Everyone knows that DUI stands for driving under the influence. What you may not know is what happens if you get pulled over and are charged with a DUI for endangering not only yourself but others around you. In short, a DUI is a serious offense that can have a big impact on your life.
Have you been charged with a DUI?
In Missouri, if you drive with an excessive blood alcohol concentration or while intoxicated with a combination of alcohol and drugs, you are breaking the law. And the penalties associated with a DUI vary depending on the circumstances and whether you have had any prior convictions.
The differences in penalties between a first conviction and subsequent ones are quite substantial, as illustrated below:
For a first DUI offense, you might face up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, a license suspension of 30 days, and the possibility of having to install an ignition interlock device if your license is restricted.
If you are charged with a DUI a second time, jail time goes up to one year, fines increase to $2,000, your license could be revoked for up to five years, and the ignition interlock device would have to be used for six months.
Third offenses entail jail time of up to 4 years, a fine of up to $10,000, a 10-year revocation of your driver’s license, and a minimum of six months with an ignition interlock device.
In some cases, the court can decide to suspend any of the above jail sentences if certain probationary conditions are met. These conditions can be spending a few obligatory days in jail, undergoing a substance abuse treatment, or being subject to continuous alcohol monitoring as well as random testing. If these conditions are not met, the previously suspended sentence will be reimposed.
Also, if you have had your driver’s license suspended, you might be eligible to obtain a restricted or hardship license. If you are unsure as to your eligibility for this license, your DUI attorney can help you find out.
Do you have to consent to a breath or blood alcohol test?
The law in Missouri clearly states that anyone arrested for a DUI must submit to a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test. If you refuse to be tested, you face a one-year license revocation and a six-month stint with an ignition interlock device. These penalties are imposed in addition to any other driver’s license restrictions.
Should you get a DUI defense attorney to help you fight your DUI charge?
The laws related to DUI are not only complicated but always seem to be changing. Add to that the fact that every case is unique and the defense becomes even more daunting, particularly when you have no legal training or experience to assess the weaknesses and strengths of your case.
What should you bring to the initial consultation with your lawyer?
Besides being completely open and honest with your DUI attorney about the facts of your case, it is important that you provide them with a copy of the police report as well as any other documents that may be relevant. Prepare yourself by writing down any questions you may wish to have answered.