In the United States, driving is an essential freedom, not just a practical activity. Many people even feel like their cars are an extension of their homes, a space where they have a certain amount of privacy and amenities that make daily like a little more pleasant. What would you do, then, if you were suddenly told that you weren’t allowed to drive? If you’re arrested and convicted on DUI charges, that’s exactly what could happen.
DUI, the shorthand for driving under the influence, refers to driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08%, which is the legal limit for those over 21. Such laws also typically include driving while under the influence of various drugs, including marijuana. Though different states may use other acronyms, being charged with a DUI is a surefire way to lose access to the open road. Here’s what can happen if you’re arrested.
There Will Be Jail Time
Driving while intoxicated is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents, and our legal system takes it seriously. That’s why, if you’re pulled over for driving under the influence, there will absolutely be some jail time. This isn’t the sort of offense you’re just ticketed for – the arresting officer has a responsibility to remove you from the situation, and will hold you in jail at least until you sober up. After that, depending on the circumstances, you may be released on your own recognizance or on bail.
Your License Will Be Suspended
If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI, you’ll also face fines and a license suspension, but how substantial these penalties are will likely depend on your defense team. If you’re represented by a public defender, for example, you’re likely to receive a higher penalty than if you hire a private defense lawyer for your DUI case. That’s because public defenders are extremely overtaxed compared to private lawyers. Such poor representation could mean you face the full two-year license suspension for a first offense, and as many as ten years if you’ve been convicted of a DUI before.
A private lawyer may not be able to protect you from all loss of privileges – because of blood alcohol testing and other tools, the evidence for a DUI is straightforward – but they can minimize the consequences. For a first offense, that may be as little as a 90-day license suspension. If you live for the road, 90 days may feel like a lifetime, but it’s a small price to pay if you’ve put others at risk by driving while intoxicated.
If driving is your passion, the worst thing you can do is compromise that by driving while under the influence. Not only will this take you off the road for a time, but a DUI charge will also lead to increased insurance rates, and can compromise your ability to get a job because it will show up on background checks. This isn’t about making a one-time mistake behind the wheel. Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs put everyone around you at risk, and it will impact your life for years to come.