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I Got a DUI, What Happens Next?

by Landmark Recovery

October 3, 2019

There’s some good news and bad news concerning DUIs and drink driving in the US…

According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, drink driving fatalities have decreased by a whopping 48% since 1982.

While this is highly encouraging, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that of the 37,133 people who died in traffic accidents in the US during 2017, over 10,000 of these crashes involved a driver with a BAC (blood alcohol content) reading of 0.8 or greater. That, clearly, is not quite so encouraging.

Today, we’ll outline some of the many implications that occur in the wake of being convicted for drink driving but before that, what is a DUI exactly?


What Is A DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence.

Also commonly referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated), these terms can have different meanings or can refer to the same offense depending on details of the offence. A DWI can sometimes involve driving under the influence of drugs.

All 50 states define it as a crime to drive when your blood alcohol content or BAC level breaches 0.08%.

In some states, laws are edging toward zero tolerance with lowered legal BAC levels for any underage drivers. Penalties are also often increased for particularly high BAC readings if levels hover around 0.2%.

BAC levels are normally determined through a sobriety test involving blood, urine, or breath.

Once you’ve failed a sobriety test, you’ll generally go to court where your fate is determined by a judge or jury. Many states impose mandatory punishments for BAC readings above a certain level or as a result of refusing to take a test.

Repeat offenses are treated and punished more severely.

So, you’ve been caught for drink driving and you’re doubtless concerned about the consequences. First thing’s first, are you facing a felony or a misdemeanor?


Is a DUI a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

In the vast majority of cases, a first-time DUI conviction is a misdemeanor although in some circumstances sentencing can be enhanced making a DUI a felony crime.


Here are some situations in which a misdemeanor DUI can be elevated to a felony DUI:

  • Prior DUI convictions: If you’ve previously been convicted of a DUI, a repeat offense can be considered a felony.
  • Bodily harm: In the bulk of states, if someone is killed or injured by the drunken driver, it’s possible that felony charges will be filed. Normally, the driver needs to be the one who caused the crash for this to occur.
  • Elevated BAC (blood alcohol content): The benchmark for impairment is a blood alcohol content reading of 0.08% or above in all states. Certain states set a designated level at which the charge can be elevated to a felony, commonly at levels of 0.16%. Beyond this, the higher the BAC reading, the more severe the consequences.
  • Breaking other laws or driving with a suspended license: In some states, being arrested for DUI while also breaking other laws simultaneously can lead to the charge being enhanced to felony level. Perhaps the most common example of this is driving with a suspended license.
  • Driving impaired with children in the vehicle: Many states have passed laws allowing for felony DUI charges if there are any children present in the vehicle.


You’ll normally be facing a misdemeanor but there’s still some chance you might face felony charges.

Before we glimpse ahead at some of the ongoing consequences you’ll suffer if you get caught drink driving, what should you do in the immediate aftermath of arrest for DUI?


5 Things To Do Immediately Following a DUI Arrest

Once you’ve been arrested, there are 5 things you should bear in mind next:

  1. Take a Chemical Test After You’ve Been Arrested
  2. Contact a Specialist DUI Attorney
  3. Secure a Bail Bondsman
  4. Ask For a DMV Hearing
  5. Prepare for Arraignment


1) Take a Chemical Test After You’ve Been Arrested

Most states require you to take a chemical test to show an accurate reading of your blood alcohol level along with other key metrics.

Refusing to take this test is punishable by law.

Especially if you refused to take the field test, make certain you comply with the chemical test. You have nothing to lose at this stage but you’ll certainly regret refusing to take the test.


2) Contact a Specialist DUI Attorney

Don’t use the mistake of using a general attorney to defend you against a DUI charge.

Since the underpinning DUI laws can be confusing, you need a specialist with a detailed understanding of these laws.


3) Secure a Bail Bondsman

When you’ve been arrested, you might need to post bail although many people are released without needing to meet this requirement.

If you don’t want to pay your entire bail, a bondsman will take an upfront fee and take responsibility for arrangements.

Don’t under any circumstances be tempted to skip bail. A DUI might be distressing but it’s nothing to being pursued by a bondsman so be at your hearing at all costs.


4) Ask For a DMV Hearing

You’ll have 10 days after arrest to formally request a DMV hearing.

At this hearing, you’ll discover whether or not you’ll be able to hold on to your driver’s license.

If you or your chosen attorney fail to request this hearing, your license gets automatically suspended.


5) Prepare for Arraignment

Arraignment is the part of your trial where you’ll enter a plea.

It’s absolutely possible to fight a DUI charge successfully although you’ll need experienced counsel and a slice of luck on your side.

By pleading not guilt, you’ll benefit from a jury trial. Here, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you were not driving under the influence or to call other elements of the case into question.


The Ongoing Effects of a Conviction For DUI or DWI

With so many variables in play, we’ll hit fast forward now and assume you’ve been charged with a DUI. Here are 10 ways you can expect to feel the consequences on an ongoing basis:


1) Expect Immediate Financial Consequences

2) Be Prepared for Restrictions on Driving Privileges

3) Expect Your Car Insurance To Skyrocket

4) Be Prepared For Probation

5) Alcohol Education Programs

6) Formal Evaluation of Alcohol or Substance Abuse Disorder

7) More Fines Following Conviction

8) Don’t Write Off Jail Time

9) Get Ready To Install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device)

10) Future Background Checks


1) Expect Immediate Financial Consequences

As you’re about to find out, the whole process of getting burdened with a DUI is remarkably expensive.

