A DUI does not have to ruin your life. If you get a lawyer, fight your case, and negotiate a good deal, you may be able to go on with your life with relatively little change. If your lawyer can win your case or get the charges dropped, you won’t even have a DUI on your record. But if you let yourself go to trial without a proper legal defense, there’s a good chance you’ll be convicted—and have the book thrown at you. If this happens, your life will definitely change for the worse.
To understand how a DUI will affect your life, and how you can stop it from happening, let’s look at some of the consequences involved.
#1: Your Driver’s License
The most immediate consequence of a DUI is losing your license. You will have your license suspended even if you aren’t convicted – unless you take quick legal action. If you are convicted, you will face a minimum four months’ license suspension, which assumes a lenient sentence on a first time DUI. For many DUI cases, the actual suspension will last years.
Obviously, being unable to drive to work, to the doctor, to see friends, to visit family, or to run errands is a good way to ruin your life. But there are alternatives:
- If you request a DMV hearing in time, you may be able to keep your license until your court outcome. A DUI lawyer can maximize your chances of winning at this hearing.
- If you are acquitted of the DUI charge, or if it is dropped, you keep your license.
- If your lawyer convinces the prosecution to downgrade the DUI to a lesser charge, you may keep your license.
- Even if you are convicted, a lawyer can help shorten the length of time you will lose your license. They can also help you get a restricted license so you can at least drive to work.
No one wants to go to jail. The penalties for DUI vary widely depending on how many violations you’ve had, the circumstances around your DUI, and the judge’s mood. But all DUI’s carry some amount of jail or prison time.
Here are two examples of how much it can vary:
- First offense: The minimum jail time is just 48 hours. This is easy to serve. But the judge could hand out up to six months. That alone is a good reason to hire a DUI lawyer from the beginning.
- Fourth offense: Minimum sentence is six months in a county jail. County jails are relatively safe and comfortable, and are located near your family. But a judge could instead give you 16 months in state prison—possibly nowhere near your family.
Even after you’ve served your time, the DUI does not go away. Every time you apply for a job, you will be asked to disclose your criminal history. Many employers will verify this with a background check. Drunk driving can be seen as a liability, and it is often looked down upon. Thus, it will affect how “hirable” you are.
Having a lawyer fight to get you acquitted or get the charge dropped is the best way to protect your reputation—and your career.
The biggest disaster of a DUI charge is the price tag. DUI’s are notoriously expensive. Here are some of the costs you could end up paying:
- The actual fine. A fine for even a first time DUI can be up to $1,000. They only go up from there.
- Penalty assessments. These are unofficial fines that are billed as court costs and other state costs. For a first time DUI they range from about $1,000 to $2,600. Again, they can be much higher.
- Mandatory DUI school. You will be ordered to take some form of DUI school course or alcohol treatment program, and you will pay for it out of pocket. These last from 3 to thirty months and costs $500 to several thousand dollars.
- Car costs. Your car may be impounded, and you will pay for each day it sits in the impound lot. If you are required to install an interlock device, you will have to pay for this too.
- License costs. Reinstating your driver’s license—when you’re finally allowed to—comes with fees of its own.
- Insurance. Having a DUI on your record will raise your car insurance rates, and you will need to pay for a special Form SR-22.
All told, even the cheapest DUI costs several thousand dollars. Many DUI’s cost more than a brand new car. Ironically, people often refuse to hire a lawyer because they’re worried about the cost, but just a few hours of a lawyer’s time could save you thousands of dollars.
Take Action to Protect Yourself
If you want to keep a DUI from ruining your life, get legal representation. Our site exists to match you with a qualified, experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney. We provide this service for free and they will give you a free case evaluation. Just fill out the form to your right and get your free evaluation today.