Hampton Roads First Time DUI Charge Lawyer

DUIs are one of the most common criminal offenses that people are charged with. However, their commonness does not detract from the seriousness of the charge, or how intimidating it can be to face, especially if it is a person’s first offense. That is why it is important for individuals to work with a Hampton Roads first time DUI charge lawyer. An experienced DUI attorney could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for them while guiding them through the DUI process.

How Do Prosecutors Handle First-Time DUI Charges?

Over the last few years, prosecutors have become stricter with how they handle first-offense DUIs. They used to be more willing to make agreements and work out arrangements, but as political pressure has grown stronger, they have become more hesitant to do so. That does not necessarily mean they are going to recommend jail time for a first offense, just that they are less likely to be willing to offer a friendly deal. Usually on a first-offense DUI,  assuming that there is nothing unusual about the case and the blood alcohol level was under 0.15, they will offer a suspended jail sentence with the mandatory minimums as required by law.

The Way Courts Treat First-Offenses

Misdemeanor DUI charges are typically heard in the general district courts.  If it is a felony charge, it will probably start in the general district court but,  under certain circumstances,  it may be a direct indictment to circuit court. The courts in the case of first-time DUI charges will want to see exactly what happened with the case and if there is anything unusual about it. Most jurisdictions will not give an individual jail time on a first offense. While the jurisdiction may not punish the individual to the fullest extent of the law, they are going to punish them if they believe that they are guilty.

Leniency depends on the facts of the case and the individual’s criminal record. However, judges and juries have become less lenient in recent years than in the past. In part because of how politicized the subject has become and because people are becoming more aware of how dangerous it is to drive while intoxicated.

Penalties and Potential Diversion Programs

For a first-offense DUI, there is a maximum of 12 months in jail. A first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the individual’s blood alcohol level is 0.15 or higher, there is a mandatory minimum of five days in jail. If it is higher than 0.20, there is a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. A Hampton Roads first time DUI charge lawyer could attempt to mitigate the penalties that an individual may face.

All of the diversion programs can be used to avoid convictions on DUI charges. If an individual is found guilty, they will be assigned to what is called ASAP, the Alcohol Safety and Action Program. It is a program an individual can enroll in ahead of time and some will do so in an effort to mitigate their sentence. Diversion programs and probation are discussed with the defendant before trial to give them an idea of the available options. The program seeks to educate people about the dangers of drinking and driving.

What Happens to a Person’s License After a First-Time DUI Charge?

If an individual is charged with a DUI, the law requires an administrative license suspension for 10 days. When that happens, they take the individual’s license and they cannot drive legally until that suspension has run its course.

There is a mandatory minimum license suspension of 12 months. Usually, the judge will not suspend the individual’s license for longer than that. However, the individual is eligible to get a restricted driver’s license, meaning that they are allowed to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from court appearances, and to drive for medical reasons. There are specific reasons set out by the code that covers license suspension.

Restricted Licenses

An individual is entitled to a hearing for the administrative suspension. A Hampton Roads first time DUI charge lawyer could help them contact the court and contact the DMV to set up that hearing. If the individual is convicted, as mentioned, the judge must suspend the individual’s license. However, the individual is entitled to argue for a restricted license and they can also argue against any sort of suspension beyond the mandatory minimum. They can also, at a later date, go to the clerk’s office and fill out a restricted license form to request a restricted license.

Value of a First Offense DUI Hampton Roads Lawyer

With DUI charges, there is much that the government has to prove. A Hampton Roads first time DUI charge lawyer could look at the evidence to see if the government is able to meet their burden. The DUI attorney could also pour over the facts of the case from the beginning and ask questions, like why was the accused pulled over, and whether proper procedure was followed. The attorney should also look at each specific field sobriety test and determine if the officers did everything correctly on those tests. Were blood tests or breath tests offered? Did the officer follow all of the statutory requirements that he needs to do for that to be admissible? The attorney has to look at everything. Because of the specificity of these charges, they have to go over every detail of them carefully. An experienced and dedicated attorney could review the relevant information and devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for an individual.