First DUI Offense in Howard County
When individuals are arrested for their first DUI charge in Howard County, they are often worried about the possible consequences. Their nervousness is understandable; a single conviction for this type of offense can change their lives drastically. If this is happening to you, a Howard County DUI lawyer may be able to advocate on your behalf in front of a prosecutor or judge.
Your Legal Rights in DUI Cases
Before you even face prosecutors or judges, it’s prudent to know your legal rights. One is the right to avoid self-incrimination. This applies even when police officers first approach your vehicle. Under due process, you don’t have to answer their questions (although it’s wise to provide your license and registration). Numerous individuals accused of their first DUI charge in Howard County don’t realize they can invoke this right to remain silent instantly. They can also decline to complete sobriety tests.
Although you don’t have to answer the officer’s questions or participate in sobriety testing, consider staying calm and being polite. You don’t want to aggravate officers in such a delicate legal situation or raise their suspicions that you’ve been drinking. Just giving them your driver’s license and registration means you are cooperating. But in the absence of a lawyer, cooperation alone may not prevent legal consequences.
Constitutional Issues In DUI Cases
There will be fourth amendment issues in every case because the officer is initiating a stop and search. Additionally, there will be self-incrimination issues potentially depending on the timing of questions. There are also very rare circumstances where Miranda rights may apply.
How Can These Issues Impact Your Case
Overall these constitutional issues can make or break a case. If the court finds that a stop is unconstitutional then all of the evidence gathered from that stop needs to be suppressed. So if the officer didn’t have reasonable grounds to stop the vehicle then the entire DUI is going to fall apart from the state’s point of view. The other constitutional violations may result in certain evidence not being admitted, that can be statements that an individual made, that could be medical evidence, that could be the results of the breathalyzer test, so constitutional issues can have a huge impact in the outcome of a DUI case.
Penalties for First DUI Convictions
The consequences for a first DUI conviction in Howard County can be quite severe and are defined in Code Section 27-101(k)(1)(i). The following indicates the maximum penalties you may face if convicted of a first-time DUI:
- $1,000 in fines
- 12 points on your driver’s license
- License suspension or revocation (temporary or permanent)
- A maximum of one year of incarceration
However, if there was at least one minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the driver faces up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000, see Section 27-101(g)(1)(i).
Contact a Howard County DUI Lawyer
Though the penalties are potentially quite serious, don’t assume that you are without legal recourse. With the help of a well-qualified DUI defense attorney, you can fight to avoid jail time and costly fines, as all as collateral damage to your credit rating and job security – both of which can be jeopardized by charges and convictions involving DUI and related offenses.
It’s important to remember, however, that individuals facing DUI charges have a the opportunity to fight the prosecution’s case in court. By working with an experienced, local attorney who understands the way that prosecutors and judges in Howard County treat DUI charges. The importance of an attorney with local knowledge cannot be understated when your criminal record and your driving privilege are on the line.
When you call our law offices, we’ll conduct an initial consultation completely free of charge and with no commitment required from you. Call our friendly legal team anytime to start learning more about your legal options.