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First DUI Rights – How to Challenge your First DUI Arrest

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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 ViolationMin. Jail SentenceFines & FeesLicense SuspensionIID Required
AlabamaNo minimum$600-$2,10090 daysN
Alaska72-hour minimum$1,50090-day minimumY
Arizona24-hour minimum$250+90-360 daysY
ArkansasUp to one year$150-$1,0006 monthsY
California4 days & up to 6 months$1,400-$2,6001-10 monthsOnly in some counties
ColoradoUp to 180 days (DWAI) – Up to 1 year (DUI)Up to $500 for DWAI, up to $1,000 for DUIDUI 9 monthsN
Connecticut2 days & up to 6 months$500-$1,0001 yearN
Delaware0-6 months$500-$1,5001-2 yearsN
D.C.0-90 days$300-$1,1006 monthsN
Florida6-9 months$500-$2,000180-365 daysY
GeorgiaUp to 1 year$300-$1,0001-year maxN
HawaiiNo minimum$150-$1,00090 daysN
IdahoUp to 6 months$1000 max90-180 daysN
IllinoisUp to 1 year$2,500 max1-year minimumY
Indiana60 days to 1 year$500-$5,0002-year maxN
Iowa48 hours to 1 year$625-$1,200180 daysIf BAC is over .10
Kansas48 hours+$750-$1,00030 daysY
KentuckyNo minimum$600-$2,10090 daysN
Louisiana2 days to 6 months$1,00090 daysJudged by individual case
Maine30 days$50090 daysN
MarylandUp to 2 months (DWI), Up to 1 year (DUI)Up to $500 for DWI, up to $1,000 for DUIMinimum of 6 months for either violationN
MassachusettsUp to 30 months$500-$5,0001 yearN
MichiganUp to 93 days$100-$5006 months maxJudged by individual case
MinnesotaUp to 90 days$1,00090 days maxY
MississippiUp to 48 hours$250-$1,00090 daysN
MissouriUp to 6 months$500 max30 daysJudged by individual case
Montana2-180 days$300-$1,0006 monthsJudged by individual case
Nebraska7-60 days$500 max60 days maxN
Nevada2-180 days$400-$1,00090 daysJudged by individual case
New HampshireNo minimum$500-$1,2006 monthsN
New JerseyUp to 30 days$250-$5003-12 monthsJudged by individual case
New MexicoUp to 90 days$500 max1-year maxY
New YorkNo minimum$500-$1,0006 monthsY
North Carolina1 day to 12 months depending upon level of offense$200 for level 5 offense60-365 daysN
North DakotaNo minimum$500-$75091-180 daysN
Ohio3-180 days$250-$1,000Minimum 6 months, maximum 3 yearsN
Oklahoma5 days with a 1 year maximum$1,000 max30 daysN
Oregon48 hours or 80 hours of community service$1,000-$6,2501 yearY
Pennsylvanian/a$300No minimumYes if chemical test is refused
Rhode IslandUp to 1 year$100-$5002-18 monthsN
South Carolina2-90 days$400-$1,0006 monthsN
South DakotaUp to 1 year$1,00030-365 daysN
Tennessee2 days with an 11-month maximum$350-$1,5001 yearY
Texas3-180 days$2,000 max90-365 daysN
UtahMinimum of 48 hoursMinimum of $700120 daysN
VermontUp to 2 years$750 max90 daysN
VirginiaMinimum of 5 daysMinimum of $2501 yearIf BAC is .15 or higher
Washington24-hour minimum with maximum of 1 year$865.50-$5,00090-365 daysY
West VirginiaUp to 6 months$100-$1,00015-45 daysJudged by individual case
Wisconsinn/a$150-$3006-9 monthsN
WyomingUp to 6 months$750 max90 daysIf BAC is .15 or higher