When you are charged with a DUI or DWI for the first time, it can be a scary time for you. You don’t know what to expect and aren’t sure what will happen to you. While the consequences of any drunken driving offense are serious, it doesn’t have to mean jail time or the end of your driving career. This is especially true for first-timers. If this is your first DUI or DWI charge, here’s what you can expect, to answer the question, “What happens when you get a DUI or DWI for the first time?”
The exact penalties you will face will depend largely on the circumstances of the offense. It will also depend on the laws of your state. Some states treat first-time offenses more harshly than others. For example, in Alabama, a first offense can get you a fine of up to $1,200 and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days. That’s just for the first time! In other states, you may only be charged a small fine and put on probation for a year. Of course, if you injured someone in the incident, or if a property was damaged, you might actually face jail time, even if it WAS your first offense.
Rarely will a state impose jail time on a first time offender if no damage was involved? Again, however, the exact penalty depends on the state. In California, even first-time offenders are required to serve 96 hours in jail if convicted. Of course, with overcrowding, sometimes just showing up to jail will be sufficient to get you released for good behavior almost upon your arrival. It’s certainly happened to some high profile celebrities recently.
The best thing you can do for yourself if you’re wondering what happens when you get a DUI or DWI for the first time is to contact a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. That lawyer will be able to advise you of your state’s laws and tell you what you can expect if you’re convicted. This will help you prepare for any possibility that may come up in court. If you’re very lucky, a good lawyer may even be able to get the charges against you reduced, which will result in much more lenient sentencing.
Due to the work of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), DUI offenders are facing changes in the laws. The penalties, even for first offenders, have gone up. The fines have increased and mandatory jail time has been increased. At the same time, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit has gone down in many states from. 1 percent to. 08 in all states.
The legal drinking age in every state is now 21 years of age. Two-thirds of all states now have an Administrative License Revocation law. This basically allows the arresting officer to take your license if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or if you fail the test.
All states have now passed Zero Tolerance laws. These laws say that no driver under 21 can have a measurable amount of blood alcohol. This will mean the revocation of a license. A lost license can be temporary or permanent, depending upon whether the violator is a repeat offender or not.
Many of the penalties for drinking and driving have increased. This is especially true for repeat offenders. Many repeat offenders will find themselves facing stiff fines and mandatory jail time. In most cases, it will be almost impossible to get a hardship license to drive to and from work.
The hopes that an attorney will get you out of the jail time, license suspension or a fine for drunk driving are very slim. Most of the fines, suspension times and jail time are mandatory, though they may differ from state to state. First-time offenders can be hit hard with fines, license suspensions and weekend jail time.
For those that are repeat offenders or habitual violators, there are felony penalties for three DUI convictions. A felony conviction can cost you many of your civil rights. The ability to own a weapon or vote, along with permanent loss of license may occur.
DUI school can be a part of a lengthy process of getting a license back for a person that has had more than one DUI. You may be required to have an assessment interview where your drinking habits are looked at. It may be determined that you must attend some form of rehabilitation before you can get your license back. It may also be determined that you must maintain extra insurance. This can be expensive, especially if you have had an accident while drinking. Society is attempting to demonstrate that drinking and driving are unacceptable. DUI offenders are facing changes that can impact their lives forever.
Top five questions asked by those arrested for the first time DUI
1. Will I go to jail? A first time DUI carries a maximum sentence of up to 6 months of jail, however, this is seldom if ever imposed. Typically on a first time DUI, as long as there are no aggravating factors, you will not serve any additional jail time to what you have already served. Aggravating factors can be having children under 14 in the car during the offense, excessive speed enhancement, refusing chemical tests, injuring someone in an accident, etc. If your case is a typical, standard first time DUI, then you can probably expect no additional jail time with exceptions.
2. Will I lose my license? A first time DUI does carry a mandatory license suspension. There are two possible ways to this process. Your license can be suspended either after a DMV Hearing loss or a conviction of a DUI in court. This can range from a 30-day suspension, followed by 5 months restricted license following a DMV Hearing loss to a 6 months restricted driver license following a DUI court conviction. The restricted license is only to, from and during the scope of your employment and to and from your mandatory alcohol classes.
3. How much are the fines? Typically, the total fines and fees that a person will pay on the first time DUI is $2,064.00. These fines may be paid in full or paid off through a payment plan at the court collections office.
4. Will I have to take classes? A person must complete either a 3 or 9-month alcohol program. The level of the program is typically based on a person’s blood alcohol concentration. If the person’s level is between.08% to.19%, that person will be required to complete the 3-month program, however, if the person’s level is.20% or higher, they will be required to complete a 9-month program.
5. How long will this stay on my record? A DUI conviction will stay on your record for prosecution purposes for ten years from the date of offense. If you are convicted of one or more DUI’s within the next 10 years, then you will count as a multiple offenders and will be subject to higher fines, more jail, longer license suspension, etc. and if it is a fourth offense or more, will most likely be charged as a felony offense, which could land you in state prison.
