Your first encounter with the law of any kind can be scary, but a DUI offense is especially so. You may fear the loss of your license, fines, or worse yet, time in jail. While there is a lot to take in, you shouldn't panic. Acting without thinking will only make your situation worse and as they say, the best defense is a good offense.
The information below will give you a better idea of what to expect as you prepare for your trial. Knowledge is power and the last thing you want is to be blindsided by criminal charges.
What penalties am I up against?
Let's start with what everyone wants to know about: their possible penalties. What you're charged with could determine how the next few years of your life are going to shape up. If you were under 21 years old at the time of your arrest, your license could be suspended for up to a year and you may face a maximum of 30 months in prison for the most extreme cases.
The court typically requires minor offenders to enroll in alcohol treatment programs for a predetermined period of time. Based on the circumstances surrounding your offense, fines range from $500 to $5,000.
If you are 21 or older, the penalties are actually quite similar. Up to 30 months in jail, between $500 and $5,000 in fines, and a probable license suspension for one year. Additionally, courts can mandate community service and treatment programs.
Do I need an attorney?
It's not uncommon for first-time offenders to assume that because it's their first brush with the law, they will get off easy and an attorney will be more expensive than it's worth. I cannot reiterate enough how untrue this is. Even if you've never been arrested before in your life, the reassurance of having an attorney on your side is priceless.
Your penalties will likely end up depending on the quality of your attorney. It is necessary to investigate every aspect of your arrest and prepare a strong defense based on your charges. An attorney can do this for you, all while ensuring that your rights do not go unprotected.
So before you show up in the courtroom defenseless, contact the Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. to retain a trusted Springfield DUI lawyer. I have a track record of success and can help to ensure that your first DUI does not damage your life ahead of you.