It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why most people seem to think of DUI charges as "bad, but not really that bad," as if the consequences of a DUI charge are not very serious. Sometimes, it feels as though the public takes the attitude that everybody gets a DUI eventually, it's no big deal.
This is simply not the truth. DUI convictions can be deceptively costly - for years after you are first charged.
DUI (and other similar charges) seem to get an easy pass when compared to drug possession charges, which can be very harsh, but they are still nothing to let slide. Even a first offense can end up costing you at least a thousand dollars, when all of the fees are said and done. Beyond that, you will probably be facing serious increases in driver's insurance, and then you still have a mark on your record.
Keeping your record as clean as possible helps you in the future
Let's say you're in college, and one night you get pulled over for driving under the influence. You figure that it's no big deal, one of your classmates got this just last week and he didn't seem too bothered.
You decide not to fight the charges, take your licks and get on with your life. No sweat, just another right of passage.
Then, two or three years later, you're back in town for your little sister's graduation party and you take her and her friends out for a nice dinner, because you're a cool older sibling, and that's what you should do, right? The waiter knows it's graduation weekend, and doesn't make a big deal about everybody having some drinks with dinner.
After dinner, you're driving your sister and a few of her friends back to the house and you get pulled over again. The field sobriety test indicates that you're over the legal limit, and now you're in real bind - not only is this your second DUI, but one of your sister's friends is only 17 years old. On top of a possible felony charge for your second DUI in less than five years, you're also DUI with someone under 18 in your vehicle.
Right about now, you're wishing that you'd taken care of that little DUI earlier so you might have a little more wiggle room.
Multiple offenses stack up the consequences quickly
While one DUI may not seem like a big deal, it leaves you vulnerable to serious consequences if you have any more lapses in judgment later on.
If you are convicted of a felony, for instance, that is something that will follow you around for the rest of your life, and could keep you from getting a job or being able to lease an apartment.
Similarly, the penalties for felonies that can occur for multiple offenses can mean over $10,000 in fines and years of jail time if you're unlucky.
You should always fight to keep your record clean
No one is sitting here trying to make the case that driving while intoxicated is not dangerous - it is, and if you are at all impaired, you should not get behind the wheel.
However, all of us have an occasional weak moment.
If you are facing DUI charges, you deserve to fight as hard as you can to keep your record clean, or at least as clean as possible. Otherwise, you may be paying the price for a moment of poor judgment for years to come.
The best thing you can do for yourself right now, whether you've faced DUI charges or not, is to form a relationship with an experienced, qualified attorney before you need it. Get a few business cards and put one in your wallet or purse.
If and when the time comes, you'll know exactly whom to call to make sure that your rights remain protected and that your record stays as clean as possible. The guidance of an experienced attorney can help ensure that you don't simply accept charges that may follow you for the rest of your life.