Very few situations are as stressful and terrifying as being pulled over by a law enforcement officer, arrested, and charged with a DUI. Drivers often have dozens of different questions running through their heads such as do people face jail time for DUI and how much it will cost to hire an attorney? While driving drunk is extremely dangerous, many drivers are illegally arrested or given much stiffer penalties than they deserve. If you have recently been arrested for driving drunk, then now is the time to act. Scheduling a consultation with a DUI lawyer is the first step toward clearing your record and moving on with your life.
Every single drunk driving offense is slightly different, and the penalties for these misdemeanors and felonies vary by quite a bit. As a general rule, a driver’s first DUI is classified as a misdemeanor unless there are extenuating circumstances such as additional charges. The judge also has the ability to upgrade a misdemeanor to a felony if the driver injured another party or caused extensive property damage. Drivers who are arrested for driving drunk are going to face a much different process than all other driving infractions. They will be forced to schedule a hearing with the DMV as well as an arraignment before a judge in order to understand their charges.
Driving drunk can also be upgraded to a felony charge if the driver is a repeat offender. Anyone who has their charge enhanced to a drunk driving felony will almost always spend at least some time in jail. The charges will also go on the individual’s permanent record, and that can affect everything from their job prospects to loan applications. Being convicted of driving drunk could potentially alter the course of your life for decades to come. Those are just a few of the reasons why it is so important to contact an attorney who has experience handling DUI cases.
Base Fines and Fees
The overall cost of a DUI is determined by dozens of different factors. Even if no one was injured and you didn’t damage any private or public property, your first offense could potentially cost you upwards of $20,000. The first expensive you will have to pay is your bail, and that could be as much as $2,500. You will then need to schedule an appointment with the DMV in order to have a hearing over the state of your license. A driver might have to pay hundreds of dollars just to apply for a temporary license while their drunk driving case moves forward.
If the driver is convicted of driving drunk or enters a guilty plea, then they will have to pay a variety of courthouse fines and fees. A judge has the ability to apply many other penalties including mandatory sobriety classes, the use of an ignition interlock device, and community service. Not only are convictions expensive, but they can also be extremely time-consuming. Many states and counties require a minimum sentence of 100 community service hours for first-time offenders.
What most drivers don’t realize is that a conviction is also going to have a major impact on their insurance. Some of the leading insurance providers in the country won’t insure drivers who have these misdemeanors and felonies on their records. That means you will need to apply for specialty insurance before your license will be reinstated. SR22 insurance for those who have been convicted of driving drunk generally costs thousands of dollars more per year. Your premiums will remain that high until the DUI finally comes off of your record. Most states will leave a DUI on a driver’s record for at least seven years.
Can I Go to Jail for DUI?
When it comes to driving drunk, the fines are only the tip of the iceberg. If this is your first DUI, you could be given a sentence of six months in county jail. For many drivers, that will make it nearly impossible to hold a steady job or move forward with their career. Felony DUIs come with much longer sentences, and drivers must identify themselves as felons on all future loan and job applications. Any jobs that require you to drive a vehicle or be around alcohol will most likely be out of the question for the rest of your life.
How Much Will It Cost Me to Beat the DUI Charges?
If you have been arrested for driving drunk, then you are most likely wondering how much it will cost to hire an attorney. The final costs vary by quite a bit, and they are determined by factors such as how long the trial takes and the official charges. Even if you are worried about the overall costs, you should still contact an attorney to schedule an initial consultation. Most DUI attorneys offer free or low-cost consultations to drivers who are unsure of their legal options. What all drivers should realize is that being convicted of driving drunk is going to affect their daily habits, personal relationships, and career options.
Following an Arrest
After being arrested for driving drunk, your only two legal obligations are to provide the law enforcement officers with your personal information and submit for the chemical BAC test. Once those steps have been taken, drivers don’t need to discuss the case with any law enforcement officers until they have contacted a lawyer. Quite a few drivers attempt to talk their way out of these charges, but that will almost always hurt their case. Anything that is said during or after the arrest can be used against the driver at a later time. You might try to claim that you only had a few drinks and weren’t driving drunk, but that could potentially be considered an admission of guilt.
As soon as you are able to do so, you must immediately contact a DUI lawyer to discuss your options. During your initial consultation, you will need to provide them with information such as what took place before the arrest and how the arrest was carried out. While some of that information might seem trivial, it could actually have a major impact on the plea bargain or trial.
Beating a DUI Charge
There is no single tactic that can be used to defeat all DUI charges. After hearing your side of the story and then collecting the evidence, your lawyer will need to come up with a personalized plan to have your charges reduced or removed. One of the most common ways to beat a DUI is to claim that the traffic stop or DUI checkpoint wasn’t conducted legally. Law enforcement officers must adhere to very strict rules when conducting a traffic stop or establishing a DUI checkpoint. If they don’t adhere to all of those rules, then any arrests that they make might not be legal.
Another method that is used to beat DUI charges is to prove that the driver’s BAC was not correctly reported. The law enforcement officer might have used the chemical testing device incorrectly or the device itself could have been faulty. All of that information must be taken into consideration before making the case. Even if the charges aren’t dropped entirely, bringing those variables up could result in much lower fines and fees.
Working With a DUI Attorney
There is simply too much at stake for you to try to take on the legal system alone. Working with a local DUI attorney could help you avoid some of the worst penalties for driving under the influence. Even if you have admitted guilt or failed to contact the DMV, you might still be able to avoid long-term penalties with an experienced lawyer by your side.