First DUI Offense
By: Chris Kramer
Don't assume that just because this is your first DUI charge you will get off lightly.
Most states consider even a first DUI a serious offense that carries serious penalties and consequences. The penalties for your first DUI will take into account several factors. In addition to state mandates for first DUI penalties, most states will increase the penalties if one or more of the following "aggravating factors" are present:
- Wreck causing injury or death
- Presence of a minor in the vehicle
- Driving with a suspended license
- Blood alcohol content above a set level, such as .15
Suspended Driver's License
Most states first DUI penalties included a mandatory suspended license. The length of driver's license suspension varies, but there is typically a fee for license reinstatement after the suspension period is over. Auto insurance rates may also increase dramatically after a DUI conviction and proof of insurance is usually required to have a driver's license reinstated.
Mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices
Many states have toughened DUI laws and now require ignition interlock devices to be installed after your first DUI conviction. As of Jan. 1, 2009, these states require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders:
Ignition interlock devices require that a breath test must be passed before a vehicle will start. Drivers must then pass additional tests at random intervals while driving. The expense of installation and maintenance for ignition interlock devices is generally the responsibility of the offender. This can make a first DUI much more costly as the ignition interlock fees are in addition to any fines or other expenses associated with the DUI arrest and conviction.
Minimum Jail Time
Many states have a mandatory minimum jail sentence for DUI offenders. For the first DUI, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is typically anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days. In some cases, part of the jail sentence may be converted to work release or suspended altogether. Typically, there is also a period of probation following a first DUI conviction.
DUI First Offender Programs
In some states, first DUI offenders may avoid some criminal penalties by entering a DUI first offender program. These programs usually include alcohol counseling and screening to determine if the offender may have an alcohol abuse or dependency problem. First offender programs include classes to educate the offender about the dangers of drinking and driving. If an offender is accepted into the program, the judge usually places them on probation for the duration.
Fines and Fees
After a first DUI conviction, the offender usually must pay fines and court costs. The amount of the fine and fees varies according to state law. In some cases, it may be possible for the offender to work off part of the fine through community service.
Speak with a DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, we can help you find a local DUI lawyer. Call Total DUI toll free at 877-349-1311 or fill out our free case evaluation form and we will connect you with a lawyer near you who can evaluate your case.
The above summary is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. Speak to a DUI lawyer for further information.