Our readers often ask, “Is law lenient on first offense DUI?”, “What are the costs and penalties of first offense DUI?”, “Can a first offense DUI be beaten?” and “How long do I lose my license after my first offense DUI?
Are you also facing a first offense DUI? If Yes, You will find all your answers in this article.
Our panel of DUI lawyers has also created a list of DUI/DWI FAQs, You must go-through it once to have a detailed understanding of what to expect in a DUI charge.
All states consider first offense DUI a ‘Misdemeanor’. The subsequent DUIs are treated as felony, and attract harsher punishments.
However, Even the first offense DUI/DWI or the first time DUI/DWI comes with a lot of serious present and future consequences.
The first offense DUI hurts you a lot: It burns a lot of your money (First offense DUI costs a lot of money, say about $6000 to $10000). You lose your freedom (First offense DUI can result in a jail term up-to 6 months). You lose your driving privileges (Your Driver’s license may get suspended for up to 1 year) and so-on. In the midst of all this, losing your mind is most-obvious.
More than 2 million US citizens were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in 2019. Many of them are currently fighting their DUI, and some of them are even in jails.
How to Reduce Cost and Penalties of a First Offense DUI?
Arrest and Booking In case of First Offense DUI
If cops pull you over on a suspicion of drunk-driving. They do some field sobriety tests and/or Breath-Analyzer test on you.
If they find you intoxicated, they handcuff you and take you to the station. They do some more tests at the station, i.e. Blood Alcohol Test and Chemical Tests to further confirm that you were driving under the influence.
Cops strip off everything except your clothes and put you into a holding cell.
The booking report generally reads: Suspect Tom Nichols. Inventory black leather wallet, containing identification, two credit cards, and $145; 4-door black Nissan Altima, impounded.
Policemen do their routine paperwork. Sometimes take your statements and send (mostly on email) the charge-sheet to the local District Attorney (DA)’s office.
The arresting officer and District Attorney (DA) discuss your case on phone, and then DA fixes a bail amount for you.
You are allowed to make a call. Someone can come, deposit the bail amount and take you home.
If you are arrested for your first offense DUI. You are advised to co-operate with your arresting officer.
If your arresting officer is some-what lenient on you, you can get a lesser charge on your charge-sheet. He may also hurry up the process of the bail and the release. The bail amount can also be set to the lowest possible etc.
You should also politely refuse to give any statements. You can chose to give it later, in the presence of your DUI lawyer.
Hire a Lawyer, who is local and First Offense DUI specialist.
A DUI lawyer can be a huge factor in the outcome of your DUI.
Do you know? 90% of people who are facing a first offense DUI hire the first lawyer that they come-across.
Why He needs to be a First Offense DUI Expert? A DUI lawyer with just 5 years’ experience and 50 DUIs under his belt, is much better than a criminal lawyer who has 15 years’ experience and has dealt with just 5 DUIs in his career.
A First offense DUI lawyer should know about the tests and procedures, even better than then officers who have administered them.
He tries to find faults in the way the tests were conducted and in the way procedures were followed. A small mistake on the part of the authorities can help you beat you first offense DUI.
Why your first offense DUI lawyer has to be local? DUI laws differ state-to-state. Many a times, people end up hiring a DUI lawyer who is a big shot in some other state, but hasn’t practiced much in your district or state.
Local first offense DUI lawyers, over the time, develop good relationships with District Attorneys (DA), prosecutors, policemen, and even with judges. It’s of so much advantage to your case. You may get a good plea-bargaining which can reduce your DUI to reckless driving or other lesser charge.
Do you know? All prosecutors are over-worked and Over-burdened and 90% of First Offense DUIs don’t go for trials.
You must go through our free guide on how to choose a lawyer for your first offense DUI. This is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you choose the best DUI lawyer and to beat your DUI.
Court fines and Penalties for First Offense DUI
Court fines, in the case of first offense DUI, range from $400 to $1000. All states have laws that set minimum and maximum fine amount. Fines can also increase in some circumstances i.e. if any property was damaged, any person was injured, or if any child was risked by your drunk driving.
Court, many a times act lenient, if you cooperate with the authorities i.e. Policemen, District Attorney (DA), Prosecution and Court Officials. Your compliance to court orders shows that you are a law-abiding citizen and this first offense DUI may even be your last one.
