Not all that long ago, driving under the influence (DUI) was not considered a very serious crime. In fact, it was fairly common to simply be given the proverbial “slap on the wrist” for a DUI conviction unless you seriously hurt someone while driving drunk. Those days, however, are long gone. Over the last several decades, a campaign has been waged to try and educate people about the dangers involved in drinking and driving. As a result, most states have passed much harsher drinking and driving legislation and increased the penalties for a conviction for DUI. Despite this, many people are still under the (mistaken) impression that they cannot be sentenced to a lengthy jail term for a DUI conviction.
The Drinking and Driving Campaign
During the 1980s and 1990s, advocacy groups such as “Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)” waged a very successful campaign to change the way the public thought about the issue of drinking and driving. Prior to that time, most state drinking and driving laws were fairly lax and even law enforcement officers did not focus much on enforcing those laws. Judges also tended to hand down lenient sentences for drunk driving convictions unless there was an accident involved that caused injuries. By the turn of the 21st century, however, most of that had changed. States across the country were passing laws that lowered the legal limit and increased penalties for convictions. The trend continues today and the State of Nebraska is no exception to the trend.
Is a Jail Sentence Possible for a First-Time DUI?
Despite all of the changes in attitudes and laws relating to drinking and driving, many people are still under the mistaken impression that going to jail never happens for a first-time DUI conviction. That is a dangerous mind set because the truth is that you can be sentenced to jail for a first-time DUI conviction. While it is true that a first-time DUI is generally charged as a misdemeanor in the State of Nebraska, absent aggravating circumstances, that does not guarantee a sentence without any jail time. Most of the time a first-time DUI defendant is not sentenced to additional time in jail; however, it is most certainly possible.
When Does a DUI Conviction Result in Jail Time?
Every DUI case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances. As such, there are no hard and fast rules regarding sentencing; however, there are some facts and/or circumstances that tend to make it more likely that a defendant will be sentenced to jail time as a result of a DUI conviction, including:
- A history of prior convictions
- A very recent prior conviction
- The DUI included an injury accident
- An unusually high BAC level
- Presence of a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest
- Refusal to stop or resisting arrest
Each of these facts/circumstances alone is likely to increase the odds of the prosecuting attorney seeking jail time. If you have a history of DUI convictions, you will likely be charged with a more serious offense to begin with, thereby increasing the potential penalties for a conviction automatically. A higher BAC level can also serve to automatically increase the severity level of your charges and, consequently, increase the minimum and maximum sentence you could receive if convicted.
The bottom line is that anyone could be sentenced to an additional term of incarceration for a DUI conviction. DO not make the mistake of assuming that is not possible. Instead, consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to discuss the facts of your case and your possible defenses. The best way to avoid the possibility of going back to jail is to avoid a conviction altogether.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact an Omaha DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced Sarpy County DUI lawyer.
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