Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the leading causes of road accidents and fatalities in the United States. This behavior risks not only the life of the offender but other road users, as well.
This is why there are strict laws to control drunk driving. A DUI is a criminal offense and can have some long-term effects on a person’s life. This is why it is crucial to hire a good DUI defense attorney to help you fully understand the penalties you might face, and help you fight the charges. A DUI charge can also take a toll on your mental health, job, social life, and relationship.
Getting Arrested for DUI
If the police suspect that you are driving while intoxicated, they will immediately conduct tests to confirm your intoxication. If they find that you’re actually intoxicated, they will arrest you, place you in their vehicle, and take you to the nearest police station or jail. While there, you will be booked and given a chance to either call your family or an attorney.
In some states, you can be released as soon as you can post bail. However, some states make jail terms mandatory even for first-time DUI offenders. Other states charge first-time DUI offenders with a misdemeanor, and they can get lesser penalties without jail time. Repeat offenders, on the other hand, can get tougher penalties, including mandatory jail time.
Note that if there are any aggravating factors in your DUI case, the court can increase your penalties whether you are a first-time or a repeat offender.
Appearing in Court
The police will give you a ticket or summons that will advise you on when you should appear in court to face the charges. After reviewing your case, your lawyer will advise you whether to plead guilty. Every state has different DUI laws, and, if found guilty, here are some of the penalties that you can expect:
The fine that you may have to pay will depend on your state. Generally, if you are a first-time offender, you can expect to pay up to $1,800 in fines. Though all states have a minimum and maximum fee for all DUI charges, the amount you pay can also go higher if there are any aggravating factors.
Losing Your Driver’s License
As part of your conviction, you will lose your driver’s license even if you are a first-time offender. Some states can revoke your license immediately after you are arrested. It is important to know your state’s laws on the suspension of a license and the terms that come with it.
Jail terms for DUI offenders, including first-time offenders, are becoming mandatory in several states. You might face a minimum of 6 months in jail or more, depending on your state and any aggravating factors.
Undergoing Alcohol Evaluation
To get your driving privileges restored after conviction, the court will require you to undergo evaluation. The courts will assign you a trained counselor who will evaluate your drinking habits to determine if you have an alcohol abuse disorder. If you have an alcohol problem, you will attend a court-approved treatment program.
Other penalties that you can expect include the following:
- Higher auto insurance premiums
- Having an ignition interlock device installed
Hire a DUI Defense Attorney
DUI charges are very serious. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can so that they can advise you on what to do and get you the best possible results. An experienced attorney will inform you of your state’s DUI laws and the implications that a conviction will have on you. They will also advise you if you should plead guilty or not and what to expect with each plea.