Should I expect jail time for a first DUI

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

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In most states in the Union, you will allegedly go to jail on your 1st DUI. At least, you will face jail time. The amount of time you face, or how long over the mandatory will depend on so many factors to make it an unsure thing.

In many people’s experience, in Massachusetts, and apparently in a lot of other states, expect a fine; expect a possible loss of license; expect some jail time. In most states a defendant can do other activities other than facing time in an actual cell. Some of these are: expect having to do some community work; expect having to attend “training” or school; expect having to write something or speak to a group of teenager on drinking and driving. But, actual jail time when no one was hurt, no damage was done, and no belligerence occurred, is very unlikely. Even repeat offenders do not get much, if any, jail time. However, most states take a much dimmer view on leniency when it comes to DUI/OUI. Some examples: Tennessee is 29 jail-days plus license lost for 1 year. Oklahoma is 1 jail-year. California is min. 2 days plus 6 mos. License, plus school, plus Interlock (breath-alyzer to start car).

It is very easy to find state mandated penalties for 1st DUI or OUI, on up. Here are some state and lawyer sites with info: [http://dui.findlaw.com/dui-laws-resources/state-by-state-dui-penalties.html holds each state’s dui penalties.] and [http://www.drinkinganddriving.org/tools/]

Searching also came across an online site resource that provides legal advice to the general consumer: [http://www.yourlegalguide.com/dui-first-offense/]. An addition resource from this site is another site: [http://www.yourlegalguide.com/jail-time-sentencing-alternatives/]. These sites reinforce that fact that any number of factors makes the situation worse when it comes to fines and sentencing, but that there are any number of factors and circumstances and options when it comes to the actual sentencing. This is where a lawyer, thought at some expense, is very worthwhile. This is a good point to bring up, “Do I need to have a lawyer?” The short answer is, of course, “No.” One does not need to have a lawyer. But, when it comes to negotiating with a judge about jail time, sentencing, options, mitigating circumstances, unless one is a lawyer or a very knowledgeable person in this aspect of the law, it would seem to be a bit arrogant to go it alone. As is said in most situations where legal discussions and negotiations might occur, having a good, knowledgeable lawyer on one’s side is worth the expense.

First-time OUI/DUI offenders can most often expect to get a misdemeanor DUI. DUI second offenses usually receive a mandatory jail sentence, while a first-time misdemeanor DUI charge, having no aggravating factors usually receives little or no jail time. Also, it is more likely that the judge will consider alternatives to time in a jail cell, especially if any mitigating factors exist in your case. Community service, driver's license suspension, and mandatory alcohol/drug education and rehabilitation programs are all examples of alternatives available to the judge.

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