Driving under the influence is a crime, but the idea of getting arrested for DUI for the very first time may not faze many people. After all, it’s a first-time offense, and the law is quite lenient on first-time offenders, right?
While most states categorize first-time DUIs as a misdemeanor, the consequences, both short-term and long-term, remain serious. If ever you’re arrested for a DUI, you will need to fully understand not just the punishments that come with a DUI conviction, but its possible long-term impact on your life as well.
Here are the things that will happen when you’re arrested for DUI for the first time.
You will be booked
As with any other crime, you will be brought to the nearest police station or jail, where your mugshots and fingerprints will be taken. If you’re allowed to post bail, and someone pays for it, you can be released immediately.
You’ll be ordered to appear in court
A ticket or a summons will be handed to you at the time of your arrest to inform you of the date you must show up in court for your DUI hearing.
Your license will be suspended
Depending on the state, your driver’s license will be suspended immediately after the arrest if you say no to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer or blood test, or it will come as part of your sentence once you’re convicted of DUI.
You can go to jail
Some people believe that first-time DUI convicts are only given probation. The truth is, jail terms for first-time DUI offenders are now mandatory in an increasing number of states.
As first-offense DUI is classified as a misdemeanor in all states, a conviction could mean up to six months in jail. The sentence, however, may be lengthened if there are aggravating circumstances. Typically, however, first-time DUI offenders serve shorter jail terms and spend the rest of the time on probation or performing community service.
You will pay fines
The fines that courts hand down for DUI convictions may vary from state to state. For a first-time DUI offender, you could be looking at fines of up to $1,800 depending on the state where the offense was committed.
Your car insurance rates will soar
Expect to see a sharp increase in your car insurance premiums once your provider learns of your DUI arrest and conviction. The hike could be a few hundred dollars, but it’s not unheard of for insurance rate hikes to reach thousands of dollars. Finding a car insurance company at an affordable rate is going to be tough if you have a DUI conviction haunting you.
You have to undergo an alcohol and drug education program
A first-time DUI convict often gets ordered by the court to complete an alcohol and drug education program. Finishing this program is typically a prerequisite to getting one’s driver’s license reinstated.
Under the program, you have to attend hours of drunk driving prevention classes and pay for them as well. Your drinking habits will also be assessed under this program, with a trained counselor performing the evaluation to determine if you are suffering from alcohol abuse disorder.
Once the evaluation shows that you have an alcohol problem, the counselor may recommend a court-approved alcohol treatment program before your driving privileges are restored.
Does a DUI conviction mean you have a substance abuse problem?
The legal and financial consequences of getting arrested and convicted for a DUI are bad enough, but one thing first-time DUI convicts should think about is what it might be telling them about their own health and well-being.
If you find yourself at the receiving end of a first-time DUI, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a substance abuse problem. It’s possible that you are just a light to moderate drinker who made a bad decision to drink and drive. Nevertheless, a DUI arrest and conviction is a serious sign that you need to contemplate your alcohol consumption.
It would be great if you, like most drivers arrested for a first-time DUI, make adjustments to your behavior regarding drinking and driving. However, if you continue to drink and drive and become a repeat offender despite the negative consequences, then you are waving a big, red flag. While it’s not irrefutable proof of addiction, it’s a tell-tale sign that you may have an alcohol problem on your hands, and you will likely need professional help.
Get the services of an experienced DUI attorney
Should you ever get arrested on suspicion of DUI, waste no time in hiring a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer to represent you. As a specialist in laws that covers driving under the influence offenses, a DUI lawyer is the best-equipped person to help you get the best possible result for your first-time DUI case.