Your first stop after being taken into custody for DUI or DWI is to appear in court. Technically, you are considered innocent until proven guilty by the court, but if you were found to have a BAC of .08 or more, you may be found guilty of the offense. At that point, it will not matter whether you appeared to be drunk or did not commit any other traffic offense.
Upon receiving a conviction for drunk driving, you will be assessed a fine for the offense as well as court costs for your appearance. Your license will also be taken away for a period of time. Fines and license suspension times vary by state, but they are automatic penalties in every state. Jail time is also a possibility in some states even if it is your first conviction. Jail times also vary by state. Many states also mandate some type of community service and a probation period that comes with various terms and a fee that you will have to pay.
Getting your license back after the suspension is not simply a matter of waiting out the suspension period. In most states, you may have to complete some type of educational program or activity to get your license back. In addition, you cannot have any further offenses or violations during the period your license is suspended. The educational programs vary by state, but they are usually called “DUI schools” or “defensive driving schools.” Upon entering these programs, a counselor will also assess whether you have an alcohol abuse or dependency problem. If they decide that you do have an alcohol problem, it is likely that you will be required to enter a treatment program in order to graduate from the school.
The final consequence of a DUI or DWI conviction is that it goes on your driving record. This is likely to have an impact on your insurance costs and, depending on other circumstances, could result in your company dropping you. Furthermore, you may have difficulty obtaining or keeping a job that requires driving and a clean driving record.
If you are facing drunk driving charges, it is vital to consult an attorney in your state to discuss your rights and options. The attorney may ensure that your rights are protected at every step in the case and work to reduce your charges or penalties if possible.