If you've been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (or DWI), you must take quick action to protect your rights. Your first priority should be getting in touch with a criminal defense lawyer since the consequences of being convicted of this crime are stiff. To learn more about what you might be facing for your DUI charge, read on.
Will you serve jail time?
That depends on a few details of your arrest. Many states require at least a few days in jail, even if it's your first offense. If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is above a certain level, some states impose mandatory jail time if convicted. If this is your second or subsequent offense within a certain number of years, you can expect to serve time in jail.
Additionally, if your offense gets bumped up to a felony (a DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor), you might be facing years in jail. Felony DUI can be applied to cases where someone died, someone was injured, or if it's the third or fourth DUI.
Will you pay a fine?
Fines for a DUI can range from a few hundred to thousands, depending on the discretion of the judge.
Will you lose your driver's license?
It's very common to face a license suspension of several months with a first-time DUI charge. This suspension will usually be immediate upon arrest and will be accomplished through both law enforcement and your state's department of motor vehicles. Lest you consider this a minor issue, you must also consider the higher driver's license fees charged for getting your license reinstated after the suspension period, which can often be hundreds of dollars extra over the usual license cost. While state law varies, you can expect a first-time offense to garner you a 90-day suspension, a second offense to be a year, and a third offense to be 3 years.
If you refuse to participate in a test for the presence of alcohol, such as a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test, you may face an automatic license suspension, no matter how your DUI case turns out. To be clear, even if you are found innocent of any DUI charges, if you refuse to be tested at the time of the arrest, you will still lose your driver's license.
What other forms of punishment can you expect?
1. Seizure of the vehicle
2. Revocation of the car registration
3. Ignition lock on vehicle for a certain number of days
4. Ignition interlock device must be installed
5. Participation in educational and driving classes
6. Drug and alcohol counseling
7. Community service
8. Auto insurance cancellation (by the carrier)
9. Employment opportunities for those who drive for their jobs may be impacted
The law does not play around when it comes to the punishments for a DUI, but being arrested is far from the same thing as a conviction. Speak to an attorney about your stop and arrest and see to it that you don't stand accused of a crime that you did not commit.