If you have received a DUI charge, try to stay calm; there may be things that you can do to fight the charge. The initial question of most people following a DUI charge is “Am I going to go to jail?” While there is a chance that you may spend some time in jail, if it is your first charge and you follow these tips, it’s likely you can avoid serving time.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited throughout the U.S., as well as most of the world. DUI laws vary throughout the country but most DUI charges occur when a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08% The severity of a DUI charge varies from state to state, as do penalties for conviction.
Penalties of a DUI
DUIs sometimes come with harsh punishments to discourage offenders to not do it again. After receiving a DUI, expect your license to be suspended, as almost all states suspend your license for some period of time. You can expect your insurance premiums to increase. Because those with DUI charges are considered more at risk to have an accident, insurance companies charge higher premiums to make up for the risk. Also expect to pay fines, court costs, and other fees.
All states laws vary, but in most places your license will be suspended for three months to one year for your first offense. Some states require a mandatory jail sentence but most will not spend more than 24 hours in jail if represented by an attorney. Many states allow community service and suspend the jail sentence. Most states include a fine of approximately $250-$1,000 plus court costs.
Contact a Lawyer
Although many people do not seek representation for their first offense, it is generally recommended that you do contact a lawyer after receiving a DUI. Attorneys usually aren't cheap but if there's a chance of getting your DUI dismissed or contesting the charge, an attorney will be the one to guide you through the process. Lawyers can also work with prosecutors to get reduced fines, reduced costs, or reduced sentences. These reduced costs usually make up for the money you will spend on an attorney.
Attorneys can also work to get you a work permit for driving so that you can get to and from work to keep your job. Some states also allow drivers to get a breathalyzer interlock device that ensures you haven't been drinking before you start your car.
An attorney will do whatever he or she can to help you with your DUI case. Some states and courts require that mandatory jail time be served if convicted. Lawyers can attempt to exchange jail time for community service or get the jail time suspended.
A lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed if you contest the DUI charge, depending on the specific circumstances. If your case is dismissed or taken under advisement, you can often get the charge removed from your record and your lawyer can work with your insurance company to keep your premiums from increasing.
Lawyers range in price, usually based on their experience and success rates. Many lawyers specialize in DUI cases. If you receive a DUI charge, research lawyers in your area to find someone who can work within your budget. Many lawyers also allow people to make payments if they cannot afford representation during the time of consultation.[divider] [/divider]
Kenneth Fairbanks writes on a variety of critical legal issues including dui expungement, insurance law, banking law, civil procedure and others as well.