According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2016. But that number represents a mere 1% of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults on an annual basis. Those statistics might make you believe that driving drunk isn’t a serious offense. But on the contrary, being arrested for a DUI can have drastic consequences for your future — even if it’s your first time being in trouble with the law.
This crime may be common, but that doesn’t mean you’ll walk out with a slap on the wrist. In fact, just being arrested for a DUI — never mind being convicted for it — can impact your ability to drive, keep your job, and maintain financial or emotional stability in your life.
What Are the Penalties of a First DUI?
A lot of people assume that their first DUI will be “only” a misdemeanor. In some cases, that will prove to be true. But even if your crime is not considered to be a felony, you could still face harsh penalties. No one really walks away scot-free. Check out the blog post on our website that covers the sentencing possibilities for a first time DUI conviction in Colorado.
Your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked; in some cases, just refusing to comply with field sobriety tests might automatically cause you to have your license taken away for the next year. That can make it extremely difficult for you to get to school or to work, as well as provide transportation for your family.
You’ll also have to deal with steep fines, which can place an undue financial burden on you for the foreseeable future. You may also be responsible for paying for license reinstatement, ignition interlock installment, court fees, higher auto insurance rates, alcohol treatment classes, and more. If you’ve chosen to hire DUI attorneys (and you should), you may also incur costs associated with their services.
It’s important to note that you could face jail time for a first-time DUI offense. If your BAC levels were extremely high or you were involved in an accident that caused serious bodily injury or death to another person, your crime could be elevated to a felony. Each state has different laws pertaining to drunk driving first offenses, but you should never assume that your lack of criminal record will keep you out of trouble.
Are DUI Attorneys Really Necessary For a First Offense?
Ultimately, the answer is yes. While you do have the freedom to represent yourself in a court of law, no one would ever recommend that you take this course of action. The best thing you can do to protect your rights and increase your chances of a favorable outcome is to hire a DUI lawyer. Your DUI attorneys can determine the validity of evidence being used against you and craft a defense on your behalf.
DUI law can be extremely complex. You may be a fan of Court TV, but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert. It’s always best to have reputable help from a legal representative, no matter the circumstances of your case or how short your criminal record may be. For more information on how our firm can help you after a DUI arrest, please contact us today.