Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge. You’re probably worried about whether you’ll go to jail or not. You may also want to think about how a DUI will affect your life. The consequences for even a first-time DUI are severe. Even though most states consider a DUI a misdemeanor, the penalties are great.
When you’re charged with DUI, your license may automatically be suspended. This is an administrative charge, separate from the criminal charges. Even if you’re later found to be not guilty of DUI, you still have to deal with your suspended license. In most states, you only have a short time, 5 to 10 business days to protest this suspension. If your license is suspended, you will likely have to pay a hefty fine to have it reinstated. In some jurisdictions, you may even have to install an ignition interlock device at your expense to get your license back.
The criminal charges are more severe. Some states have mandatory jail time, even for a first offense, while other states leave it up to the judge’s discretion. Generally speaking, a first-time DUI would only face 30 to 180 days in jail, but it depends on other factors. You may automatically face jail time if someone was killed in the accident. Many states have special courts for alcohol and drug charges, to reduce incarceration rates. In this type of court, you may not face jail time, but you will have to comply with all the rules of the court. It could include rehab or daily meetings to keep from using alcohol again. In addition to jail time, you could also be fined as part of your punishment, from $500 up to $2,000.
Consequences Beyond the Courts
Your DUI can also affect your ability to get a job or professional license. Your car insurance might be cancelled. If you were in an accident due to DUI, the other driver may sue you for damages that your insurance won’t or doesn’t cover. A DUI should be taken seriously, because it will stay on your driving record for years. You shouldn’t just plead guilty to a DUI without discussing your options with an experienced lawyer.
What Can You Expect?
Every DUI case is different. Whether or not you go to jail depends on many circumstances. Do not hesitate to set up a consultation with a criminal justice lawyer, like the ones at May Law, LLP, as soon as possible. The sooner that you begin the process, the more time you will have to build a solid case.