By: Chris Kramer
It doesn’t matter what state you live in when it comes to a DUI conviction. This type of charge is always taken very seriously. Even first time offenders could be faced with jail time and the suspension of driving privileges.
The Administrative Aspect of Being Convicted
DUI convictions are usually made up of two parts: the license suspension and the criminal court proceedings. The administrative part of the process is civil, dealing with your license and driving record. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the criminal portion, which handles penalties, fines and sentencing.
A license suspension may happen before the criminal case is scheduled. Whether or not you fail a breath test or refuse to take one, your license could be suspended on the spot. Some states demand drivers to hand over their licenses at the scene of the incident.
Other states, however, allow a certain number of days for the driver to request an administrative hearing. This hearing is completely separate from the criminal case. But if your arrest was based on probable cause and you either failed or refused to take a breath test, your license can be suspended or revoked during the administrative hearing.
There are a number of states that allow offenders limited driving privileges, if they meet certain criteria. For instance, a first time offender may be permitted to drive to and from work, school or an alcohol education program. But many states do not give this kind of flexibility to people who would not take the breath test.
The Criminal Part of Being Convicted of a Driving Under the Influence Charge
The criminal portion of the conviction starts soon after the arrest. You will be taken to an arraignment, where you’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Then comes the trial and sentencing, if you are convicted.
A DUI sentence could include jail time, fines, community service and mandatory alcohol treatment. Under certain circumstances, you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle as well.
Even though most DUI offenses are considered misdemeanors, a felony charge could be made if you have prior DUI convictions or if the current incident caused bodily harm or property damage.
Not only does a DUI conviction bring legal penalties, it can also create havoc in your personal life. A conviction may make future employers think twice about hiring you. Furthermore, you may have difficulty securing home or car loans.
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