All criminal charges are serious legal issues, but being charged with driving under the influence can create problems that other cases may not carry. There once was a day when a DUI was a relatively simple charge and defendants would plead guilty to what was often a minimal punishment. That is not the case today, and many people are charged with driving under the influence of chemicals other than alcohol. This is especially true of marijuana because the smell is obvious. Regardless of what substance is listed in a DUI citation, punishments have been enhanced to the point that the fallout of a conviction can last for many years. Not only have fines been increased and jail time made mandatory, but license privileges can be suspended for a significant length of time as well. The possibility of a jail sentence means that all defendants will be required to retain legal counsel in defending the charge And even though the state can often appoint an attorney, this rarely bodes well for the defendant.
Enforcing Your Rights
Laws pertaining to DUI have made punishment minimums mandatory in every state, but the court is not required to establish standards at the minimum. Many courts view DUI charges as the most serious of offenses, and many times it takes experienced criminal representation to even plea bargain for a minimum punishment. In addition, cases with extenuating egregious facts can result in a very harsh penalty that could potentially be lessened with solid legal counsel. You still have rights to criminal defense, even when the court does not necessarily want to consider all of them, but it is up to the defendant to hire legal counsel who will have them enforced.
Drivers who are being charged with a second or third offense will assuredly be facing much stronger penalties than those receiving a first DUI. Jail terms can range from seven days to one year incarceration, depending on the circumstances, and those being charged after an accident will often have other criminal charges to defend in addition. Having experienced and aggressive legal representation in these serious cases can often result in a much lesser punishment when reasonable doubt can be established.
Long Term Affects
A DUI conviction generates a criminal record that takes many years to repair, and some states even enhance charges for a period of up to ten years following the fact. Drivers are also required to attend alcoholic driver education classes as well, at the expense of the convicted defendant, and completion is typically required for a license reinstatement. Not only can a conviction result in harsher penalties for a second or third offense within the period, it can also result in denied employment or termination along with denial of public housing or other government benefits for a driving under the influence of illegal substances.
Never assume that a DUI citation is no big deal. It assuredly is a serious issue to the court, and one they rarely are able to plea bargain to a reduced charge. In addition, the .08 standard for a conviction is not always applied to every driver. Underage defendants and commercial drivers can be convicted at a much lower BAC level. Always remember that the attorney you choose can make a major difference in the outcome of your case, and the expense of retaining an aggressive attorney with a strong track record of results is not just an investment in your freedom. It is an investment in your future as well.