You may not have to do ‘Jail Term’ for your First Offense DUI
First Offense DUIs don’t generally have Jail terms. Even if there’s a jail time, it’s hardly for one or two days, that can be done even on weekends.
However, the issue with jail term is, It stays on your records for your whole life. Even one or two days’ jail time will keep haunting you in one way or another.
It’s always better to hire an experienced and expert first offense DUI lawyer. Your lawyer, using his local connections and reach, can settle your case even before a trial.
It’s very common to see that good DWI lawyers do a very effective plea-bargaining in your favor. They, very often, get your DUIs converted to much lesser charge such as reckless driving.
Suspension of Driving License in First Offense DUI
Irrespective of which state you are in, you lose your driving privileges even for a first-offense DUI. The time of suspension defers case to case, and state to state.
Some states issue you hardship license that allows you to drive for a few specified purposes i.e. going to work, dropping kids to school etc.
Your refusal to field sobriety tests, breath analyzer tests, or blood alcohol tests gives right to the authorities to suspend your license immediately, even before you face the court.
A lot of first offense DUI lawyers suggest their clients to enroll for DUI classes or alcohol treatment classes even before the court judgment. This gives you a mitigating factor in the court sentencing, the presiding judge can significantly reduce your license suspension period.
If the court does not sentence a jail term. It might give you a probation. The terms of the probation depend on your sentencing judge.
The common probation terms include monthly or quarterly fines, which you need to deposit to the court. The court also appoints a probationary officer, you may have to report to him/her periodically.
Some people, even in their first offense DUIs, had to install an Ignition Interlock Device. This is like a breath-analyzer machine wired to the ignition of your vehicle. If this device detects a high level of alcohol in your breath, it locks the ignition of your vehicle.
You should adhere to all terms and conditions of your probation. Any probation violation (also called as PV) may result in huge fines or even an arrest warrant against you
Alcohol Treatments at DUI schools.
Many first offense DUI convicts have to attend mandatory assessments, education and treatments at DUI Schools.
Generally, in first offense DUI, Court orders ADETS (Alcohol Drug Education Traffic School) Education. You need to complete it in 16 hours, and minimum 5 days.
However, not everyone qualifies for the ADETS, many people have to go-through longer and stricter alcohol treatments. Some of the criteria to qualify for ADETS are:
- It’s your first DUI/DWI, You have had no past DUI/DWI on your record.
- Your BAC level was less than 0.14, at the time of the arrest.
- You didn’t oppose to any chemical alcohol tests.
- You met the criteria of level 0.5 (Early Intervention).
We advise you to go through our FAQs on DUI Schools. This is a comprehensive guide of all that you need to know about DUI classes, DUI Schools and Alcohol and Drug Treatments.
Young Offender’s First time DUI.
Even if it’s a first offense DUI, Law is even stricter on young offenders who have not yet completed the legal age of drinking i.e. 21 years.
If cops arrest a minor, under the age of 21 for drunk driving, he/she has to face two separate and serious charges. One for breaking the law of drinking before the prescribed age, and the second for drunk driving.
The permissible alcohol levels or the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.8. However, in case of underage drivers, many states reduce it by .02 points, making it just 0.6.
Many states punish minors as adults in case of drunk driving cases.
If you fall in this category of underage drinking. You need to immediately seek help from a DUI lawyer. The only way you can get a respite is, if your lawyer uses his local relationships with prosecutors and cops and they drop or reduce your charges.
Most states treat First offense DUI as misdemeanor and all subsequent DUIs as felonies. Still, the consequences of first offense DUI can have serious short-term and long-term impact on a person’s life.
We always recommend to have a good DUI lawyer by your side.
Law, unlike other courses, doesn’t teach any specializations. A DUI lawyer and Divorce lawyer may have been classmates, who studied the exact same subjects. What sets them apart is, their experience and success rate in a particular branch of law.
It’s always better to hire a DUI lawyer, who is local. This will give you numerous advantages. A local lawyer uses his connections with policemen and District Attorneys in your favor.
You must have read above that, 90% of DUIs don’t go for trials. 60% people have their charges dropped to lesser offenses in plea-bargains.
If you are facing a first offense DUI, you definitely need to go through our DWI/DUI FAQs.
Our DUI team has compiled a list of DUI laws of all states, you should check DUI laws of your state here.
We also recommend you to go through DUI information available on California government’s DUI website.
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