What To Do After a DUI
Most drivers don’t think it will happen to them. You had a few drinks (or a hit of something else), but you don’t feel impaired so you decide to drive yourself home. Everything is going well until you see the flashing red and blue lights and are subsequently pulled over for [GASP!] driving under the influence. A DUI conviction can happen to anyone at any time which is why it’s important for you to learn what happens next after your first DUI. Here’s what you can expect…
While all 50 state have drunk driving laws, about one-third have specific laws that forbid any presence of a prohibited substance or drug in a driver’s body while in control of a vehicle, without any other evidence of impairment.
Once you’re pulled over for suspected drunk or drugged driving, a law enforcement official will ask you to perform a variety of tests to check your sobriety and blood alcohol content (BAC). This includes field tests (for coordination, balance and dexterity), a breathalyzer test or a blood/urine test. The request to perform these tests falls under the implied consent law where it is inferred that a driver has given his/her consent to a field sobriety test. You can refuse to take these tests; however, some states have mandatory license suspension laws if you refuse to get tested.
What’s important to note is that even if you pass the field sobriety tests, you will be found guilty if your BAC is 0.08 or greater. Also, if you are pulled over for a sobriety stop, you do not need to be over the legal DUI limit or have large quantities of illicit substances in your system to be arrested. If there is burden of proof that your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by any substance, you will be found guilty.
While you’re in police custody, the officer will record your personal information, go over your rights and complete all the necessary DUI/DWI paperwork. While you’re at the police station, you may remain in custody and bail will be set, or you will be released with a court date for your initial hearing.
Court appearances and defense
Next, you will need to prepare your defense if your case goes to court. If your case goes to trial due to sufficient evidence, you will need a competent defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases. This is crucial if you want to fight the DUI charges and win your case. Depending on the severity of your offense, your attorney may cross examine any witnesses – including the arresting officer, challenge any field sobriety test that was given, and comb through every detail of the arrest for errors.
Keep in mind that a good defense attorney won’t come cheap – and neither do court costs. Court costs will vary greatly depending on state/county and severity of offense. These costs often include filing paperwork and mandatory court appearances which can range from $250 – $1,500 for a first offense. In addition, legal fees can range from $2,000 – $5,0001
If you are convicted, you will need to pay the DUI/DWI fine which varies by state. Additional penalties may include jail time, community service and completing any other terms of your probation.
Reinstating your license
Once you’ve been convicted, your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked, which means there will be a period of time you will be unable to operate a motor vehicle.
Reinstatement laws differ by state, but in general most states will require you to go through an educational program, also known as DUI school. The length of the program depends on your level of impairment at the time of arrest.
Before you begin the program, a trained counselor will conduct an interview and ask you a series of questions to determine if you have a drug or alcohol problem. If it has been established that you abuse these substances or have a dependency problem, you will need to seek treatment before you can graduate the program. Treatment may include: support group meetings, outpatient counseling or therapy, or inpatient detoxification.
After taking these steps, you still may not be able to drive your car. Your state may require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle in order to reinstate your driving privileges. These devices prevent the vehicle from being started if it detects alcohol on your breath through a built-in breathalyzer.
In general, for a first offense DUI, it may take anywhere between six months to a year to reinstate your license. You should begin your reinstatement process towards the end of your license suspension. At this time, all of your fees or associated fines should be paid in full and you should have completed your state-mandated driver-retraining course or defensive driving course.
In addition, you will need to fill out a reinstatement request form with a check for the amount established by the state and send it to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will then need to obtain an SR-22 form and submit copies of it to your insurance carrier and state DMV. This form states that you are maintaining car insurance coverage. As a high risk driver, you will be required to carry this form for three years.
At this point, if all goes well, your license should be reinstated and you can be on your way to safe, unimpaired driving. Remember, the reinstatement process will differ by state. These are just some of the most common steps in getting your license back after a DUI.
Dealing with your insurance carrier
Now that you have your license back and you no longer need to make any trips to the courthouse or DMV, you will have to deal with your insurance company. After a DUI, you may lose your car insurance coverage completely. Impaired driving either by alcohol or drugs increases your risk, which means insurers may be less willing to cover you if you pose a risk to yourself and other drivers.
If your insurer doesn’t drop your coverage, you can expect to see an increase in your premiums. Insurance companies may raise your rates by at least $1,000 or more annually.
“At Good2Go Auto Insurance, if you have received a DUI, we won’t automatically drop you from your policy. We specialize in providing low-cost auto insurance to individuals like you who have been classified as high risk drivers, and we will work with you to keep you covered for less.” – Joe DeLago, CEO Good2Go Auto Insurance, Inc.
Has your insurance company automatically dropped your auto insurance coverage due to a DUI? Good2Go Auto Insurance® will keep you covered even after multiple DUIs. Get a free online auto quote now.2
By knowing what to expect ahead of time, you will be better prepared to handle a potential DUI. The easiest way to avoid a DUI conviction and the process of reinstating your license is to simply NOT drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
2Prices vary based upon the state where you reside, the minimum limits you purchase, and other underwriting factors.
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