Many people believe that a first-time DWI is not a serious offense. This is only true in a relative sense. Unless there are aggravating factors present, a first-time DWI is a misdemeanor offense, carrying less severe penalties than subsequent DWI convictions.
However, the consequences for even a first-time DWI can still be quite harsh. These can vary according to state law and may include license suspension, fines, ignition interlock devices, and even jail time. A DWI conviction can also affect you indirectly in contexts outside law enforcement, as an attorney, like a DC DWI attorney from a law firm like the Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, can explain
Though legal consequences for DWI can be significant, there are also other consequences that affect you following your conviction. For example, a DWI conviction can lead to an increase in your auto insurance premium. This is because a conviction on drunk driving charges makes you a higher risk in the eyes of your insurer. Your insurer also may not cover the damages for a wreck if there are factors present that elevate it to the level of a felony.
A DWI conviction could also affect your ability to get a job. Prospective employers may be afraid that you would cause their insurance rates to increase. They may also regard you as a potential risk to workplace safety. Even if you do not inform prospective employers of your conviction, they will probably find out sooner or later. It is a common practice to run a background check on the criminal histories of prospective employees.
Regardless of where you live, a DWI conviction will lead to a suspension of your license, and therefore your driving privileges. Some states will suspend your license administratively following your DWI arrest but before your trial. This becomes a near-certainty if you refuse a breath test upon your arrest.
Some states impose mandatory jail sentences even for first-time DWI convictions, meaning that you will probably have to serve some time. You may receive probation and/or community service in addition to your jail sentence.
Most jurisdictions charge fines for DWI that can range in the thousands of dollars. Additionally, you may have to pay substantial fees to cover court costs and other expenses. You may have to undergo alcohol counseling or have an ignition interlock device installed at your own expense.
The consequences for a first-time DWI can be costly and humiliating. One of our attorneys may be able to help you put together a defense against the charges. Contact our office to arrange a consultation.