Driving under the influence is a crime, but the idea of getting arrested for DUI for the very first time may not faze many people. After all, it’s a first-time offense, and the law is quite lenient on first-time offenders. While most states categorize first-time DUIs as a misdemeanor, the consequences, both short-term and long-term, remain serious. If ever you’re arrested for a DUI, you will need to fully understand not just the punishments that come with a DUI conviction, but it’s possible long-term impact on your life as well.
Here are the things that will happen when you’re arrested for DUI for the first time.
• You Will Be Booked: As with any other crime, you will be brought to the nearest police station or jail, where your mugshots and fingerprints will be taken. If you’re allowed to post bail, and someone pays for it, you can be released immediately.
• You’ll Be Ordered To Appear In Court: A ticket or a summons will be handed to you at the time of your arrest to inform you of the date you must show up in court for your DUI hearing.
• Your License Will Be Suspended: Depending on the state, your driver’s license will be suspended immediately after the arrest if you say no to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer or blood test, or it will come as part of your sentence once you’re convicted of DUI.
• You Can Go To Jail: Some people believe that first-time DUI convicts are only given probation. The truth is, jail terms for first-time DUI offenders are now mandatory in an increasing number of states. As first-offense DUI is classified as a misdemeanor in all states, a conviction could mean up to six months in jail. The sentence, however, may be lengthened if there are aggravating circumstances. Typically, however, first-time DUI offenders serve shorter jail terms and spend the rest of the time on probation or performing community service.
• You Will Pay Fines: The fines that courts hand down for DUI convictions may vary from state to state. For a first-time DUI offender, you could be looking at fines of up to $1,800 depending on the state where the offense was committed.
• Your Car Insurance Rates Will Soar: Expect to see a sharp increase in your car insurance premiums once your provider learns of your DUI arrest and conviction. The hike could be a few hundred dollars, but it’s not unheard of for insurance rate hikes to reach thousands of dollars. Finding a car insurance company at an affordable rate is going to be tough if you have a DUI conviction haunting you.
• You Have To Undergo An Alcohol And Drug Education Program: A first-time DUI convict often gets ordered by the court to complete an alcohol and drug education program. Finishing this program is typically a prerequisite to getting one’s driver’s license reinstated. Under the program, you have to attend hours of drunk driving prevention classes and pay for them as well. Your drinking habits will also be assessed under this program, with a trained counselor performing the evaluation to determine if you are suffering from alcohol abuse disorder. Once the evaluation shows that you have an alcohol problem, the counselor may recommend a court-approved alcohol treatment program before your driving privileges are restored.
Does A DUI Conviction Mean You Have A Substance Abuse Problem?
The legal and financial consequences of getting arrested and convicted for a DUI are bad enough, but one thing first-time DUI convicts should think about is what it might be telling them about their own health and well-being. If you find yourself at the receiving end of a first-time DUI, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a substance abuse problem. It’s possible that you are just a light to moderate drinker who made a bad decision to drink and drive. Nevertheless, a DUI arrest and conviction is a serious sign that you need to contemplate your alcohol consumption. It would be great if you, like most drivers arrested for a first-time DUI, make adjustments to your behavior regarding drinking and driving. However, if you continue to drink and drive and become a repeat offender despite the negative consequences, then you are waving a big, red flag. While it’s not irrefutable proof of addiction, it’s a tell-tale sign that you may have an alcohol problem on your hands, and you will likely need professional help.
Get the Services of an Experienced DUI Attorney
Should you ever get arrested on suspicion of DUI, waste no time in hiring a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer to represent you. As a specialist in laws that covers driving under the influence offenses, a DUI lawyer is the best-equipped person to help you get the best possible result for your first-time DUI case.
What Happens When A Person Gets A DUI Or DWI?
Once a person is pulled over, and their blood alcohol concentration is analyzed, the officer will determine if they will remain in custody. Arrested individuals with a BAC of .08 or higher are typically held in jail. The terminology for drunk driving may vary per state, but some of the most common include:
• DUI: driving under the influence
• DWI: driving while intoxicated
• OWI: operating while intoxicated
Once released, the person will likely receive a court date where they will then be sentenced. Sentencing requirements for a DUI or DWI vary on a state-by-state basis; however, minimal penalties often require fines and a revoked license. As part of sentencing for a DUI or DWI, a person may be required to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol addiction treatment program. Mandated treatment means that a person must enroll in treatment as part of their sentencing requirements. If they don’t, they could face legal repercussions. In order to determine the scope and necessity of court-ordered treatment, a person is evaluated to determine if there:
• is a risk for impaired driving in the future.
• is a risk of crash involvement in the future.
• are any issues or circumstances that intervention and treatment should focus on.
Evaluating a person’s risk for continued alcohol abuse and their need for treatment generally takes place in two parts. First, just before or after a referral for treatment is made, a person will likely be screened so that the courts can determine what treatment should be required. Once a person is about to enter treatment, or just after they arrive, a more in-depth evaluation, or assessment occurs. This clinical assessment determines how severe a person’s drinking problem is, what treatments could be used to treat it and how long treatment should be.
