Here are the 10 things you need to know about the process that surrounds an Atlanta DUI, arrest and what you can expect to happen after the arrest or conviction.
1. The basics of driving while intoxicated aren’t that basic–A DUI, arrest means you’re caught driving a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal). And, it’s not always a car or a truck, you can also get a DUI while driving other vehicles like ATVs, golf carts, and even bicycles.
In many cases, a DUI starts when a police officer pulls someone over because he or she thinks their driving is erratic or impaired. Afterwards, the officer conducts various sobriety and chemical tests, such as the Breathalyzer, which measures blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC. These tests determine whether or not the driver is under the influence.
You can get a DUI if you’re pulled for some other reason besides erratic driving. As long as your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you can be charged, even if your driving wasn’t affected.
2. Once your DUI conviction is official, it will remain on your record. As a result, it may show up on any background checks that potential employers run. It may last for at least the next five years, but the actual length of time varies by state.
3. Don’t be surprised if your car insurance rates are raised as a result of a DUI —Along with the above, you can expect to pay more for car insurance due to a drunk-driving conviction (since you will now be a “high risk driver”). You may even have to shop around for a new car insurance company. Your current one could drop you once they learn about your conviction. Finally, your DUI conviction can affect your life-insurance premiums, too.
That said, insurance companies don’t all think the same way about driving while intoxicated, nor do they treat all DUI convictions equally. In other words, if your driving record was spotless before your conviction, and it was your first offense, then your premium payments may be only slightly higher than before.
4. “Drunk driving” isn’t just about alcohol consumption–DUIs, aren’t only tied to driving under the influence of alcohol. Operating a vehicle after consuming other substances can result in arrest and conviction too. This refers to both illegal and legal drugs, including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs.
5. DUI’s usually aren’t felonies, although there are exceptions–The first time you get a DUI, it will probably be a misdemeanor and not a felony.
However, some situations cause even first-time DUIs to be felonies. For example, if you kill or severely injure someone while driving under the influence, that’s a felony. Or, if you have an especially high BAC, or if your license was restricted, suspended, or revoked before you drove intoxicated.
6. You can tackle your arraignment by yourself, but not a good idea.–After you get a DUI arrest, your next step is likely to go to court for your arraignment. There, you’ll be formally charged with a crime and must respond to that charge with a guilty or not-guilty plea. If you try and go at itself, the Prosecutor can and WILL use things you say at the Arraignment later in your case. Don’t go at this alone.
7. Be prepared to lose your driver’s license–If you are charged with a DUI, it’s a pretty safe bet that your driver’s license will be suspended. However, after the initial arrest, you have 10 business days to file for a ALS Hearing. We files these all the time so people can keep driving. This is very important.
By the way, if you refuse to give a blood, breath, or urine sample at the time of your arrest, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended.
8. To get your license back, you’ll probably have to go through a treatment program–The most common route to getting your driver’s license back is some kind of education, therapy, or treatment program.
Note: if you’re convicted of driving under the influence on multiple occasions, you may lose your license for a number of years or even permanently. This is due to “Habitual Offender” laws that have been passed in many states.
9. It’s possible, but unlikely, that you could lose your car, too–If this isn’t your first drunk-driving conviction, the judge may impound your car for a certain period of time. He or she could even order you to forfeit (get rid of, basically) your vehicle. Luckily, this is only in extreme circumstances.
These kinds of penalties are much less common than they were in the past. Thanks to gadgets like Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs), in which the technology keeps drivers from starting their cars if their BAC is too high.
10. Fines, jail time, and more also can be tied to a DUI conviction–Along with losing your license and possibly having to install an IID in your car, there other penalties you could get if you’re convicted of a DUI.
It’s important that you understand that you know if you get a Atlanta DUI, it’s a serious offense. We see many people living in Atlanta trying to go at this alone. If you do, it will more than likely be on your driving record. That is what Atlanta DUI Defense Lawyers are for. Contact the Howard Law Group so we can help keep your DUI off your driving record.