You’ve had a drink or two more than you planned. Still, you think you’re ok to drive. That is, until you see the red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. At that moment, you’d do anything to undo your poor decision. But it’s too late.
The first thing you should realize after you get a DUI is that it could have been far worse. If your driving was erratic enough to catch the attention of a police officer, you could have caused a very serious accident.
Although things aren’t good for you at the moment, you will make it through – and never make this mistake again. Here’s what happens when you get a DUI:
- You’ll get arrested – After failing a sobriety test or breathalyzer test, the officer will issue a summons or ticket with a court date. He or she will then slap the cuffs on and take you back to the station. You’ll have to stand for a mugshot and be fingerprinted. Depending on your state’s laws, you may then get to go home if someone comes to post your bail. Some states have laws that require you to sober up before you go home.
- Consult with a DUI attorney – There are many ways to beat a DUI charge. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will know how to evaluate your case to look for ways to get critical evidence tossed out or the case dismissed. Most attorneys will give you a free initial consultation to see if you have basis to fight the DUI charge.
- You’ll lose driving privileges – Regardless of your driving or criminal history, expect to lose your driving privileges for a period of time. In some states, you may receive a hardship license that allows you to drive to school and/or work. Your driving privileges will typically be revoked in court, but if you refused a sobriety test or breathalyzer, they might be revoked immediately.
- Pay a fine – If you’re convicted of driving while under the influence, you will receive a sentence that will most definitely include a fine. There are minimum and maximum penalties that vary by state, but these could be enhanced if there are additional charges.
- Go to jail – As laws become stricter nationwide, jail time is becoming mandatory for even first-time offenders in many states. If you’re a first-time offender, your jail time may only span a day or two. Still, you should expect to serve some time in jail. If there are any charges above the DUI, such as damaged property or personal injury, you may be looking at a steeper sentence.
- Complete probation – even if you’ve only spent one day in jail, you should expect to adhere to probationary terms that will be set by the sentencing judge. If you don’t meet your outlined terms, you’ll be sent back to jail.
After you’ve completed probation, or maybe during, you may also be required to take a drunk driving education program before you can get your license back. You will also be required to pay higher car insurance premiums after a DUI.
A DUI could be the result of one poor choice by an otherwise responsible person, but it could also be an indication that there’s a problem. If you have more than one DUI or are in the habit of driving under the influence, you may need to evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Accepting you have a problem is the first step to getting help.
Always remember that driving drunk is never your only option. Rideshares, public transportation or even sleeping it off in your car are all better options than getting a conviction.