Despite the best efforts of both law enforcement and private advocacy groups to put an end to driving under the influence, or DUI, it does still occur. The rate at which people are arrested and charged with DUI has certainly decreased over the past couple of decades; however, it remains a fairly common criminal charge across the country. Because it is such a common charge, some people make the mistake of taking the entire case too lightly. They figure there is very little chance they will go to jail and even less point in trying to avoid a conviction so why bother hiring an attorney. If you are currently facing a first offense DUI in the State of Nebraska, do not make the mistake of taking the charges against you too lightly. The best thing you can do for yourself and for your future is to retain the services of an experienced Nebraska DUI defense attorney.
Potential Judicial Penalties for a First Offense DUI
One reason people often think an attorney is not necessary for a first-time DUI is because the potential judicial penalties are not severe enough to warrant hiring an attorney. The term “judicial” in this context is important because there are really two different types of penalties you face if convicted of a DUI. Judicial penalties are those directly imposed by the judge at hour sentencing. For a first-time DUI in Nebraska without aggravating circumstances those include things such as:
- Maximum of 60 days in jail
- 6-month license revocation
- $500 fine
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
The reality is that few people are actually ordered to serve the maximum time in jail for a first-time DUI conviction and while there is a six-month license revocation, a defendant may still operate a motor vehicle if he/she obtains an Ignition Interlock Device Permit. Knowing this, some people decide that it is not necessary to hire an attorney because they are unlikely to be sentenced to a lengthy period of incarceration and they still have an avenue by which they can legally drive. What they do not think about, are the non-judicial penalties they face if convicted of even a first-time DUI.
Potential Non-Judicial Penalties for a First Offense DUI
Where many people make a mistake when deciding whether or not to hire an attorney for a first offense DUI is in not taking the potential non-judicial penalties into account. Non-judicial penalties are the negative consequences and/or ramifications of a DUI conviction that are not directly related to the sentence the judge hands down in court. All too often, these “penalties” are far more detrimental to your life and are much longer lasting than the actual judicial penalties. Some common non-judicial penalties include:
- Loss of current employment
- Automatic disqualification for future employment opportunities
- Professional discipline if you hold a professional license (doctor, lawyer, teacher, real estate agent, nurse, accountant, etc.)
- Increased insurance rates (often as much as 3x higher) for 3-5 years following the conviction
- Removal proceedings or disqualification for a change of status if you are a foreign national
- Interference with custody and/or visitation with minor children if you are divorced or get divorced in the future.
- Disqualified for certain types of permits and licenses (such as a liquor license to manage or operate a restaurant or bar)
For the average person, any one of these non-judicial penalties is likely worse than all of the judicial penalties combined. The prosecuting attorney is not going to warn you about the non-judicial negative consequences you face if you accept a guilty plea agreement, nor is the judge. They are only required to explain the judicial penalties you face. Without an experienced Nebraska DUI defense attorney on your side you will not have a clear picture of all the penalties you could incur as a result of even a first offense DUI conviction. If there is a chance that you could avoid the conviction, and thereby avoid all of the potential penalties, doesn’t it now make sense to explore that possibility?
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.