It’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol. All states in the union take drunk driving very seriously. Colorado is no exception. Even your first offense can have severe implications. Here, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about getting a DUI for the first time.
What Happens When You’re Caught Drunk Driving?
As with most crimes, you will be taken to the police station if officers suspect that you’ve been driving while under the influence. At the station, processing includes mug shots, fingerprinting, and detention in a holding cell.
Some states will release you immediately if someone comes for you and pays you bail.
DUI offenders will have to appear in court. At the time of your arrest, the police will hand you a ticket or summons indicating the date of your court appearance for DUI charges.
In many cases, those who deny or plead not guilty to their DUI charge are shown a video of themselves failing the field sobriety test, with the entire courtroom as witnesses.
Driver’s License Suspension
You can expect to have your driving privileges revoked for some time, even with a first-time offense. Driver’s license suspension usually takes place in court, but your license can be suspended immediately if you refuse a breathalyzer or sobriety test.
If the court decides that yours is a one-off offense, you may apply for a hardship license, which will allow you to drive from home to school or work.
DUI offenders have to complete an educational DUI program before they can have their driving privileges fully reinstated. These classes cost nearly a thousand dollars and can last from three to nine months.
Fines and Probation
The fine for a first-time DUI offense can range from $300 to $1800, depending on the state. However, penalties can increase according to the circumstances. You’d have to pay significantly higher fines if your drunk driving resulted in an injury or property damage.
Aside from fines, you’re also likely to be handed a probation sentence. Your sentencing judge will determine the terms of your punishment. Whatever the conditions may be, you need to pay a monthly fee for the administration expenses.
Can I Go to Jail for a First-time DUI Offense?
If you think that first-time DUI convicts are only fined and given probation, you might rethink this. Jail time is now mandatory in many states for first-time DUI offenders. In Colorado, jail time is at the judge’s discretion.
A first-time DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor in all states, and the conviction can be anywhere between a day to six months in jail. While the typical jail term for first offenders is only one to two days, the sentence may be lengthened if there are any aggravating circumstances connected to the DUI case.
How Does a DUI Charge Affect My Car Insurance Rates?
If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving and cited for the act, you can expect a substantial increase in your car insurance premiums. You see, insurance rates are partly based on your risk as a driver, and a DUI conviction elevates this risk.
After being involved in a driving accident or a DUI arrest, most insurance companies will categorize you as “high-risk.” In some states, those with a drunk driving conviction will need special insurance, known as the SR-22, before they are allowed to drive a vehicle. This policy can cost you twice or thrice your original premiums.
Should I Get Help From a DUI Attorney?
Just because it’s your first DUI arrest does not mean that it won’t have any significant impact on your criminal history or employment opportunities. Remember that employers nowadays run criminal history checks on their applicants. Having a DUI on your record may qualify you as a safety risk and lower your chances of getting hired.
Do not take your first DUI charge lightly. Seek professional advice. An experienced DUI attorney can help you tackle the many issues linked to your DUI case and may get the charges against you reduced or dropped altogether.
Follow the link to learn more details about DUI laws in Colorado
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About the Author
Michelle White is currently the Content Marketing Strategist for Arizona DUI Team
. Aside from spreading awareness of DUI and vehicular-related offenses, she enjoys reading and hiking with her family and friends.