What are Your Choices? What to do After Getting Your First DUI
Drinking and driving costs Americans more than $44 billion dollars a year, or $500 per adult American every year. In 2014, more than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of something.
There are lots of ways to avoid a DUI conviction even if you were over the legal alcohol limit. You can see examples of many of the best DUI attorney defense strategies in this DUI defense guide.
If you’ve just had your first DUI, know you are not alone, and that this is not the end of the world. Find out what to do after you’ve gotten your first DUI, and take control of the situation immediately.
Consequences of Your First DUI
Once someone is arrested or charged with a DUI, there are a number of steps encountered in the legal system. Every state is different when it comes to those steps, and every case is different as well.
But generally speaking, the first DUI starts with a police officer pulling someone over for any reason at all. It could be that the officer believes the driver is on the road erratically. But a DUI can also be the result of a standard traffic stop for anything from not having the right tags on your car, to a broken tail light or seat belt oversight.
In many cases, a roadside sobriety test will ensue, and the driver is often asked to take a Breathalyzer. You have the right to refuse this, but upon this refusal, you may also immediately have your license suspended and face a DUI charge right away.
The officer may say something like, “You can do it now or at the station, it is entirely up to you.”
In many cases, a DUI charge will lead to some jail time at first. This will entirely depend on the situation, how intoxicated the officer believes the driver is, and also in many cases, the willingness of the driver to cooperate with the police.
A first DUI an officer may be more lenient if the laws in the state allow for that, but that is not likely to be the case for consequent DUIs.
In addition to possible jail time, fines, a lengthy legal battle, and car insurance rate spikes are other consequences to a DUI. As well, you may lose your car, and have your license suspended.
Your First DUI Is Not the End of the World
It is never a good day to be charged with a criminal offense. But at the same time, it may feel like the end, but your world won’t come crashing down if the offense is a standard DUI.
In most states, a first DUI is a misdemeanor. This aspect would change if there are other problems involved in the case such as drug possession, theft of vehicles, or an accident that causes bodily harm or death.
Even so, in states like Texas, multiple DUIs could mean between two and 10 years jail time. So it’s a misdemeanor you need to take seriously.
Additionally, if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is excessively high, some states do consider that a felony.
If you are not released right away, you are booked and have your mugshot taken, and your fingerprints taken as well. You may have to stay in jail until you are sober, or in some states, a minimum number of hours.
You will also likely have your blood drawn or take a Breathalyzer if you have not already done so.
An arraignment or hearing will take place then that will determine your bail and next steps. A DMV hearing is likely to take place, and if you don’t request one, you are likely to experience an immediate suspension of your license.
Although it may be just a misdemeanor charge, the charge will stay on your record. This could lead to job problems, or even more serious consequences if you are charged with other substance-related crimes in the future.
It is not going to be the end of your world. But it is a serious problem still, and taking charge of the situation early will help you to take back control of your life so that it is not determined by the system.
You Can Get Your Driver’s License Back
When you are charged with a DUI, you should expect to lose your license, at least temporarily. For some states that is mandatory, and you could lose your license for up to two years or even more, depending on the individual case.
But in many states, you are given a temporary license by the police officer in question until your DMV hearing or criminal justice hearing is resolved. These are all questions you can ask at the time of the charge, and law enforcement will spell it out for you clearly as well.
But generally speaking, the most common form of getting your driver’s license back is a show of good faith to the system that you will not make the mistake again. This includes a form of therapy or treatment course.
Most individuals can search for “DUI classes near me” to find the kind of program that your state will accept. If you have a lawyer, your DUI lawyer will also know exactly what classes or education program will produce the best result for your situation.
It’s possible that you may retain some driving privileges for hardship purposes, such as to access work or your children’s school. Some states require an Ignition Interlock Device installed on your vehicle.
This device will keep you from starting your vehicle if your BAC is high. Some states have bracelet monitoring as well that monitors alcohol level in your sweat.
You Are Not Alone
In the year 2013, more than 28 million people admitted to driving while under the influence of something. That is about the same number of people that currently live in Texas.
If it happens to you, it can feel like the end of the world, and it can feel like an extremely isolating experience. But it doesn’t have to be.
Get help and support with your first DUI with a lawyer. Discover the top 5 reasons to hire a DWI lawyer and immediately start feeling better about how to get your life back on track.