the breath or blood test reading is unreliable and should not be used as evidence against the defendant. In these situations, the state will seek to prove that you were operating a vehicle under the influence based on an "observation" case.
Even when there are no breath or blood test results, a conviction can be obtained on a DWI based on an officer's assertion that the driver appears intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a defendant is placed in the Tier 1 category, he or she will have a three-month license suspension, fines, penalties and surcharges.
Tier 2 offenses are based on breath or blood alcohol readings of 0.10 percent or greater. A Tier 2 charge means that the offender will have a seven to 12 month license suspension, fines, penalties and surcharges.