Columbia First Offense DUI Charges
In order to build a good defense for a first-time DUI charge, Columbia DUI lawyers will consider a number of factors regarding the case to see how best to proceed. These can include the following factors of a person’s case:
- Prior criminal record
- Previous DUIs/DWIs they have received
- Whether there was an accident involved
- Calculated BAC at the time of their arrest
Additionally, depending on the circumstances of a person’s case, a lawyer will build defenses based on whether they were actually driving a vehicle at the time of the alleged DUI offense; whether the officer had a legal justification (probable cause) for pulling them over; and whether the officer followed the proper legal procedures during the arrest, including if they were provided with Miranda warnings. Moreover, a lawyer may be able to provide valid explanations for the driver’s observed behavior by the officer, as well as introduce witnesses that may have testimony which contradicts the officer’s account of the events.
For a first-time DUI, a person may face up to 1 year of incarceration and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, if convicted, 12 points will be assessed to their driver’s record. This will result in a suspension of their license for a minimum of 6 months.
First-time offenders are eligible to be given a probation before judgment. With this disposition, the judge will strike the individual’s guilty plea and place the individual on a period of probation. It is possible that the individual will be placed on unsupervised probation if they have completed the recommended treatment. Additionally, once the probation conditions are satisfied, points will not be assessed to their driver’s record.
First-time DUI charges are heard in the Howard County District Court among the other must-appear traffic citations. It is likely that a judge will treat a first-time offender more lenient. Especially if the individual has taken the initiative to enroll themselves in an alcohol education program immediately after being charged.
Once a person is arrested for a DUI, their license is confiscated. The arresting officer will provide them with a temporary driver’s license. The temporary license will allow a person to continue driving for 45 days. If a person does not contest the suspension by the 30th day, their driver’s license will be suspended. Upon a DUI conviction, their license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months.
A person can request an administrative hearing to be held at the OAH. At the hearing, the MVA will send digital documentary evidence, which generally includes a person’s driving record, the form that was signed on the date of the arrest advising the individual of their rights, and their calculated BAC. Through the documentation, the MVA must prove to the judge that there are reasonable grounds to believe that they were driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol.
A person may ask the administrative law judge to approve a restricted license. In this instance, a person must request a hearing at the OAH within 10 days of the arrest.
Mistakes to Avoid
The biggest mistakes to avoid if you are a first-time DUI defendant includes, representing yourself in court, as a DUI is a serious offense; not requesting an administrative hearing to contest your license suspension; and not thoroughly investigating all of the evidence in your case, such as police reports, accident reports, breath sample reports, citations, and videos (body camera or dash).