Things That Will Happen After Your First DUI, and How to Prepare
Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and prescription or over-the-counter drugs is never a good idea. Not only do drivers put their own lives at risk, but also those of fellow drivers and pedestrians. A DUI arrest doesn’t always have to involve a car or truck. You can be charged while driving vehicles like golf carts, bicycles, ATVs, etc. If you are stopped and given a sobriety test which results in a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.
Things that Will Happen After Your First DUI
If authorities decide to charge you with a DUI, you will be arrested, placed in their vehicle, and taken to the nearest police station or jail. Once there, your mug shot will be taken and you will be fingerprinted. States vary on what can happen next – either you will be released if someone can pay your bail and drive you home, or you will be held until you have sobered up.
The next step will be to appear in court to address the charges. Many defendants hire an attorney work on their behalf from this point forward. You can either plead guilty or not guilty. It is not uncommon for the prosecution to use video from the officer’s dashboard camera showing your failed sobriety test.
First time offenders in all states can expect their driver’s license to be suspended for a period of time – the duration varies by state. While some states offer a hardship license that allows driving to work or school, you can still expect severe limitations such as being required to drive with an ignition interlock device.
If you are convicted of the charges, part of your punishment will include paying a fine. All states have certain minimum and maximum amounts for drunk driving. Those penalties can also include any damages you caused to private property or if any individuals were endangered as a result of behavior. Additionally, most places will require that you pay the court costs associated with your case.
Jail time may be mandatory for first time offenders, even if only for a weekend. Repeat offenders often serve sentences that are longer than a couple of days, but depending on additional circumstances, penalties may be increased.
Whether you serve jail time or not, you will likely be given a probation sentence, which will require you to visit a probation officer. There may be other requirements as well, as instructed by the judge.
If you want your driver’s license back, you will need to attend an alcohol and drug education class. There is a fee for attending these classes. As part of this program, a counselor will evaluate your alcohol and/or drug consumption behavior to determine if you need to attend a court-approved alcohol treatment program before you can get your license back.
When you do get your license reinstated, expect to pay more for car insurance due to your conviction. Most states will require you to get a special insurance policy, SR-22, before you can get on the road again.
As a result of poor judgment, a DUI will impact your life for years to come. Once your conviction is official, it usually stays on your record. It may show up on background checks that potential employers run. Any subsequent arrests will result in more severe penalties. Do yourself and everyone else a favor by choosing not to drive if you have been drinking.