A DUI is a serious charge that can take a tremendously negative toll on your life. All 50 states use some sort of DUI laws to discourage drunk driving and to protect the public. By realizing what could happen to your life after a DUI charge, you can take the necessary precautions to avoid the serious mistake of driving under the influence.
What is a DUI?
A DUI is a criminal traffic offense that stands for Driving Under the Influence. In some states, DUI extends to the consumption of alcohol before driving. In other states, DUI refers to both alcohol and the use of illegal, controlled, or over-the-counter medications that can cause intoxication.
Nonetheless, the cost of a DUI goes further than just getting a ticket or having the DUI show up on your insurance and driving record. It can cost you thousands of dollars in civil fines as well as the cost of taking your case to court. You also may face the cost of having your license or insurance reinstated after you serve your sentence for DUI.
Another cost you could incur involves hiring a DUI lawyer to take over your case. A DUI lawyer can be a valuable asset in your DUI fight because he or she can make sure you were issued the ticket lawfully and that you were charged with a DUI that matches your blood alcohol content level. That is to say, your DUI might be a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony, which can result in a smaller ticket as well as a lower cost to your pocketbook and future.
If you find yourself charged with DUI, you should retain a good lawyer immediately to handle your case. This decision could spare you the cost of having to go to jail and pay huge civil fines.
What Happens After Your DUI Arrest?
If you are arrested for and charged with DUI, you will get more than a speeding ticket or a ticket for reckless driving, both of which can cause your insurance rates to increase. You also will be taken to the city or county jail where you should have the opportunity to call a DUI lawyer to represent you.
Along with verifying that you actually had insurance on your car during the time of your DUI driving, the police officer who charged you will also check your blood alcohol content level or BAC. The level of your BAC can determine the cost of your ticket as well as what type of DUI you will be charged with at your formal arraignment hearing.
You should be given the opportunity to retain a lawyer prior to your arraignment hearing. If not, you will have the chance to call for one after you have been arraigned and charged. Your DUI legal counsel can appear at the hearing with you and argue down the charges if necessary. He or she may even be able to get the charges dismissed if you are a first-time offender.
The type of charges that you face will also determine if you can go home after making the cost of bail or posting a bond or if you must stay in jail to await your court appearance. Your lawyer may be able to help you arrange for bail or bond to get out of jail and figure out what that cost will be.
Can You Get Bail after Being Charged with a DUI?
Whether or not you can get bail or post the cost of a bond to get out of jail will depend on what type of DUI you are facing. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could be allowed to pay a small bond, which is a type of insurance that guarantees your appearance at your court dates. The cost of the bond is typically 10 percent of whatever the cost of the bail has been set at by the judge.
You also may be able to pay the full cost of bail if the cost is low enough. This type of insurance again means that you promise to show up to all of your court dates. If you abscond while out on bail, your lawyer will not be able to help you avoid being charged with absconding or felony evasion along with your original DUI.
If you are eligible for bail or bond, you can arrange for a bondsman to come to the jail to pay the ticket directly to the court. You then will sign a contract stating that you agree to make the cost of your bail payments and show up to court on time for all of your dates in exchange for having the DUI ticket paid.
How Much Jail Time Can You Get for a DUI?
Even if you do pay the cost of bail or bond insurance to get out of jail, you still could be sentenced to a jail term after your trial or court appearance. Once you are sentenced formally to jail, you cannot secure any type of insurance to get you out early. Even your lawyer may have no choice but to allow you to do your time and pay your debt to society.
Your lawyer may be instrumental in determining how long of a jail sentence you receive, however. A good DUI lawyer may be able to get you off with just the cost of the initial DUI ticket. The cost itself could be lowered if your lawyer can prove that you are a first-time offender and have no other ticket offenses on your insurance or driving record.
Nonetheless, the time you serve behind bars will depend on what type of DUI with which you were charged. Being charged with a misdemeanor DUI and perhaps a speeding ticket can result in a shorter jail sentence of just a few days or perhaps up to 10 days in some states. However, being charged with a felony DUI can result in you having to serve months or even a year or longer in jail. The cost to your future can be tremendous if you were charged with a felony.
What Happens During Your DUI Court Appearance?
After being charged with a DUI, you will make at least two court appearances. The first DUI appearance will be when you are formally charged with DUI. The judge will tell you what the cost of your bail ticket is or how much a bond ticket will cost you if you cannot post all of your bail amount.
The amount of your bail or bond could be lower if you have insurance on your vehicle that can cover the cost of damages to property that you inflicted during your DUI. The insurance can also be used to cover the medical cost of anyone you hurt while DUI driving. Your lawyer may be able to argue down the DUI charges based on the fact that you had insurance in the first place to cover the cost of your poor driving choice.
You also can have your lawyer appear with you at all of your DUI court appearances especially your second appearance where you will have the opportunity to defend yourself. Your lawyer may be able to spare you a devastating legal cost that could result in you going to jail and having to pay huge civil fines.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get one appointed to you at no cost. After you are charged and issued the ticket, you will be read your Miranda rights. These rights indicate that you can have a lawyer appointed to you at no cost to yourself. A court-appointed lawyer may also be able to help you beat the DUI charges and pay for the cost of the initial traffic ticket.
