Even though some states consider first DUI offenses as misdemeanors, you mustn't take the consequences of the arrest lightly. DUI convictions have severe punishment and mandatory sentences associated with the charge. There are also many long-term consequences to take into consideration before you decide to get behind the wheel after having alcoholic beverages.
Consequences Following A First DUI Offense
Many people make the mistake of thinking that being arrested for their first DUI offense means you only receive probation. However, some courts can require you to serve time at your county jail as one of the conditions of your probation. Misdemeanor charges do not mean you do not get jail time. On top of mandatory jail time, almost every state will require your license to be suspended for a specific amount of time, even if it's your first offense.
Depending on your criminal history, you might be able to get a hardship license so you can continue driving to and from work each day. Typically, probation conditions for DUI charges include court costs, substantial fines, urinary analysis fees and probation charges. Most people find that a DUI will cost them the same as a small car payment each month. You will also have to attend alcohol or drug counseling and complete community service hours.
Punishment For First-Time DUI Offenders
Unless you have an extensive criminal history, your first DUI offense will usually be charged as a misdemeanor. You may also find you receive an enhanced sentence or extra penalties in certain cases. A couple of examples include having an open alcohol container in your vehicle when pulled over and having a minor present while driving. Some states will automatically upgrade your charge to a felony offense in these cases. Some states might automatically suspend your driver's license for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. This suspension will be separate from the one that comes with your DUI conviction.
License Suspension Conditions For First DUI Offenses
To get your license reinstated after your first DUI offense, you will have to deal with criminal and administrative law judges. You mustn't attempt to drive while your license is suspended. If you are caught driving with a suspended license after a DUI charge, you will pick up more charges and extensive fines.
Some states require offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle while the case is pending. You will be in charge of paying for the device to be installed, and the device can cost anywhere from $200 or more a month to have in your vehicle. Failure to comply with this condition of your offense may result in your bond being revoked, and you will get sent back to the county jail.
Long-Term DUI Consequences For Multiple Offenders
The most important thing to understand about your first DUI offense is that it comes with long-term consequences. Even if your sentence gets deferred or probated, the probated sentence is going to remain on your criminal record and can be used against you at a later time. If you end up getting charged with a second or third DUI offense, your first offense will be taken into consideration and can lead to an increase in your penalties and jail time. Even though most states differ in their laws regarding DUI offenses, most will consider two or more DUIs a felony offense.
First DUI offenses can also affect your car insurance and employment. Many employers run criminal history checks before hiring someone. If they find your DUI listed on your criminal records, you may end up being denied the job. A DUI offense is considered a risk factor for your car insurance company and your premiums may go up because of it. Some car insurance companies will deny coverage to consumers who get DUIs.
Obtaining Help From A DUI Attorney
As you can see, there are many consequences to a first DUI offense. It can affect your finances, your reputation, your criminal history and employment opportunities. It is important not to take these charges lightly simply because it happens to be your first DUI arrest. To ensure the best outcome possible from your case, it is important to hire the help of a DUI attorney. They can help you take on the many critical issues that come attached to your DUI offense.
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