Even though it's common for states to classify a first-time DUI charge as a misdemeanor, you should be aware that a DUI arrest or conviction can come with severe consequences. If you've been charged with a DUI for the first time, you need to be aware of mandatory sentencing requirements in your area. It would help if you also looked at how a DUI conviction will impact you in the long term.
What Can You Expect If You've Been Charged With A DUI For The First Time?
Typically, people that are convicted for a first-time DUI offense have to drive with an ignition interlock device or have their license suspended. This usually lasts for six months to one year. On average, finds are typically around $1,500 to $2,000. You may face jail time between 10 and 30 days, and you may be required to complete drug & alcohol classes.
While this is the outcome that's most likely for a first-time offender based on February 2020 laws, it's important to remember that every case is different. Meeting with an experienced lawyer right away to discuss strategies or see if your charges can be dismissed could lead to a better option.
You'll want to be fully aware of the current consequences for a 1st time DUI conviction. You'll also want to know what a great attorney can do for you and what you can expect to pay. If you work with a lawyer, you may be able to reduce the severity of the consequences you're facing. You may be able to avoid jail time and even keep the offense of your permanent record.
What Are The Consequences Of A First-Time DUI Conviction?
People that are charged with a crime like a DUI for the first time often assume that they'll receive supervision. After all, it's a first-time offense. It's true that many people receive supervision after their first DUI charge. With that said, It is not uncommon for the prosecutors to offer probation instead of court supervision. The difference may seem insignificant, however, it is very important. With court supervision, you are not convicted of the offense and your license will not be revoked.
If you receive probation, there will be a conviction on your record for DUI and your license becomes automatically revoked or canceled. It is also possible that the Judge may order you to spend some time in the county jail as a condition for your supervision or probation. This is true even if you're only being charged with a misdemeanor. In fact, your state laws may require you to spend time in jail.
Mandatory jail sentences aren't the only consequence you'll face. Nearly all states require license suspension after a DUI, even if the offender has never been charged with a DUI before. Even with court supervision, you can face up to a year license suspension for a DUI.
It may be possible for you to receive a hardship license that allows you to drive yourself to work and school, or you may be eligible for an occupational driver's license. There are also certain conditions for a DUI conviction that are required to be completed. Typically, this includes a fine, court costs, urinalysis fees, and probation fees. The monthly payment could be equivalent to a smaller car payment. You may also be required to complete community service hours or participate in drug and alcohol classes.
What are the First-Time DUI Conviction Punishments?
In most cases, a first-time DUI offense will be classified as a misdemeanor. Likely punishments include community service, fines, license suspension, and potential supervision. With that said, the level of your charge could change based on the circumstances of your offense, which could lead to more severe penalties.
As an example, if you have a child in the vehicle during your DUI offense, your charge could require you to be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail. This can happen even if you've never been convicted for a DUI before. If an open container is found in your vehicle when you're pulled over, it's likely that you'll still be charged with a misdemeanor, but you may have to pay a more substantial fine or spend more time in jail.
While driving under the influence is a crime, there's also an administrative side to DUI charges that can cause problems for you. Even before a conviction, you could have your license suspended in some states if you don't submit to a breathalyzer test. This suspension is separate from the license suspension you will receive if you're convicted for driving under the influence.
Can I get Jail Time For My First-Time DUI Offense?
In the majority of cases, DUI offenses are misdemeanors. Jail time can be anywhere between two days to one year. With that said, it's common for judges to sentence offenders to court supervision rather than jail. The supervision period typically lasts between one and two years.
The laws regarding first-time offenses have changed. Although not likely for a first time offender, jail time of up to 364 days is possible for any DUI charges, whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication. Someone can spend time in jail even if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or other tests and are found guilty.
How much jail time can you expect if you've been convicted for a DUI? This can vary based on the specifics of the offense. The average sentence for first-time offenders usually requires no jail time as long as you complete all the conditions of your supervision. Deciding whether or not to sentence an offender to jail is usually at the discretion of a judge. For first time offenses, judges usually sentence you to court supervision rather than jail time.
In scenarios where probation is a requirement, the amount of time spent on probation will often be longer than the amount of time an offender would spend in jail. Two years of probation or more is not at all uncommon. In addition to potential jail time, offenders will have to pay fines, cover court costs, attend required classes or counseling, complete any required community service, and potentially have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle.
License Suspensions For First-Time DUI Offenders
For many, a driver's license suspension is a more severe penalty than community service, probation, or jail time. We depend on vehicles for many parts of our lives. You may need a car to get to and from your job or to pick up your children from school. If you're a commercial driver, your license could be your livelihood.
In the majority of cases, first-time DUI offenders will face automatic license suspension after being arrested for a DUI. The length of a suspension varies from state to state, but a suspension can last for three months or longer. You could have a more lengthy license suspension if you turn down chemical tests.
Thankfully, in many states, you will have the option to apply for a restricted license or breathalyzer device. This will allow you to drive yourself to work or school or to any treatment programs that are mandated by the court. You should remember that an additional DUI arrest could lead to a much longer suspension.
What Can A DUI Lawyer Do For You?
Being charged with a DUI can impact you in countless ways. It can limit your career options, stay on your permanent record, and take a significant toll on your finances. You need to take these charges seriously, even if you've never been charged with a DUI before. You'll want to consult with a DUI lawyer as soon as you possibly can. They'll be able to look over your case with you and help you develop the best strategy to face these charges.