These expenses will already have started before you’re even convicted. You might need to post bond simply to get released. You’ll sometimes need to pay associated charges to get your car back, too.

Then, of course, there’s the cost of hiring an attorney which usually calls for a down payment.

Bottom line, expect to be thousands of dollars out of pocket before the financial implications continue to kick in, penalizing you for a long time after the offense.


2) Be Prepared for Restrictions on Driving Privileges

If you thought that refusing to take a BAC test would limit the damage to your driving license, you’d be sorely mistaken. Most states impose an automatic suspension in the event of this happening. Expect to lose your license for 3 to 12 months if you elect not to take the test.

In a handful of states, your driver’s license will actually be confiscated upon arrest. You’ll be issued with a temporary driver’s license to tide you over until trial. If convicted of a DUI offense, you can expect further restrictions to ensure.

A first time offence normally results in a 90-day driving ban but there are so many variables this might well be shorter or longer.

You’ll then need to either wait out the time period before getting your license back or you might need to comply with specifications like an IID (ignition interlock device) before you’re allowed back under the wheel.

In many cases, you’ll need to present yourself before the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) so you can be formally evaluated. What’s of interest here to the DMV is your perceived risk of reoffending.

It goes unsaid that all of these restrictions on your driving freedom come with knock-on costs such as alternative transport as well as the downright inconvenience of losing your independence. From here, the costs just get worse and keep coming starting with insurance.


3) Expect Your Car Insurance To Skyrocket

As you’ll doubtless already be aware, you can expect to pay dramatically higher premiums for your car insurance. You’re likely to pay an average of 80% more for your insurance after a DUI. Depending on circumstances and previous convictions, this could run even higher.

In the worst scenario, your insurance company might no longer offer coverage at all. This forces you into the domain of insurers who will cover you but at a significantly higher than average rate. These companies also typically impose a range of restrictions on insurance, too.


4) Be Prepared For Probation

Since a DUI conviction is a criminal offense, there’s every chance you’ll be placed on probation.

Typical conditions include restrictions on using alcohol or visiting bars.

The specifics will vary here but you might even find yourself needing to request permission if you need to leave the state.

Again, probation will cost you money while also inconveniencing you considerably. It doesn’t do much for the moral either so should serve as another solid lesson against risking driving while under the influence.


5) Alcohol Education Programs

It’s becoming commonplace for even first-time offenders to be forced to attend an alcohol education program.

Attendance will be monitored and you’ll also be asked to pay for the program.


6) Formal Evaluation of Alcohol or Substance Use Disorder

In some cases, courts demand a formal evaluation before trial. The court can use the details of this assessment to influence sentencing and probation along with any need for ongoing treatment. You’ll be expected to pay for these assessments yourself and they’re not especially cheap.

In an attempt to reduce the number of repeat offenders, a number of courts will insist upon substance use disorder treatment as a condition of probation. Failing to attend this might result in jail time or an even larger fine.

In severe cases, you might even be mandated to attend a residential program for alcohol rehab.

Frequently, attending some form of treatment is a requirement for completing probation and getting your driver’s license back.


7) More Fines Following Conviction

If you though it was bad news financially so far, it just gets worse…

Once you’re actually convicted of a DUI offense, you’ll usually be fined as part of the punishment.

Expect fines for a first-time offense to range from $150 to over $1500.


8) Don’t Write Off Jail Time

Public opinion on drink driving continues to be harsh and states are becoming stricter when it comes to dishing out punishment for DUI offenses even if it’s a first-time misdemeanor.

As a rule of thumb, if it’s a repeat DUI offense, expect some jail time. In the case of causing injury or damage to property, a custodial sentence could be lengthy.


9) Get Ready To Install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device)

More and more states are insisting that convicted rink drivers install an IID (ignition interlock device) on their vehicles but what are these?

Ingenious devices, you’ll need to take a breath test showing no alcohol before your car will start.

You’ll need to pay for the IID to be installed and you’ll then face ongoing monthly fees to salt the wound.


10) Problems at Work

You might have already experienced some problems at work with court appearances and any community service requirements causing turmoil for your work schedule.

You’re likely to run into issues if you need to drive a company vehicle for your job.

In addition to problems at your existing place of work, when you’re seeking new employment, a DUI on your record isn’t going to do you any favors and will close certain avenues of opportunity permanently.

You should now have a solid overview of the repercussions of sliding under the wheel when intoxicated.

Before we round out, how long does a DUI stick around on your record?


How Long Do DUIs Stay on Your Record?

Since the criminal justice system keeps records of crimes on file forever, it’s only natural to wonder how long a DUI charge stays on your record.

While the charge will stay on your record permanently, there are some cases in which you can get the record expunged from your RAP (record of arrests and prosecution) sheet. Since landlords and employers are able to view this data, you should try this route if:

  • You served all penalties including any probation
  • You did not serve time in state prison
  • You are not facing any further criminal charges


What’s Next?

If you’re concerned about you or anyone else in your family drinking too much, get in touch with our friendly staff here at our alcohol rehab in Indiana. We’ll be happy to help out with your concerns, whether about the impact of a DUI conviction or about drinking in general.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.