Getting a DUI for the first time is often a confusing and stressful experience. However, you may be wondering, how serious is a first offense? Is it worth fighting, or should you just take a mark on your record and move on?
You always want to fight your DUI charge, even if it is your first offense. One could argue that fighting your first offense is the most important, as this will allow you to keep your record clean if you win your case. Let’s discuss how a DUI conviction can affect your life.
First Offense DUI Penalties in Wisconsin
A first offense DUI is not a criminal case in Wisconsin. Because of this, jail is not an option.
However, there are a number of other potential penalties.
If convicted of driving under the influence, you may be required to:
- Pay hundreds of dollars in fines
- Endure a length license suspension (six to nine months)
- Have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle
- Take alcohol safety programs
- Complete alcohol treatment
First Offense DUI on Record
A first offense DUI will not show on your criminal record because it is technically not a criminal offense. Instead, it is considered a civil offense and the record of your DUI will show as a traffic violation. However, this will be on your record for life.
Consequences of a DUI Conviction
Even a first-time DUI conviction can affect your life for years. In addition to the standard penalties listed above, your DUI can affect you in ways you may not think of.
- Insurance rates: After a DUI, your insurance rates could skyrocket. Car insurance is already pricey, but a DUI on record could cause your payments to double or triple.
- Career: If you are a CDL holder, a DUI conviction can put your career on hold as your license is suspended.
- Mental health: Being convicted of driving under the influence can cause you to feel many negative emotions such as guilt, anger, or sadness.
- Lack of trust: After a DUI, your friends and family may lose trust in you which could affect your relationships.
Can a First DUI Ever Be a Criminal Offense?
As previously mentioned, a standard DUI is not a criminal offense. However, there are a couple of serious reasons why a first DUI could result in criminal charges and jail time.
First, if a minor under 16 is in the car at the time of the DUI. In this situation, a conviction can result in up to six months in jail even if it is the first offense. Additionally, the maximum fines could be over $1,000 and the driver’s license suspension is increased to 18 months.
Second, if the DUI causes an accident resulting in injury or death. In these serious cases, the driver will likely face criminal charges and increased penalties. Additionally, the injured party may pursue a civil lawsuit in addition to the criminal charges.
To Fight or Not To Fight
Whenever possible, you want to get your DUI case dismissed. Not only does this save you the trouble of the penalties listed above, but it helps keep your record clear so if you are charged again, you are not facing the increased penalties of a second offense.
We recommend always consulting with a DUI attorney before making any final decisions. They can provide further guidance about possible case outcomes and determine whether or not they believe they can help you get your case dismissed.
Wisconsin DUI and OWI Defense Attorneys
Don’t decide on your own that your DUI isn’t worth fighting; contact Melowski & Singh, LLC for experienced insight. We’ve seen thousands of different DUI cases and once we learn the details of your case, we can further advise you on your best course of action. Call us at (920) 294-1414 to discuss your situation further with our Sheboygan DUI defense team.