First DUI Offense: What Happens For Your First DUI?

First DUI Charges can be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. Learn what specific DUI arrest details will determine your defense strategies and clear your record.

First DUI Convictions Will Show Up On Your Record

The fact of the matter is that an offender’s first DUI conviction, even a misdemeanor DUI, not only shows up on their record, but it is also the reason many people lose out on the chance to rent or buy a home, miss job opportunities, or become ineligible for scholarships and other types of financial aid. The best chance of ensuring this does not happen to you is getting your charges dismissed or reduced.

Police may have honorable intentions in trying to keep drunk drivers off the road, but for first-time DUI offenders, they can sometimes be too harsh or even use scare tactics to get drivers to submit to breathalyzer testing or participate in field sobriety tests, which have led to many innocent drivers being stuck with DUI arrests on their record. This is why you need sound legal representation by your side, so you have the best chance of walking away clean.

Penalties for First DUI Offenses

If you get picked up for a first DUI, it’s not unfair to assume that you will receive probation if you are convicted. While this does happen with most first-time DUI offenders, the court may assign other penalties as conditions of that probation, some of which include the following:

  • Possible time in jail, depending on the laws of your state
  • A driver’s license suspension
  • Fees and fines
  • Raised car insurance rates
  • Community service
  • Mandatory attendance in a drug/alcohol treatment program or DUI school
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle

Even misdemeanor DUI offenses in most states will require that you serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence, even if it’s only for a few days. While states may differ on jail sentences, they virtually all will suspend your driver’s license for a specific amount of time. Also, depending on your criminal and driving histories, it’s possible you might qualify for a hardship driver’s license or an occupational license, so you can drive yourself to school or work.

Aggravating Factors for First DUIs

In general, a first DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor, leading to community service, fines, a license suspension, and probation in many cases. However, there are other factors that can affect the nature or level of your charge, leading to greater penalties and sentences. Several possible aggravating factors include the following:

  • Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 0.15 percent
  • Being involved in an accident
  • Causing property damage
  • Causing bodily injury
  • Refusing a chemical test to determine BAC
  • Having one or more children under 14 years of age in the vehicle
  • Having a past DUI conviction within the previous 10 years
  • Being on probation
  • Being under 21 years of age
  • Driving on a revoked or suspended license
  • Excessive speeding
  • Reckless driving

As another example, if a driver has an open container of alcohol in their vehicle, they might still be charged with only a misdemeanor DUI, but the subsequent fine or jail sentence may be increased. If there were children in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, however, a driver could see their charge elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony, even if the driver had no prior DUI convictions.

The administrative element of DUI charges is also something first-time offenders need to consider, often seen through the loss of driving privileges due to a license suspension. For instance, most U.S. states will suspend a driver’s license automatically up to a year if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, and this suspension is separate from the one you would receive later for a DUI conviction.

Conditions for a Driver’s License Suspension

To get your driver’s license back quickly after losing it to a DUI conviction, it’s likely you will need to deal with a criminal law judge and an administrative law judge. If you are caught driving out on the road while you have a driver’s license suspension, you will only find yourself facing new fines and charges.

Additionally, some states may also require that drivers install and then pay for an IID while their case is pending or after their initial license suspension. After a state-designated IID installer has installed it in your vehicle, the IID will run as high as $200 a month to maintain. Failing to fulfill this condition could result in your bond getting revoked, thus sending you back to jail.

How First DUI Changes Car Insurance and Employment

When a first-time DUI arrest, charge, or conviction goes on your record, the level of risk you present for potential employers and insurance companies increases significantly. Because a DUI becomes part of your criminal history, employers can learn about it due to any runs on criminal backgrounds that they make. Some employers will choose not to employ you, because they see you as a liability and a safety risk or because there is a chance of their insurance rates potentially increasing.

Because of the elevated risk you present as a DUI offender, you should also get ready for your car insurance rates to increase in the aftermath of your conviction. The logic behind this is that because you have proven yourself to be a dangerous driver, the insurance company must do what it can to protect itself against the liability you present as a past DUI offender and as a potential future DUI offender.

If you ended up in an accident because of a DUI, and the offense was raised to a felony charge, the insurance company might not cover the costs of the accident. Most insurance policies do not cover damages that occurred during the commission of a felony, such as with felony DUI offenses.

If you want the best chance of getting your first DUI charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge, such as wet reckless or reckless driving, don’t rely on the public defender—you need a solid, experienced DUI attorney on the case to get you out of the courtroom and back into your normal life.

