What Happens When You Get a DUI?
Ever wondered what happens when you are arrested for driving under the influence? We strongly suggest that rather than finding out for real, you take a look at our handy guide to exactly what happens when you get a DUI.
Did you know that the average cost of a DUI is over $10,000? Not only is getting a DUI extremely costly, it will also cost you your license and might involve jail time. This article will explain what happens when you get a DUI and what you should do after your arrest.
Keep reading for more information on the consequences of getting a DUI.
Do You Know What Happens When You Get a DUI?
Every state is different and every case is different, but there are some pretty consistent things that happen when you get a DUI, starting with the initial stop by police.
You might be pulled over for suspected drunk driving after an officer observes you swerving or driving too slow. An officer could also pull you over for some other violations, such as speeding or a broken taillight, and suspect that you have been drinking.
When an officer pulls you over, the first thing he or she usually asks for is your license, registration, and proof of insurance. They also might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink, if you’ve been swerving or otherwise driving in a manner that might indicate you are drunk, or if the officer smells alcohol on your breath.
Or, you might be subject to a random DUI checkpoint that they have in some states. At these checkpoints, all drivers have to stop and speak with law enforcement officers.
No matter what kind of stop it is, if an officer suspects that you have been drinking, it’s likely that they will perform roadside sobriety tests.
The Sobriety Test
Although you don’t have to self-incriminate yourself, you cannot refuse a roadside sobriety test.
All states stipulate that a condition of having a driver’s license and operating a car in that state requires you to submit to a sobriety test if an officer has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence.
Most often, officers who have probable cause that you have been driving under the influence will use a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test. The most common field sobriety tests are:
- the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which asks individuals suspected of driving under the influence to follow an object, usually a pen, with only their eyes
- the walk and turn test
- the one-leg stand
Research has shown that these three tests are reliable indicators of intoxication when the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is .1% or above (most states consider drivers with a .08% or above BAC as impaired).
Officers can also use a portable breath test device, often called a breathalyzer. Although it isn’t as reliable as a blood or breath test conducted at a police station or hospital, it is a good way to estimate someone’s BAC and enough to provide probable cause for a DUI arrest.
The office will also likely physically seize your license, giving you a temporary driver’s license with an expiration date on it that coincides with your first court appearance.
If you do not pass the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer, you will be arrested for suspected drunk driving. Some jurisdictions will take you to the hospital first, to have your blood drawn and make sure it is safe to book you into jail or the local police holding cells.
Once you are booked, you may be able to leave as soon as someone comes and posts bail for you, or you may have to stay for a few hours until you are sober. You’ll then be given information on your first court appearance.
Going to Court
After you are booked and released from jail or the police department lockup, you’ll have a date to appear in court. Here you can plead guilty to the charges, plead not guilty, or plead no contest.
If you plead guilty, a judge will move forward with sentencing. If you plead not guilty, you might have a bench or jury trial. If you are convicted, you will then be sentenced for the DUI.
You will likely want to have an attorney with you when you go to court as well. Use this USAttorneys site to help you find a local lawyer who specializes in DUI cases.
The Non-Financial Costs of DUI
The criminal sanctions for DUIs include fines, court costs, loss of your driver’s license, and other potential sanctions, especially for repeat offenders, including possible jail time, probation, drunk driving school, or devices placed in your car that require you to submit to a breathalyzer test before you can start and operate the vehicle.
All states have laws that take away your driver’s license for a DUI conviction, even a first-time offense. The length of time varies but is usually between 3 and 12 months for first-time offenses.
For subsequent offenses, the length of time you lose your license generally increases.
You might be eligible for a provisional or hardship exception, which would allow you to drive during certain times or to certain locations, such as work or medical appointments, but these are determined on a case-by-case basis and are not guaranteed.
You also might lose your job or become ineligible for future employment, if a clean driving record is required in order to work in that occupation.
The Financial Costs of DUI
DUIs are extremely expensive.
You will most likely pay a fine, which can be anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. You may also have to pay court costs, pay a fee to get your license reinstated, and pay to have your car towed and stored at the impound lot until someone can pick it up for you.
Getting car insurance after a DUI is also difficult, as many insurers won’t insure someone with a DUI conviction.
You will often need to have a special type of insurance, known as “high-risk” insurance coverage to get your license reinstated by the state. The premiums for high-risk insurance are often double or triple the normal premium price, and many states require you to have this type of insurance for at least three years.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know what happens when you get a DUI, hopefully you realize the seriousness of the offense and will refrain from drinking and driving.
The next time you find yourself out and having fun, take an Uber or Lyft home and pick up your car in the morning.