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What You Need to Know About Your First DUI Offense
Your first DUI offense is a big deal. It’s easy to think that your first offense will give you a shorter sentence than a repeat offense, and sometimes this is true. However, it’s important to understand that there is no requirement for leniency on the part of the judge. In fact, it’s possible to face severe consequences even if you have never gotten in trouble with the law before. Dealing with a criminal charge involving a DUI can be incredibly challenging. You may feel stressed, anxious, or even confused at the legal process. Your first step should be to hire a great criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help you every step of the way. It’s also important to understand exactly what the consequences of a DUI might be.
First, make sure you understand what a DUI actually is. Simply put, a DUI means “driving under the influence.” This generally means that you drank alcohol before driving, although in some cases, a DUI may include medication. This is a dangerous decision to make because both alcohol and prescription medication or drugs can impact your ability to see, make decisions, and react appropriately while driving. According to the CDC, in 2016, 28% of all automobile deaths involved alcohol. If you are caught driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could be charged with driving under the influence.
It’s also important to understand that while a first offense sometimes provides room for leniency, this is not always the case. Typically, your first DUI is considered to be a misdemeanor offense. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may have to pay a fine or do community service. You might go on probation. Typically, your license will be suspended for a period of time, as well. Understand, however, that if you were driving with a child in the car, the charges may be more severe. In some cases, you may have to serve jail time even for your first offense, and repeat offenses are always punished more harshly.
A DUI conviction can be financially challenging. You may miss work while you are meeting with your attorney, serving jail time, or making court appearances. This can result in lost wages. You may also face higher insurance rates after your DUI. This is because your insurance company may feel you are at higher risk for getting in an accident. Additionally, a DUI conviction typically includes a fine of some sort. This can be quite high depending on the conviction.
You don’t have to face your DUI alone. Whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or you were actually driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, an attorney can advise you how to proceed. More importantly, they can represent you and ensure you are treated fairly during this time.