For many of the people I meet, a DUI is their first run-in with the law. Most of the people accused are not hardened criminals or gang bangers. A lot of them are common folk who made a bad decision.
Because of their lack of experience in dealing with criminal proceedings, people often make the wrong choices and fall prey to common misconceptions which could greatly alter the outcome of their case. In my experience as a Fulton County prosecutor and as an Atlanta area DUI lawyer, these are the top five misconceptions I have noticed:
5. I’ll get off easy because I have a clean record
Just because you have never committed a crime before does not mean you will be dealt with lightly. DUI charges come with a lot of political pressure for prosecutors to push for the harshest penalties. For a first offense, the penalties can include:
Jail Sentence: 10 Days to 12 months.
License Suspension: one year.
Community Service: Minimum of 40 hours for those over 21, 20 hours minimum for those under the age of 21. A judge will decide the actual hours.
DUI laws include mandatory minimums that must be imposed. That means even if you are a model citizen, the judge has no choice but to impose at least the minimum penalty. The prosecutor will almost certainly be pushing for more.
4. Pleading guilty will get me a lighter sentence
Pleading guilty early on in the case is not a good idea. There should at least be a review of the evidence to see how it can be challenged. Many times cases can be won and prosecutors can offer a better deal to avoid going to trial. By pleading guilty, you have not put any pressure on them to give you a better option.
3. There is no way to disprove the DUI tests anyways
This is completely false. Breath, blood and urine tests all have limitations and can be successfully challenged. Many times equipments is improperly used and machines are not calibrated. Also certain medical conditions can affect readings and yield artificially high blood alcohol readings. A well trained and experienced DUI lawyers can scientifically challenge these tests which can help secure a dismissal of the case.
2. I don’t need a lawyer
DUI cases involve complex legal and scientific matters. It is not a simple paper pushing procedure. This is why it is recommended that you consult with a highly qualified DUI attorney not an inexperienced one. Handling your case by yourself can make matters worse because you will find little help and will not know of some of the other options available. Getting the best lawyer you can find is the single most important step you can take to protect your rights.
1. It will all blow over in a couple months
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to go away by itself. Even long after a conviction, your DUI can come back to haunt you. It will remain on your permanent criminal history forever. Every time an employer does a background check, they will see the DUI. It may cause you to lose out on job opportunities. There are also many private websites and apps that publish arrest and conviction info meaning and friend or acquaintance can easily see your DUI in seconds. Plus there are a host of other consequences like increased insurance rates. Just ignoring the problem will never make it go away and the longer you delay getting help the worse it will get.
The best thing you can do is to get professional help immediately. If you are in the Atlanta area, call 1-855-9-ATL-DUI.