Many people think that getting convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) is a minor offence. But the reality is that this conviction can have serious legal repercussions.
Negligent driving, without the influence of any legal or illegal substance, is considered a civil offence, and is therefore sentenced with lighter fines and sentences. A DUI, however, is treated as a criminal offence that can result in jail time, hefty fines, driver’s license revocation, and vehicle impoundment. In addition, a DUI offence can increase insurance premiums, making it more expensive.
Legal Consequences of First Time DUI Convicts
Most first-time DUI offences result in punishment in the form of a fine. However, in some cases, the court also orders the person to serve jail time in addition to payment of a fine. This depends on the state laws, as the treatment of first time offenders differs from state to state. Almost every state will suspend the driver’s license for a specific time period even for first time DUI offenders. That being said, depending on the your driving history, the court may allow you to apply for an occupational driving license so that you can drive to work or school.
A person convicted of a DUI offense, whether convicted for the first time or multiple times, must pay court costs, a urinalysis fee, probation fees, and a fine. The court may also instruct the person to attend alcohol counseling and services for a specific number of hours.
Generally, a DUI charge will be considered a misdemeanor for the first offense, which will result in fines, license suspension, mandatory community service, and possible probation. However, there are cases when the first DUI charge can result in enhanced penalties and sentences.
For instance, if you were found to have an open container when driving under the influence, your sentence could be increased to jail time and/or heavier fines. If a child was present in the car, some of the state laws elevate the charge to a felony, resulting in severe penalties even if you have no prior DUI convictions.
You must not drive when your license has been suspended due to a DUI offense. Otherwise, you will pick up additional penalties and fines. Some states may even require you to install an ignition interlock device, and failure to comply may result in jail time.
Consider Hiring a Professional Attorney
If you or someone you know has been convicted of a DUI offense for the first time, you must immediately contact a professional attorney. An expert attorney can thoroughly evaluate your case, gather evidence, and present the case before the court in a manner that can result in minimum penalties for the offence.