DUI is a criminal offense with potentially heavy consequences. However, many defendants aren’t sure of what to expect these days seeing as the court’s perception of DUI cases has changed slightly recently. Also, you might wonder if being a first-time offender could make things any easier for you.
The truth is, DUI has become a huge deal in most states in the country, and you could get arrested on the spot. How big of a trouble could you get afterward? Understanding the subsequent series of events could help you analyze your chances of getting freedom from a DUI charge.
That’s why we’ve highlighted what happens when you get a DUI charge. Bear in mind that these events may change your legal and personal life permanently.
- Getting Arrested
Suppose you’re interested in knowing what happens when you get a DUI, note that an officer will arrest you if they have enough probable cause that you were driving under the influence. Usually, that would mean placing you in a police vehicle and taking you to the nearest police station where they’d take your fingerprints and photograph.
You might get rattled by the experience if it’s your first time. However, you could get released if someone comes along to pay your bail bonds. However, it’s worth mentioning that a growing number of jurisdictions in the states have made it mandatory for first or repeat DUI offenders to serve jail time.
So, getting arrested could mean spending at least two days in prison as a first-time offender. It could be much longer when you have a previous DUI record. You must remember that jail time – however little – has lasting consequences on your civil record.
- Defending Yourself in Court
Naturally, the next event after getting arrested for DUI is a court appearance. The arresting officer issues you a court summons or ticket explicitly telling you the hearing date and time in which you must appear before the court to defend the DUI charge.
At that point, it’s best to get a competent drunk driving attorney who can plead your case and use the many legal defenses available to get you free from the charges.
Furthermore, it may interest you to know that pleading not guilty in court could set you up on the wrong foot, especially if the arresting officer appears in court with video evidence of you failing a field sobriety test. Try to follow your attorney’s counsel on the matter, to know what next step is the most logical to take.
- Losing Your Driver’s License
In the states, a DUI conviction automatically leads to your driver’s license getting suspended or revoked entirely. These happen when you get a DUI, regardless of whether it’s your first time or a repeat sentence.
Some jurisdictions could suspend your license even before you appear in court for a possible sentence. However, it’s often on grounds that you refuse to take a field sobriety test or submit to a blood or breathalyzer test by the arresting officer.
- Paying Multiple Fines
One of the many outcomes of your DUI sentence is the multiple fines you could pay over the next period. Typically, all states in the country have laws that stipulate the base and ceiling on DUI fines. However, it’s best to prepare as much as possible for what happens when you get a DUI. Courts tend to hand out the highest possible fine, which is more likely when other circumstances are in consideration.
For instance, did you damage property or injure someone at the point of your DUI arrest? Such scenarios could drive your fines up significantly. Even worse, you may have to cover the court cost throughout your court hearing in certain jurisdictions.
A professional DUI defense attorney could argue you out of most of the fines but it helps to still expect to pay the fees one way or another. That’s especially when it’s most likely that you’d eventually get a DUI conviction.
- Paying More Auto Insurance Premiums
Once you get caught in a DUI rap, the court aims to penalize you as much as it can legally. As such, most state courts would direct you to pick up a special insurance package once you get a DUI conviction.
The SR-22 insurance policy is mandatory for all offenders driving under the influence. It becomes necessary that you have it before you can resume driving a car. It bears mentioning that SR-22 insurance premiums are expensive, often doubling regular insurance packages.
- Serving Probation
If you get lucky not to get an outright jail term sentence, the court might put you on probation. While it might seem a lighter fix than going to prison – and it is – you may still serve jail time if you break probationary rules. Typically, the judge determines the period and terms of the probation and is specific to your DUI charge.
However, serving probation costs lots of money, regardless of the terms and duration. That’s because you’d have to cover the expenses throughout the session. Generally, it’s a monthly fee to meet the administrative and supervisory costs incurred during your probation sentence.
A top DUI attorney could come in to secure a waiver for you on the cost. They could argue some defenses like the integrity of the field sobriety test you took. In some cases, your attorney could challenge the probable cause that the arresting officer had. If successful, the judge could drop the probation sentence against you entirely, or modify the terms so you don’t have to pay too much.
Getting caught driving under the influence could set off a series of unfavorable events in your life. That’s because all states deem it a crime and would give little respite even to first-time offenders.
The list given above is some of the immediate actions and events that you can expect upon getting arrested for a DUI. They are by no means exhaustive, and you could have further incidents like DMV visits and a compulsory enrolment in an alcohol school.
Overall, it’s crucial to seek and hire a drunk driving defense attorney who can try to beat down the DUI conviction sentences or get you out of it entirely.