DUI first offenses occur when a subject faces their first drunk-driving charges. Unlike other offenses, first-time DUI charges are treated seriously and can lead to severe legal consequences. With other kinds of crimes, especially less serious misdemeanors, a defendant is often treated leniently the first time. However, first-time DUI offenders can be subject to fines, jail time or both.
Consequences of a First DUI Offense
A first DUI crime can lead to significant criminal penalties. Depending on the location, the punishment may include:
* Criminal fines of $1000 or more
* A period of time in county jail, typically six months or less
Additionally, other driving-related consequences can arise from a first offense. They may include suspension of one’s driver’s license, mandatory completion of a drunk-driving course and the required purchase of an SR22 auto insurance policy (which can be costly to keep). If a DUI results in injury to a passenger or other motorist, it can bring civil liability for a defendant. Here, the person would be responsible for damages.
Proving a First DUI Offense
The prosecutor’s office has the burden of proof where first-time DUIs are concerned. In these cases, the state must prove basic facts such as:
* Whether the arresting officer had probable cause
* Whether the arrest itself was lawful
* If the defendant was in violation of law by having a raised BAC, or if they refused to submit to chemical or breath analysis
Proving an offense is relatively straightforward. Most evidence comes from results of chemical testing, and from the testimony of witnesses.
Alternative Sentencing for First Offenders
In certain cases, diversion may be an option for first-time DUI offenders. Diversionary programs may include methods like mandatory counseling, weekend community service, or other punishments meant as a substitute for a jail sentence. Diversion isn’t available in all cases, and clients may need a DUI attorney in Martinsburg, WV when requesting such programs. However, these programs can help defendants keep their records clean while retaining the right to drive.
Does a Person Need an Attorney for a First DUI?
Handling DUI cases can be difficult, especially for a first offender. It’s in the client’s interest to hire a DUI attorney in Martinsburg, WV for help with these charges. A lawyer with Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law can provide solid legal advice and they can determine whether alternative sentences may be used.