Treatment For A DUI
The specifics of court-mandated treatment may differ per person and be dependent on the exact circumstances surrounding their arrest. First-time offenders may have a lighter sentence compared to repeat offenders who have had a previous DUI or DWI. While it isn’t necessary to hire a lawyer, legal representation could help a person during the sentencing process. Every DUI offender comes from a different walk of life, potentially experiencing varying levels of alcohol abuse. Sentencing and treatment referral may take into account other factors that could influence the odds of a person experiencing an alcohol-related traffic problem in the future. An example could include a comorbid condition, such as a co-occurring mental health disorder. From this, the court will determine the duration, frequency and intensity of treatment required for each offender. Treatment may be brief and encompass only one or two sessions, take place in an outpatient program and last several weeks or months or include inpatient treatment followed by aftercare. Treatment is often held in a basic alcohol addiction treatment program located in a person’s community, however, options out of town may be available. Additional court-ordered interventions could include:
• Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
• educational programs
• supervised probation
• victim impact panels
While it can be vastly beneficial for a person to choose getting help on their own, research has shown that involuntary treatment, such as court-ordered rehab, can be effective. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this treatment could increase:
• treatment entry
• retention rates
• a person’s measure of recovery success
Once a sentence is issued and treatment is required, many people may be quick to enter treatment just to get it over with. Though this is understandable, looking at treatment as an opportunity to regain a healthier and more balanced life, in addition to learning sober living skills, can help a person get more out of their program. Because of this, and if the court permits, it can be helpful to research treatment options, prior to selecting a treatment program.
Finding Treatment For A DUI
While it could be tempting to enroll in rehab only for the minimum amount of treatment required, or in a program offered nearby, better options could exist. Court-ordered treatment can be an excellent opportunity for a person to pursue treatment for longer or in a more specialized setting. If it fulfills the sentencing requirements, choosing an out-of-town addiction treatment program could give a person a better chance of successfully recovering from an alcohol use disorder.
How Long Does A Typical DUI Case Last?
The DMV hearing is typically scheduled about four to six weeks after the request, and the person is usually either cited in or bailed out for about three or four weeks after the arrest. On a misdemeanor DUI in Utah, the person charged with a DUI will not have to appear in court. Their attorney will make all their court appearances for them so that they don’t miss work, school or time with their family. The first court appearance is for filing the complaints and arraignments; if the district attorney’s office is ready to file the complaint, they will do so that day. Often they need more time to file the complaint. This happens when the blood test results haven’t yet been received from the lab. At that first appearance, the DA might announce to the judge that they need more time to gather information before they will be ready to file a complaint. If they are ready to file the complaint that day, then when the attorney appears in court, the DA will give them a copy of the criminal complaint as well as the police report and the test results. The attorney typically enters a plea of not guilty on behalf of his or her clients. He or she then asks the judge to set the case for a settlement conference in a few weeks. After the attorney has the police reports and a copy of the complaint, they can order additional discovery or evidence that might be needed for the case. Those might include recordings or photographs that were taken during the DUI arrest. The CHP typically records almost all of their traffic stops with a dashboard camera. That gives us an opportunity to order a copy of the video. We can also get copies of any photographs that were taken, any other audio or video recordings that were made, and copies of the calibration and maintenance records of any Breathalyzer machines that were used. If there was a blood test, we would also be able to have that blood retested by an independent laboratory.
The first thing an attorney should do once they are retained is request the DMV hearing so that they can try to save the person’s driver’s license from the administrative suspension. The attorney should also start gathering information from the client as quickly as possible while their memory of the event was still fresh. They will want to know everything about the DUI stop and everything about the client’s history and their particular situation that might be relevant to the DUI stop. Again, it’s important to get all this information as soon as possible.
Consequences Of A DUI
The person could face a fine. They will face DUI school for a first offense. That can be six weeks, three months or even nine months. They also face a suspension of their driver’s license for anywhere from six months to a year, depending on whether or not they refused the chemical test. A person convicted of a first time DUI can be sentenced to anywhere from two days to six months in the county jail. A typical sentence for a first-time DUI would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 30 days, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, however, the jail sentence would be served on a jail alternative program known as work release. This is where the person works one eight-hour day for the county in exchange for a day of jail. They can do this on weekends or their day off. In addition, they will be on informal court probation for three years. During that time, if they violate any law or drive when they are not licensed or insured, or if they drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system, they can be brought back before the court and charged with a new crime as well as violation of their court probation.
Factors Which Make the DUI Case More Difficult
Getting into an accident makes it worse in terms of the ultimate punishment, even if nobody is hurt, including the driver. The DA and the judge will treat that more severely. Other things that can make the case worse are if a person refuses the chemical test. Punishment will be harsher if the person has a high blood alcohol level. In Utah, there is an enhancement if the person’s blood alcohol level is above a 0.15. There is another enhancement if the blood alcohol level is above a 0.20. And if the blood alcohol level is above 0.20, the judge and the DMV will require a person to complete the longer term of nine months of DUI school. Excessive speeding during a DUI enhances the sentence and makes things worse. It can even be made worse if the DUI occurred in a safety or construction zone. There could be an enhancement for drinking and driving with a minor under the age of 14 in the car. In that case, a person will likely be charged with a misdemeanor or felony child endangerment. That charge carries additional penalties, punishments and probation far beyond what the DUI could impose. Someone who was under 21 can also face additional penalties, because they would lose their license for a year. And, obviously, if anyone was injured, the penalties would be more severe.
Common Mistakes By Clients
The biggest mistake people make is giving the officer too much information. It can be very difficult to negate those tests if a person said too much about how much they had to drink or when they were drinking. Having a bad attitude with the officer can make the report look even worse. Doing very poorly on the field sobriety tests would obviously also be bad.
How Do Past DUI Convictions Work?
The attorney needs to know if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a DUI before. In Utah, it is considered a second DUI if you are arrested and charged within 10 years of your last DUI. DAs typically can see a previous DUI on someone’s record, even if was more than 10 years earlier, but in that case, you would not be charged with a second DUI. Still, they will make the punishment more severe because, even if the first DUI was more than 10 years ago, the current one is not truly a first offense.
When you need legal help with a DUI charge in Utah, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506