What Happens if Your Car is Impounded after a DUI?
People who are arrested and charged with DUI often have their cars impounded by the police. They cannot legally and safely drive themselves to the police station. They also cannot leave their cars parked alongside of the road. If they abandon their cars, they could get a ticket that their insurance will not pay for or could possibly raise their insurance rates.
As such, the police may impound your car after your DUI arrest. If your car is impounded, you will have to pay for the cost to get it out after you serve your DUI sentence. The cost of the impound ticket can be very expensive and cost hundreds of dollars. It also will probably not be covered by your insurance policy.
Instead, you may need help from your lawyer to find out if your car has been impounded and if so, where it is at. Your lawyer may be able to incorporate the impound fees into his or her retainer and legal cost that you will pay out of your own pocket. This courtesy would at least let you get your car out of impound after you serve your DUI sentence or pay your DUI fine. However, some lawyers are not able to do this, leaving you to cover the cost of the impound ticket out of your own pocket.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on My Insurance?
Another personal cost of getting a DUI is the fact that your DUI ticket can stay on your insurance record for years. Unlike a speeding ticket, which may fall off after a few short years, a DUI can stay on your record for years longer. It will be a determining factor every time you apply for a new car insurance policy. The cost you pay for the policy can be twice or even three times what you would pay without the DUI on your record.
When you have a DUI lawyer working your case, however, you may be spared the lengthy and embarrassing cost that a DUI ticket can have on your record. Your DUI lawyer may be able to argue down the charges or have you take a plea deal, which could involve going through a diversion program. The diversion program may involve going through drug and alcohol rehab. After you complete the program, the DUI ticket could be expunged from your insurance record.
This option is available in a number of states with DUI laws. However, to take a plea deal, you typically have to go through a lawyer who specializes in DUI law. The cost of hiring this type of lawyer could be worth it if he or she can spare you the cost of having an expensive and devastating DUI ticket on your record.
How to Hire a Good DUI Lawyer
Hiring a good DUI lawyer can be critical if you want to spare yourself the full cost of incurring a DUI in the first place. If you have the monetary means to hire your own DUI attorney, you should look for one who is experienced in this area of law. You do not want to entrust your case to a novice who just graduated from law school. The cost of hiring an unskilled lawyer could drastically outweigh any benefits like a lower retainer fee.
Further, you can hire a skilled DUI lawyer by asking for a referral from the state bar association. Many state bars provide referrals for DUI lawyers in your area. You can find one who has a retainer cost that you can afford as well as one who is accepting new clients.
Your friends and family members may also know of good DUI attorneys to hire. Chances are you know or are related to someone who has faced a DUI charge in court and can recommend a good attorney that does not come with a lot of cost. If the DUI attorney did a good job for your friend or loved one at a reasonable cost, you could hire this individual to represent you.
If you cannot afford the cost of a DUI attorney, you could have one appointed to you at no cost. The cost will be paid for by the court and the taxpayers.
How Much Will a DUI Really Cost You?
When all of your DUI expenses are added up, they could cost in the thousands of dollars. The cost exceeds that of a speeding ticket or even a ticket for reckless driving. A DUI can truly be an expensive mistake that can take a toll not only on your freedom and future but also your finances.
The first expense comes from actually getting pulled over and charged with a DUI. The ticket for this offense alone can cost upwards of $500 in many states even if you are a first-time offender. Repeat offenders often have to pay $1000 to $10,000 in fines for DUI.
Another cost comes from having to retain a lawyer to defend you in court. Many attorneys who specialize in DUI law charge at least a couple hundred dollars for a retainer fee. They then charge by the hour for your defense. By the time your case is settled, it could cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees alone.
Finally, the cost of getting your car out of impound and insured again can be expensive. Your insurance cost may rise substantially because of your DUI arrest and charge. In some instances, your insurer may drop your policy and force you to find another high-risk insurer to issue a policy to you.
A DUI can be a costly mistake that is better avoided entirely. Avoiding a DUI is not a difficult endeavor and only takes using some common sense when you are out drinking.
Avoiding a DUI
The most common sense way to avoid getting a DUI is to simply avoid drinking and driving. If you are out in public or even at home, you can simply refrain from drinking alcohol before you decide to drive your car.
Of course, with common sense and limitations, you can still safely drink during a night out with friends as long as you know your limit. You can now purchase portable breathalyzer devices that plug into your smartphone or clip onto your key chain.
You blow in them after drinking to learn what your blood alcohol content is. If it is close or over the 0.08 percent limit used by most states, you know that you should stop drinking and sober up before driving.
Finally, you should use a designated driver or take a taxi home if you have had too much to drink. While you may have a hangover the next day, at least you will not have a DUI on your record. You avoid the legal and financial cost that comes with driving after having too much to drink.
As always, if you find yourself charged with a DUI, you should not underestimate the importance of hiring a good attorney to represent you in court and handle your case. You could avoid the harshest penalties that come with a DUI. These legal punishments include steep fines, having your license suspended, your car impounded, and possibly having to serve time in jail.