Remember that all of the above answers are based upon what happens to the majority of an average first time DUI cases, however, each case is looked at differently and the outcomes could be greater than what is listed based upon circumstances of the individual cases.
You should never hesitate to call a DUI lawyer. Sometimes people assume that because this is the first time they have been caught, there is no need to get legal representation. First-time offenders don’t usually suffer steep consequences, right? Unfortunately, you cannot be sure that you will make it through the situation unscathed.
It is confusing to go through the system alone. You may not have any idea what is happening or what you should do to protect your reputation and your license. Instead of trying to figure it out on the go, contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You need someone that can help you navigate the legal system and help you make decisions important to your case.
There are plenty of mistakes to be made by a person without sound legal counsel. Unfortunately, when these mistakes are made, there is no way to go back and remedy this situation. Once you provide information or refuse representation, you put yourself in a bad situation that is not easy to fix. It could cost you your freedom, your finances, and even your reputation.
DUI Anxiety and Fear
It can be scary to go through something and have no idea what to expect. You have no idea if charges are going to be filed, if you are going to spend the night in jail or if your friends and family are going to find out. You have a lot on the line in this type of situation. Because of this, you need a DUI lawyer to help. Your first time going through this can be frightening as there are so many things that you don’t know.
From the very beginning, your DUI lawyer will talk to you about what is going to happen. He or she will get your side of the story and then begin to formulate a plan. He may want to have the charges dismissed or try to settle the situation. No matter what, when you have a professional on your side, you can rest assured that he is going to have your best interests in mind and try to get you a favorable outcome to the situation.
Every year people believe that they can handle things like this on their own. They assume that because they are first time offenders, they are not going to feel the full extent of the law. Unfortunately, they go into the situation with a false sense of confidence only to find that they are facing severe consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, make a phone call right away and talk to a DUI lawyer to represent your case.
Encountering a problem for the first time tends to be a somewhat confusing and difficult experience no matter what the situation. If you find yourself in a criminal situation for the first time, this anxiety will surely be amplified. For most, a first time DUI conviction is not only a stressful experience, but it is also an area that they may not have thought about or considered before being put in this unfortunate position. Not knowing your legal rights can lead to even more issues with regard to a DUI offense than if you were well-versed in the process.
In Utah, considering that there were well over 15,000 DUI arrests last year (with 44% coming from Salt Lake County alone), driving under the influence offense is strictly enforced and comes with many penalties and consequences.
According to Utah Code 41-6a-502, a person may not operate or be in physical control of a vehicle if:
•The person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of.08 grams or greater at the time of the test; or
•The person is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of both that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle.
As for penalties, there is extensive and strict sentencing with regard to DUI convictions in Utah. Utah statute 41-6a-503 defines a first time DUI offense as a class B misdemeanor, which comes with a presumptive sentence of:
•up to six months in jail and/or up-to $1000 in fines.
There are circumstances which may allow for the penalties to increase, which include:
•If the person also caused bodily injury to another person.
•If the person had a passenger under 16 years old in the vehicle.
These will tend to be classified as a class A misdemeanor, which comes with a presumptive one year sentence and/or fines of up to $2500. If they happen to have caused serious injury or death to another person as a result of driving in a negligent manner, these charges will be increased to a class 3 felony, which comes with a five-year prison sentence and/or up-to $5000 in fines.
•A jail sentence of 48 consecutive hours or more;
•48 hours or more of community service;
•Home confinement with electronic monitoring;
•Participation in alcohol or drug courses;
•A fine of $700 or more;
•Probation (if there is evidence that the person had a BAC or.16 or higher);
•Ignition Interlock Device; or
•Possible license suspension of up to 120 days.
With these consequences, it is of vital importance to understand your rights while retaining a qualified criminal defense lawyer. To start, you do not have to perform a field sobriety test. A sobriety test is difficult under normal circumstances, so refusing this aspect of the process may keep you from incriminating yourself. Although you can refuse a field sobriety test, refusing to submit to a chemical test (blood, breath, urine) in Utah will come with extreme penalties. The courts in Utah allow evidence of a DUI suspect refusing a chemical test to be admitted at trial. This evidence is likely to do major damage to you as a defendant, considering law enforcement has the right to apply for a warrant in order to force a blood test anyway.
Furthermore, even for a first time DUI offender, simply being charged may lead to a license suspension. This action can be taken before conviction, under a procedure called administrative license suspension. A first offense tends to come with a 90-day suspension, with up to 18 months if a chemical test is refused.
Considering these potential issues, staying up-to-date and informed on your rights, along with the consequences of your actions, will give you a better chance at successfully fighting your DUI charge. Make sure to discuss your situation with a capable criminal defense attorney who understands the laws that you allegedly broke.
DUI Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need help with a DUI charge in Utah, whether it is your first, 2nd DUI, 3rd DUI or other type of crime, we want to help you. Call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We help people with DUI charges against them.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506