First DUI Offense Penalties By State

State of Violation Min. Jail Sentence Fines & Fees License Suspension IID Required
Alabama No minimum $600-$2,100 90 days N
Alaska 72-hour minimum $1,500 90-day minimum Y
Arizona 24-hour minimum $250+ 90-360 days Y
Arkansas Up to one year $150-$1,000 6 months Y
California 4 days & up to 6 months $1,400-$2,600 1-10 months Only in some counties
Colorado Up to 180 days (DWAI) – Up to 1 year (DUI) Up to $500 for DWAI, up to $1,000 for DUI DUI 9 months N
Connecticut 2 days & up to 6 months $500-$1,000 1 year N
Delaware 0-6 months $500-$1,500 1-2 years N
D.C. 0-90 days $300-$1,100 6 months N
Florida 6-9 months $500-$2,000 180-365 days Y
Georgia Up to 1 year $300-$1,000 1-year max N
Hawaii No minimum $150-$1,000 90 days N
Idaho Up to 6 months $1000 max 90-180 days N
Illinois Up to 1 year $2,500 max 1-year minimum Y
Indiana 60 days to 1 year $500-$5,000 2-year max N
Iowa 48 hours to 1 year $625-$1,200 180 days If BAC is over .10
Kansas 48 hours+ $750-$1,000 30 days Y
Kentucky No minimum $600-$2,100 90 days N
Louisiana 2 days to 6 months $1,000 90 days Judged by individual case
Maine 30 days $500 90 days N
Maryland Up to 2 months (DWI), Up to 1 year (DUI) Up to $500 for DWI, up to $1,000 for DUI Minimum of 6 months for either violation N
Massachusetts Up to 30 months $500-$5,000 1 year N
Michigan Up to 93 days $100-$500 6 months max Judged by individual case
Minnesota Up to 90 days $1,000 90 days max Y
Mississippi Up to 48 hours $250-$1,000 90 days N
Missouri Up to 6 months $500 max 30 days Judged by individual case
Montana 2-180 days $300-$1,000 6 months Judged by individual case
Nebraska 7-60 days $500 max 60 days max N
Nevada 2-180 days $400-$1,000 90 days Judged by individual case
New Hampshire No minimum $500-$1,200 6 months N
New Jersey Up to 30 days $250-$500 3-12 months Judged by individual case
New Mexico Up to 90 days $500 max 1-year max Y
New York No minimum $500-$1,000 6 months Y
North Carolina 1 day to 12 months depending upon level of offense $200 for level 5 offense 60-365 days N
North Dakota No minimum $500-$750 91-180 days N
Ohio 3-180 days $250-$1,000 Minimum 6 months, maximum 3 years N
Oklahoma 5 days with a 1 year maximum $1,000 max 30 days N
Oregon 48 hours or 80 hours of community service $1,000-$6,250 1 year Y
Pennsylvania n/a $300 No minimum Yes if chemical test is refused
Rhode Island Up to 1 year $100-$500 2-18 months N
South Carolina 2-90 days $400-$1,000 6 months N
South Dakota Up to 1 year $1,000 30-365 days N
Tennessee 2 days with an 11-month maximum $350-$1,500 1 year Y
Texas 3-180 days $2,000 max 90-365 days N
Utah Minimum of 48 hours Minimum of $700 120 days N
Vermont Up to 2 years $750 max 90 days N
Virginia Minimum of 5 days Minimum of $250 1 year If BAC is .15 or higher
Washington 24-hour minimum with maximum of 1 year $865.50-$5,000 90-365 days Y
West Virginia Up to 6 months $100-$1,000 15-45 days Judged by individual case
Wisconsin n/a $150-$300 6-9 months N
Wyoming Up to 6 months $750 max 90 days If BAC is .15 or higher

What Will Happen For Your First DUI?

  1. Your license will be suspended within 30 days unless you request a hearing
  2. Only an experienced attorney can request a hearing at the DMV to save your license.
  3. A public defender will not get your penalties reduced or dismissed
  4. Fines may cost well over $10,000 unless your defense can reduce or eliminate the charges
  5. There will be mandatory jail time in some states unless an attorney fights the charges.

How We Can Help

Here at DUIRights.com we specialize in looking at your specific circumstances involved in your DUI arrest and challenging all aspects of the DUI evidence. Almost every DUI arrest has in some way violated a person’s DUI Rights. This is not to say that every DUI offender is innocent but instead offer the proper justification based on more than just DUI police reports and sobriety tests. Each individual has the right to a second chance without being labeled unfairly from a DUI charge.

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"Was told I had failed a field sobriety test after barely swerving in low visibility across an almost non existent road line on a run down main road while trying to take an extremely drunk person home. An officer on scene made it seem as though I had no options, and another at the station continuously verbally abused me for a few minutes despite repeated requests for him to please refrain from profanity. The attorney was able to prove the officer was unfit to make the arrest and the case was dismissed!"

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