If the police suspect you of having had too much to drink before getting on the road, they will pull you over and subject you to tests to determine your level of intoxication and press charges if found to be intoxicated.
When facing DUI charges for the first time, you may think it is like any other driving violation where you will only need to pay a ticket, but it is not so. DUI is among the few driving violations that are treated as crimes. This means you get criminally prosecuted and, if convicted, get criminal penalties and a criminal record.
What Is DUI?
You probably know what driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is already. However, you may not know the nitty-gritty of it, and that’s what this article seeks to explore.
In some states, DUI goes under different names, such as DWI and OWI, but all refer to driving a car while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Most DUI arrests are based on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol, but the police can test for drugs if they believe you may also have other drugs in their system.
Most states have a 0.08 percent BAC limit for drivers, which is approximately three to four servings of beer in one hour for an average person. However, the police can still arrest you for DUI while under this limit if they feel you are too impaired to operate a vehicle safely.
Is DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
A DUI conviction can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. In most cases, a first conviction will result in a misdemeanor with penalties that include relatively short jail terms or probation, fines, and the loss of driving privileges for a relatively short time.
Second and consecutive convictions or first-time convictions where the offense resulted in injury or death are felonies in almost all states. Felonies attract stricter penalties and can see the offender spend years in jail, pay relatively high fines, and have their driving privileges suspended for longer. For example, a second, third, and fourth conviction can result in jail times of up to 16 months, four years, and 10 years, respectively.
What a Conviction Means
A DUI conviction becomes an indelible stain on your record that’s visible to potential employers and can ruin your chances of getting a job.
“A DUI conviction shouldn’t make someone unemployable. The aftermath of a DUI conviction can be hard on you and your family, but we want to help you keep your livelihood,” says white-collar defense attorney Adam Rossen of Rossen Law Firm.
If the position involves being issued a company car, a DUI conviction may make an employer hesitate. Your lawyer may help you communicate with an employer and defined your case.
Besides the criminal record, you stand a high chance of losing driving privileges. Driving is critical for going to work, conducting business, dropping and picking up kids from school, and running errands, meaning a withdrawal of your privileges can become a significant inconvenience.
Lastly, a DUI conviction will almost always increase insurance premium rates upon reinstating your driving privileges. This increment can be up to four times the original cost in some states.
Given these consequences, you must not take DUI charges lightly, so get a lawyer. Even when you cannot afford one, you will be better off working with a court-appointed public defender.