What happens if you are charged with DUI?

Have you or someone you loved been charged with DUI? Find out what can happen next and the penalties you may face.

Every year, police arrest more than 400,000 people on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). Being charged with DUI is a worrying experience with significant consequences if you are found guilty. So it is important that you understand the process going forward and potential penalties. 

The penalties you face will vary from state to state, but they can be substantial and might include a fine, suspension of your license, and even prison. This is why it is important to seek professional legal help from an attorney who is experienced in this field, such as Steven Leon Ellman.

Let’s look at what happens when you are arrested for DUI. 

You are arrested and booked

If you are pulled over by a police officer and they believe you may be driving under some kind of influence, they might request for you to undertake a field sobriety test or take a breathalyzer test. 

If you refuse to comply you can face legal repercussions, such as the immediate suspension of your licence. (This varies from state to state.) 

If you fail your test or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is above the legal limit, you will be placed under arrest and taken to a police station to be booked. Your mugshot, finger prints and personal information will be taken.

You may also face immediate consequences, such as the suspension of your licence, and your vehicle could be impounded (this can incur towing and storage fees). You may also be asked to post bail to secure your release from custody.

You are formally charged 

The next step is arraignment, when you are formally charged of an offence and informed of your rights. You will be asked to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

You attend pre-trial hearings

You (or your attorney if you have hired one) might attend pre-trial hearings in which you have the opportunity to negotiate with the prosecution, look at evidence, and arrange a plea deal, if applicable.

You go to trial

If you are unable to reach a plea agreement, your case could go to trial. In court the evidence will be presented, any witnesses will testify, and a judge or jury will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. 

You are sentenced

If you are found guilty of DUI, you will be sentenced. This might be a fine, probation, a mandatory alcohol education program, or even jail time.

When deciding on your DUI penalty, a judge will take several things into account. This includes your blood alcohol count, any prior convictions for DUI and state laws. 

Penalties often include the suspension of your driving licence. This can be anything from a few months to a number of years. Fines, meanwhile, can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. 

If you are sentenced to probation, this can involve mandatory drug and alcohol tests, regular check-ins, and abiding to agreed conditions. Some states might also require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID). This stops your vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on your breath.

And finally, if your offence is very serious and/or you have a prior record for DUI, you may receive jail time. 

DUI is a serious offence with long-term repercussions

Being convicted of DIU is serious and has long-term repercussions, so it is important that you seek the right professional help as early as possible in the process

In addition to the immediate consequences of a conviction, you will have a criminal record, which will affect your employment opportunities. Your insurance premiums are likely to rise too and, if you are not a US citizen, you may face deportation or visa restrictions.