What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time?

Man Holding a Beer Bottle Out of the Window, Meant to Illustrate a DUI.

A DUI Comes with Many Consequences, Some of Them Severe.

Driving under the influence is a fairly common crime, but nevertheless a serious one. Though it can surprise some people, a DUI will lead to your arrest and incarceration. In terms of what happens, you can first except an on-scene sobriety test. If you fail the test, you will almost certainly be arrested. Even if you pass the test, you may still suffer arrest. The reason for this is that you can suffer an arrest for intoxication for other substances than alcohol. Ultimate discretion lies with the arresting officer, so if you’re drowsy from taking too much Sudafed, do not attempt to drive a car.

A first arrest will land you in jail, and bring about a series of unfortunate consequences. If you receive more than one arrest for this crime, you will experience worsening consequences. After three or four convictions, depending on your state, you will receive a felony. At this point, probation and jail sentences become lengthy. Regardless of whether it’s your first or fourth, you will need someone to post bail to escape pre-trial detention. For a bail bond for a DUI in Baton Rouge, LA, call 225-414-9999 for Independent Bail Bonds. We’re the local bondsman that offers emergency service, and we can have you out of jail fast.

DUI Issues and Consequences

There are many issues and consequences that someone with a DUI must face. The first major issue, arrest, is typically unavoidable. If you’ve never experienced an arrest, the process may seem terrifying. While decidedly unpleasant, an arrest is not the end of the world. The officer will place you in handcuffs, then transport you to a local detention facility. Once you arrive at the facility, you will endure confiscation of your possessions, then go through the booking process. This involves a mugshot, fingerprints, and other procedures to document your incarceration. After this, you will have the ability to make phone calls, so be sure to call a bondsman.

At some point, you will appear before a judge for the arraignment hearing. At the arraignment, the judge will officially issue criminal charges and ask for a plea. Once you enter your plea, the judge will decide whether to set bail. With DUIs, you can almost always expect the judge to set bail. If you fail to post DUI bail, you will remain incarcerated until your trial. This pre-trial detention could extend for weeks or even months, so you should try your best to post bail. Hiring the services of a bondsman costs 10 percent the amount of your bail, a number that should be achievable for DUIs.

As for consequences of DUIs, there exist several. The specific consequences you face will depend on your county and the presiding judge. These consequences can include:

  • Jail Time
  • Probation
  • Criminal Record
  • Requirement to Attend AA
  • Requirement to Attend Counseling, Classes, and/or Presentations
  • Suspension of Your Driver’s License
  • Requirement to Install an Inter-Lock Device
  • Fines and Restitution
  • Community Service
A Stern Looking Police Officer Who Has Probably Made a DUI Arrest or Two.

When It Comes to a DUI, Discretion Ultimately Lies with the Officer in Regards to Arrest.

Jail Time and Probation: The length of possible jail time and/or probation will vary according to how many DUIs you have. In Louisiana, jail time for a first arrest ranges from 10 days to six months.

AA and/or Counseling Requirement: In some places, DUI offenders must attend Alcoholics Anonymous a set number of times each week. You may also have to attend classes about the dangers of drinking and driving, or even go through alcohol or drug abuse counseling.

Driver’s License Suspension or Inter-Lock Device: You will almost always lose your driver’s license for a set period of time. In Louisiana, this is 12 months for a first-time offender, or 24 months if your blood alcohol content was .20 or higher. You can apply for a hardship license, however, which will allow you to drive to work. If this is granted, you will generally need to install an inter-lock device. This device attaches to your ignition and tests your breath for alcohol. If you have been drinking, the vehicle will not start, and the result will transmit to the court.

Do Not Navigate a DUI Without a Lawyer

Whether you choose a public defender or hire a private lawyer, you should always have a lawyer when it comes to a DUI. The reason for this is simple: the lawyer will know more about DUI laws that you do, and can typically orchestrate a more favorable outcome. For example, in Louisiana, a first-time offender can get between 10 days and six months in jail. That’s a pretty big difference. A lawyer will almost always benefit you, and if you can afford it, a specialized DUI lawyer represents the ideal choice.

Why DUI Is a Crime

DUIs count as fairly serious misdemeanors, at least in terms of punishment, and can even count as felonies. A DUI is a crime because its represents gross irresponsibility on the part of the perpetrator. Someone who drives under the influence not only abuses their driving privilege, but also puts everyone else on or near the road in danger. Every year, countless accidents occur due to drinking and driving, many of which result in the serious injury or death of other motorists or pedestrians.

DUI vs DWI

A Man Behind Bars to Illustrate Pre-Trial Detention for a DUI.

In Order to Escape Pre-Trial Detention, You Will Need to Post Bail.

The difference between these two acronyms is confusing, and varies state to state. DUI typically means “driving under the influence,” while DWI means “driving while intoxicated.” Some states use one or the other to describe the same crime. Other states use both terms, one to describe intoxication from alcohol, and the other to describe intoxication from drugs. Still other states will use one to describe offenses that adults commit, and the other for juvenile offenses. In Louisiana, the acronyms get employed interchangeable.

DUI FAQ

Is DUI a Criminal Offense?

Yes, a DUI counts as a criminal offense in every state. DUIs actually come with both administrative and criminal penalties. Administrative penalties include loss of your driver’s license, while criminal penalties include jail time.

Which Is Worse, DUI or DWI?

Most states, including Louisiana, use these terms interchangeably. Therefore, one is not worse than the other.

Is it Possible to Get a DUI Dismissed?

There do exist ways to have a DUI dismissed. These could include:

  • Lack of Probable Cause: If there existed no reason for the officer to pull you over, i.e., you did not swerve, run a stop sign, or exceed the speed limit, you can possibly have the DUI dismissed.
  • Unreliable Sobriety Tests: If the test was conducted on uneven pavement, you were wearing inappropriate shoes, or the officer failed to explain things clearly, this could result in a dismissal.
  • You Were Not Driving: If there exists no verifiable proof that you were actually the occupant driving the vehicle, you can have a DUI dismissed.

Do I Need a Lawyer for First DUI?

You do not need a lawyer for a first DUI. However, you should strongly consider getting one. Even a public defender will do, as they have knowledge about court procedures and DUI law that you will likely lack. Of course, a specialized, private DUI attorney is the ideal way to go.

Can I Get a Job with a DUI? 

Yes, but it depends on the job. If the job requires you to drive a vehicle or operate any machinery, you likely will not get hired. Many other types of jobs will not hold a misdemeanor DUI against a potential hire.