Being arrested for a DUI can happen when you least expect it and is often nerve-racking. If you find yourself in this situation, likely, you’re not sure what’s going to happen or what the next steps are. Becoming familiar with the process of a first-offense DUI arrest and how life can change will help you prepare and accept what’s to come.
What Is a DUI?
The acronyms DUI and DWI are known by drivers across the United States, and in certain instances, there is a difference between the two. DWI means “Driving While Intoxicated” and DUI means “Driving Under the Influence.” But how do these charges differ from one another? A DUI doesn’t always mean a specific alcohol level must be met; a prosecutor is only required to prove that the driver was impaired due to alcohol, unlike a DWI. In the state of Minnesota, these two terms are commonly utilized interchangeably because navigating both charges separately placed an unwanted burden on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An individual can be charged with a DWI or DUI in Minnesota if the following factors are met:
- Operating or being in control of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol or a hazardous or controlled substance
- Alcohol concentration appearing over the legal limit (.08) through a breath, blood, or urine test within two hours of being stopped by law enforcement
- Discovery of any amount of specific controlled substances in the system
Keep in mind; each state follows different DWI or DUI offense guidelines, meaning the severity of the charges and factors leading up to can vary. In Minnesota, there are four different degree charges for driving under the influence. (MN Stat § 169A) Regardless, if you’ve found yourself being charged with a DUI, it’s time to choose a quality DUI attorney.
Getting charged with a DUI not only impacts your life, but it can also be humiliating and affect your social circle. Your mugshot will be taken during booking and processing in the county jail after you’ve been arrested. Unfortunately, this information is easily accessible to online users for years to come, meaning it can be extremely detrimental to your social and professional reputation. Many both inside and outside your social circle will likely discover your DUI charge before you even have time to process it, which can result in becoming an outcast.
Every DUI case is different, but it’s most common for individuals to lose their driving privileges, from a few days or months to over a year. During this time frame, you will be prohibited from operating any motor vehicle, meaning you’ll have to rely on another individual or alternative modes of transportation to complete daily tasks such as going to work or grocery shopping. Alternative transportation methods can include utilizing the city bus system, taxis, or a ride service like Lyft or Uber. If your job requires regular travel, getting a DUI will hinder these privileges as renting a car will no longer be an option.
States across the country have also started requiring DUI offenders to install breath alcohol ignition locking devices in their vehicles, mostly if driving privileges are restored after a short time. These devices connect to your car’s ignition and require the user to complete a test before the vehicle can be utilized. Should the device detect a blood alcohol level above the programmed limit, your car will not start and vice versa. DUI offenders that have been ordered to utilize a breath alcohol ignition locking device are typically required to pay an installment fee along with a monthly payment that can range from $50 to $100 a month.
Diminished Personal Funds
Navigating a DUI charge is extremely costly, which means your savings and personal funds will be substantially diminished. The average cost of a first-time DUI offense in Minnesota can reach upwards of $10,000. The different expenses individuals get charged with a DUI are expected to fund can include, but are not limited to:
- Car Towing
- Impound costs
- Court and Legal Fees
- DUI Education Programs
- Increased Insurance Premiums
- Probation Fees
- Drug and Alcohol Assessment
- Drug and Alcohol Counseling
- License Reinstatement Fees
Higher Auto Insurance Rates
When you get charged with a DUI, the conviction becomes a part of your permanent record. Auto insurance companies review your record before approving new and extending current coverage. It’s likely that you already have auto insurance. In some cases, your current provider may decide to drop your coverage altogether depending on your driving offense’s severity and how much danger you pose as a driver. Having a DUI charge on your record automatically categorizes you as a “high-risk” driver, meaning your current provider will increase your premium, and new auto insurance companies will require you to purchase “high-risk” insurance. It will take years before you have access to competitive rates, and the current rates may be difficult to afford, which could mean you will be unable to drive for the foreseeable future.
Child Custody and Travel Restrictions
If you’re currently involved in a divorce case that includes children and child custody, having a DUI charge can be detrimental to your case’s outcome. Having a DUI on your record may impact the judge’s decision for granting you child custody as this may display a drinking problem and be a red flag as to whether you’re a responsible, fit parent.
After being charged with a DUI, you will also be placed on probation, which puts extreme limitations on travel. A probation officer will be assigned, and you must ask for permission to travel outside your residing county. Additionally, travel restrictions also remain once you’re off supervision, which can impact the locations in which you travel. Foreign countries like Canada prohibit admittance even for a first-offense misdemeanor, resulting in detaining and deportation.
Trouble Obtaining Financing
It’s not just your auto insurance company that reviews your criminal record – many lenders review criminal records and credit reports before deciding to provide financing. If you’ve been hoping to obtain a mortgage, car loan, or even a credit card, getting charged with a DUI can drastically affect your likelihood. A DUI conviction is costly, and many creditors consider those with DUI charges of greater risk meaning your application could be denied, or you’ll have access to less competitive terms.
School and Work Limitations
Perhaps you’re a student, have an established career, or both – no matter where you’re at, you should be concerned about schooling and employment after receiving a DUI. While you may be happy with where you’re at, and your employer displays no signs of wanting to replace you, scholarships and promotions may be out of the question. Additionally, given that a DUI affects your means of transportation, overall attendance for both school and work may be impacted, which could result in termination or expulsion. If you lose your job or placement in a school, finding future employment or admission acceptance can be difficult as your criminal record is reviewed in both instances.
Hire an Experienced DUI Attorney Today
If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, it’s recommended to hire a criminal law attorney experienced in DUI charges. Many qualities make up a reliable lawyer; however, you must choose an individual familiar with your residing state’s DUI guidelines and offenses as this will ensure you’re adequately represented in court. Getting a DUI will drastically impact your life, but it doesn’t have to change it altogether – seek guidance from an experienced attorney today so you can continue life as usual.