February 14th, 2022 by Attorney Dan Carman
Many people who have been arrested for DUI have never had any trouble with the law. When you got your DUI, you may have thought that you were OK to drive or that you were only going a short distance. When you were placed into handcuffs for your first DUI, you may have been scared or worried about what will happen next. So what usually happens on your first DUI? Here’s what you can expect.
After you’re arrested for a DUI, you will likely be taken into custody. It’s not common to be released with a ticket for DUI, because you aren’t safe to drive. If you were released with a ticket, you need to understand that if the ticket is for DUI, it’s still a criminal charge. If you’re in custody, you will receive an initial bond amount or be released on a promise to appear.
Your arraignment hearing is when you’re formally charged in court. You can also request that the judge lower your bond if you were unable to bond out of jail or if the money that you already posted is a financial burden. The judge will also set a schedule for your pretrial hearings.
Most DUI cases have one or more pretrial hearings. Some of these are just for scheduling. You will also have the chance to have your lawyer request dismissal of the charges against you. For example, if the police violated your constitutional rights by making an illegal traffic stop, the judge may dismiss your charges for lack of probable cause.
If you’re not able to get your case dismissed or negotiate a favorable plea deal, you have the right to take your case to trial. A trial is your chance to create reasonable doubt and be found not guilty even if you believe you were drinking and driving. For example, there may have been a problem with your breath test that makes its results unreliable.
What Are the Consequences If You’re Convicted of a First DUI?
If you’re convicted of a first DUI, you will receive a six-month license suspension and be required to complete a 90-day alcohol or substance abuse program. In the event that you refused to submit to mandatory alcohol tests during your DUI arrest, your license will be suspended for the same length of time even if you weren’t convicted of DUI. If you have a hardship, such as needing to drive to work, you can request a restricted license instead of a total suspension if you install an ignition interlock device on your car.
A first criminal conviction of DUI carries jail time of 48 hours to 30 days. A judge can impose community service instead of jail. There can also be a fine of up to $500, and you may be ordered to pay court costs.
Note that the sentence and charges may be higher if there were aggravating factors. Aggravating factors can include injuring or killing someone, being well over the legal limit, or reckless driving.
What Alcohol Tests Are Mandatory?
Kentucky’s implied consent law does not apply to field sobriety tests or roadside breathalyzer tests. You have the right to refuse these tests, and it’s usually in your interests to do so.
It is mandatory to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test at the police station or if they bring you to a hospital for testing. Refusing these tests can lead to license suspension. You do not have Fifth Amendment rights against these tests, but the police may be required to get a warrant for the test. If you refuse after the police get a warrant, the fact that you refused can be used as evidence that you were driving under the influence.
Is a DUI Only for Alcohol?
While there might be technical differences in what you’re charged with, you can be arrested for more than being under the influence of alcohol. This includes illegal drugs like marijuana and legal drugs like prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Don’t assume that you won’t be arrested or convicted simply because you weren’t drinking.
What Counts as a First DUI?
Kentucky only looks back ten years for DUI offenses. If you were last convicted of DUI 11 years ago, a current offense it would count as your first offense for the purposes of the DUI statutes. Cases where your charges were dropped or dismissed don’t count, either. Only convictions within the last ten years determine whether you’re charged with first DUI, second DUI, or third DUI.
What Is a First Minor DUI?
A minor DUI or DUI under 21 is a DUI where someone under the legal drinking age had a blood alcohol limit of at least 0.02 but lower than the usual legal limit of 0.08. The license suspension and substance abuse treatment requirements are the same as a standard first DUI.
There is no potential for jail time. The sentence is a fine of up to $500 or up to 20 hours of community service instead of a fine.
A DUI under 21 does not count as a prior offense for a regular DUI. If you were arrested for a full DUI and only had a prior conviction for DUI under 21, the current offense is your first DUI arrest. However, a person under the age of 21 can be charged with a regular DUI instead of a minor DUI if they were above the normal 0.08 legal limit or there were aggravating factors.
Can You Get a Plea Deal?
It may be possible to negotiate a plea deal on a first DUI offense. In some cases, you may be able to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. In other cases, you may be able to get the charges reduced to a non-DUI offense so you don’t have a DUI on your record.
Is a First DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
A first DUI is generally a misdemeanor. Keep in mind that even misdemeanor convictions mean you have a criminal record, so you still want to avoid a conviction if possible. If there are aggravating factors, such as driving with a passenger younger than 12 or causing an accident with injuries, a first DUI can become a felony.
What Happens If You Drive While Your License is Suspended?
If you’ve been convicted of a first DUI, you may not realize the seriousness of a license suspension or think your circumstances justify your driving without the judge’s permission. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense. Your license may be revoked for six months on the first offense, one year for the second offense, and two years for additional offenses. You will also face possible jail time.
Get Help from an Experienced DUI Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a first DUI and are worried about your future, talk to an experienced defense attorney to learn more about whether you can beat or reduce your charges. You can schedule a consultation by calling Lexington Defense at 859-685-1055.