Drinking is a common occurrence in Mecklenburg County, and sometimes people get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Even if a driver thinks they are not intoxicated, a breath alcohol test may disagree, and driving under the influence (DUI) charges may be leveled. If you are facing DUI charges, even if you have never had a run-in with the law, call a Mecklenburg County first offense DUI lawyer to start working on your criminal defense.
First time DUI charges are typically heard in the General District Court in Boydton in Mecklenburg County. Having an experienced DUI attorney as an advocate could help you navigate the procedures of trial.
How the court will treat a first time DUI charge depends on the facts of each specific case. The prosecution in first offense cases often offers a plea deal, usually mitigating consequences for in exchange for admitting guilt and saving the court time and money. A finding of guilt, whether from trial or plea deal, typically includes a suspended jail sentence and a suspended driver’s license for a year among other consequences.
The defendant should expect the prosecutor to fully pursue a conviction, even on the first offense with no prior criminal history. The state treats DUI charges seriously and if there is enough evidence to secure a conviction, the prosecution will seek significant consequences. By consulting with a first offense DUI attorney in Mecklenburg County, it is possible defendants may be able to have their case dismissed at trial or have the penalties mitigated.
The standard first offense penalties include 12 months of a suspended jail sentence and 12 months with a suspended driver’s license. The driver may be eligible for a restricted license that would allow them to drive for work, school, doctor’s appointments, or take their kids to childcare and doctor’s appointments.
If a restricted license is granted, the driver must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, go six months without any violations, and pay a fine of $500. An ignition interlock device prevents a car from starting until a breath alcohol test is performed with a sober result. The device may also require intermittent tests while driving.
Usually, there is no diversion program offered to first time DUI offenders. The closest thing a driver might get to a diversion program is probation. This could involve going to the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program otherwise known as VASAP, taking classes, and having an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle. The period of probation for these classes and interlock use lasts between six months to a year.
A Mecklenburg County first offense DUI lawyer will build a defense based off of the specific circumstances. It is important when a person hires their attorney to speak to them as soon as possible and give as much information as possible to the attorney. With all the information, an attorney could review the evidence the prosecution intends to use and based on the specific facts of the case, the DUI attorney will build their defense. Whether it is arguing about a driver’s good character based on a lack of prior offenses, or explaining that it is a one-off lapse in judgment, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer could apply the strategy that works best in the given situation.
As soon as a driver is arrested, their license is administratively suspended for seven days. The arresting officer will confiscate their license and will have it mailed to them after the seven days, allowing them to drive again. Their license may be suspended again if they are convicted after trial, but they will be able to drive after the seven days’ administrative suspension and before their trial.
The most effective way of challenging a driver’s license suspension following a conviction is to appeal that decision. As it is a driver’s first DUI, they could appeal a conviction within 10 days to get a new trial with a new judge. However, the license suspension will not be separated from the rest of the punishments. If they are convicted, Virginia law requires a license suspension.
If they have been convicted of a DUI and their license has been suspended, a person may apply for a restricted license in court either the day of their conviction or anytime within a year of their suspension. This petition must be reviewed by a judge so most people apply for the restricted license the same day so that the judge can make their decisions as soon as possible.
It may be tempting to try and deal with DUI charges on your own, but it is important to say nothing until consulting with Mecklenburg County first offense DUI lawyer. One of the biggest mistakes to avoid is admitting to evidence that could be used against you. It is essential that you know your rights, hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney, and abstain from speaking to the police until your attorney is present.
If you have been charged with a DUI despite having Ano prior DUI history, an attorney may be able to help fight for you. Call today to schedule a case consultation.
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