If you have been arrested or are formally facing charges for driving under the influence, you likely feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Moreover, if this is your first experience with the legal system, you may be confused about what will happen in your case. This article answers two frequently asked questions about driving under the influence.
1. What is the first thing I should do after I have been arrested or charged with driving under the influence? Without question, the first thing that you should consider after being arrested or charged with driving under the influence is hiring an experienced and competent criminal defense attorney to represent you. An experienced criminal defense attorney in your area will know the law of your state and will know how best to mount a defense for the claims against you. Moreover, a competent attorney in your area should know the court system well where your case will be heard. Your attorney should know the judges and the prosecutors, and should be able to help you with an negotiation you need to do regarding your charges.
2. What kind of penalties am I facing if I am convicted of driving under the influence? Driving under the influence is a crime and can carry hefty penalties including jail time, expensive fines, and the suspension or loss of your license. The exact penalty that you face depends on several factors:
- The law of your state: Each state has its own law regarding driving under the influence, and any other crime. Your state will likely have specifically outlined minimum or maximum sentencing requirements in the event of your conviction.
- The specific facts and circumstances of your case: If your blood alcohol level was extremely high, or if someone was injured in an accident caused while you were driving under the influence, the severity of your potential sentencing will increase. Hurting someone in an accident while you were driving under the influence will likely result in a felony charge which can result in years’ of jail time, fines, loss of license and other future repercussions such as loss of voting rights and loss of access to public housing.
- Whether you have previously been convicted of driving under the influence: In every state, your first driving under the influence conviction is treated as a misdemeanor. Even then, however, your misdemeanor DUI charge may still result in up to six months’ of jail time. If it is not your first DUI conviction, your crime may be treated as a felony and could result in more significant jail time, up to several years. Each time you are convicted, the penalties will generally increase: longer potential jail time, more expensive fines, and higher probability of losing your driver’s’ license.
Remember, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself and make sure that you get a fair outcome at trial is to hire an experienced DWI lawyer Salt Lake City, UT trusts as early as possible in the life of your case. There is no substitute for having a skilled attorney advocate in your corner.
Thank you to our generous contributors at the law offices of Rasmussen & Miner for the above information.