Most states have taken a strong stance against drunk/intoxicated driving in the past two decades, and the enhanced penalties mean that a conviction for driving under the influence can create both short and long-term problems after the fact. Even a first conviction for DUI can result in automatic jail time and a license suspension, as well as significant fines and expenses related to court ordered drivers education. In addition, the conviction record generally stays on the defendant’s criminal history for up to 10 years in many states, and any subsequent arrests and convictions will lead to even harsher penalties. This is especially true when there are aggravating circumstances. When all things are considered, it can be vital to retain an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to represent your case even in an apparently simple case because evidence can often be contested.
DUI/DWI convictions can carry at least a small jail sentence, and many times the standard court policy is incarceration above the minimum. Impaired driving legislation in many states has set a minimum jail term that cannot be lowered by a judge, but the court retains the authority to set a standard jail time in excess of the codified incarceration minimum. In addition, when the case includes aggravating circumstances, many times a jail term is also enhanced and extra charges may be applied based on material case facts. Even a conviction for a misdemeanor intoxicated driving charge can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, while those prosecuted as a felony could result in a jail term of one to five years in most states. Anytime the potential exists for a defendant to be incarcerated it is advised that the defendant have legal counsel who can represent the case and potentially reach an agreement on case disposition with the most positive outcome.
Individuals convicted of driving under the influence may also receive a significant fine, often up to $500 for even a first offense. Multiple-offenders can expect to receive enhanced fines of up to $1000 in most cases, as well as being required to pay service fees for alcoholic drivers education and associated court costs. In addition to fines, a convicted drunk driver who is eligible for work release will likely also be required to pay a service fee for the privilege of work release. Not only will those who are denied work release potentially lose their employment, or at least the short-term income, the fines still stand and can become a very serious issue when the conviction has impacted the defendant’s ability to earn a living. And, this is not to mention the resulting increases in auto insurance premiums for a significant period following the conviction.
For individuals who have received their first charge for driving under the influence or while intoxicated, many times the incident will be their first criminal conviction. A DUI/DWI is not “just” a ticket, but is actually a criminal act that can follow the convicted driver around for several years and is often not eligible for an expungement later. A criminal history can be very problematic in the future when a convicted drunk driver is applying for work or trying to maintain employment. Some industries such as commercial transportation cannot allow convicted drunk drivers to work for the company and often a CDL is suspended for an even longer period of time than a standard suspension of driving privileges.
Outside of the criminal process, DUI’s/DWI’s can also yield civil repercussions. If the DUI/DWI charges were related to an accident that caused another party injury or death, a separate civil proceeding may occur in which the complaining party can file for due compensation. With the help of a DC car accident lawyer, they may be able to collect damages from the offender for medical bills, lost wages, and even punitive damages in the event the court finds their actions willfully negligent or malicious.
Even when an accused drunk or intoxicated driver is facing an obvious conviction, it is still very important to retain an experienced and effective DUI/DWI attorney who can potentially negotiate a significantly better plea arrangement than you would receive by going to court without counsel. Call us today to discuss your DUI/DWI case.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C., for their added insight into the consequences of DUI/DWI charges.