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They say there's a first time for everything, but that's not much of a comfort when you're talking about a DUI. The prospect of a losing your driver's license -- not to mention a criminal conviction on your record -- can be a scary possibility, especially when you don't know what to expect.
While dealing with a DUI charge for the first time is never easy, knowing these five DUI laws can certainly make it less painful.
The first thing you need to know is how to deal with officers when you are pulled over and/or arrested for a suspected DUI. While the police may not be required to read you the Miranda warning before giving you sobriety tests or arresting you for DUI, you are not obligated to give any statements to officers without an attorney present.
Not every DUI case goes to trial. You can certainly fight the charge in front of a judge or jury if you feel that you were wrongly accused or improperly pulled over. Or you can accept a plea bargain that will probably mean pleading guilty to the charge, but can save time and include fewer penalties in the long run.
If you are convicted of DUI or take a plea, you may be ordered to install an interlock ignition device in your car, even if it's your first DUI. An interlock device requires drivers to blow into the device in order to start their car; if any alcohol is detected, the car will not start. Some devices can also ask for breath tests while driving, and record and report failed tests.
Some jurisdictions offer first-time DUI defendants a diversion program, which can help avoid a conviction but will usually require a guilty plea. So how does that work? Generally speaking, as part of your plea bargain you agree to some combination of fines, community services, or alcohol education classes. Prosecutors agree to withhold your guilty plea until those are completed, and may dismiss the charges once you do.
The total cost of your first DUI will depend on a variety of factors. Were you involved in an accident? How far over the legal limit were you? Will you contest the charge or accept a plea bargain? DUI penalties also vary by state, so where you live could also impact the final costs.
The best person to ask about your first DUI is an experienced DUI attorney -- contact one near you today.