Stigma After a DUI Conviction or Even a DUI Arrest
If you or a loved one are arrested for a DUI, you may be facing not only the court charges, but you may also feel the effects of the great stigma that surrounds drunk driving. If you are convicted of a DUI, that stigma may follow you for the rest of your life. Any time you apply for a job that asks about a criminal record, or whether you had a DUI, you'll have to respond because it is reflected on a permanent criminal record. This is another important reason you should consider talking to an experienced DUI lawyer, to try and fight your conviction.
Even a 1st time DUI has serious penalties. The penalties surrounding a DUI arrest have gotten tougher and tougher over the years, in part because “drunk driving” is a political issue. There are big organizations fighting for tougher DUI laws (MADD), and law enforcement and lawmakers like to sound tough on crime, and they see DUIs as an easy political target.
A DUI conviction for a first offense may result in the judge giving you 24 hours in jail. And even after you get out of jail, you'll be facing probation for a year. The judge could require 40 hours of community service, a clinical substance abuse evaluation, substance abuse treatment, driver's license suspension, a fine of $1,000, and a DUI risk reduction program. But even after serving your time, and paying your dues, the social consequences could remain.
As if the criminal penalties weren't enough, some areas are resorting to public shaming, all for a DUI arrest, even if there is no conviction. Some areas post the names and mug shots of people arrested on suspicion of a DUI. Of course, these public notices, and regional crime blotters don't give a lot of detail about the arrests, and may not include the information that a driver was arrested even when they tested below the legal limit. Despite the fact that people you may know are arrested for a DUI every day, it is easy for the public to come down hard on DUI arrests.
People treat someone arrested for a DUI much more harshly than someone who was involved in an accident because they were texting and driving, even though both are potentially dangerous activities that can result in serious injury or death. One reason is that driving under the influence has a long history in this country, resulting in thousands of deaths every year. People equate a DUI with someone being wasted and choosing to get behind the wheel, even when the actual facts behind an arrest were completely different.
So many DUIs involve people who are just at or slightly over the limit to drive. They may be drivers who tried to wait until they were sober to drive home, but got their timing wrong. It could involve drivers who counted their drinks, but didn't account for the stiff mixed drink a bartender served, a generous pour on a glass of wine, or the high alcohol level of a local microbrew. These people didn't think they were breaking any law when they decided to drive, they just made a mistake that can result in some heavy penalties.
The really unfair part of the public stigma is that people can be shamed by people who don't know the facts of the situation, when a driver was never even over the limit. If you get arrested for a DUI, other people may automatically assume you're guilty, and trying to explain the situation will fall on deaf ears. They don't want to acknowledge that police officers make mistakes every day, just like anyone else. They don't want to hear about how unreliable field breathalyzers are, or how unreliable field sobriety testing is.
The truth is, police officers do make mistakes, and those mistakes can cost you. Field breath tests are not even reliable enough to be used as evidence against you in court. Field sobriety tests can be extremely subjective, with the possibility of errors and mistakes all over the place. They aren't mandatory and can be terribly unreliable. Unfortunately, these are the things police officer's rely on to justify a DUI arrest.
This is why it is important for you to consider speaking with an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Not only do they understand how unreliable these tests can be, they know how to identify the mistakes, so that you don't have to pay the price. DUI defense lawyers who are trained in field sobriety testing, and educated on the different chemical testing machines have seen innocent people charged with a DUI, while the prosecutor tries to push for a guilty plea. You don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.
Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one gets arrested for a DUI in Atlanta, you want to avoid the stigma that goes along with a DUI arrest. You don't want a criminal record or to spend time in a jail cell, and you don't need the stress of a year-long probation. Just because the police and public make you feel guilty does not mean you need to plead guilty. You deserve to be treated fairly, and have the right to have someone fighting on your side. A lawyer who has built their practice on DUI defense understands DUI penalties, and how to fight those charges. Call me anytime, day or night, so we can get to work on your case, and have the charges against you dismissed or reduced.