Understanding a DUI, the FAQ’s:
Let’s get right to the point. Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, is a criminal charge that no one ever wants to deal with. A DUI charge can have a massive negative impact on you, your family, and potentially even friends and colleagues. The criminal nature of getting a DUI can cause problems for someone for the rest of their life, whether it’s trying to get a job, needing their license to use a car for family transport, or applying for U.S. citizenship; the list is endless. That’s why Cansino Blanchette Law Firm, LLC specializes in DUI defense. We know just how hard it can be for those charged with DUIs to get their lives back on track, and we want to help them minimize the damage a charge like this can cause. Over the years we have handled hundreds of DUI cases. After handling so many DUI cases, we have noticed that there are many questions that our clients have about their DUI charges. With that in mind, here’s our breakdown on the most frequently asked questions about your DUI charge.
- Can We Really Win?
This is probably the most common question every DUI defendant asks. And it’s a good question, because a “win” in a DUI case isn’t necessarily an outright dismissal. Many DUI defendants will know the facts of their case and feel like they might be too guilty to “win” their case. However, we define a win in a DUI case in a much broader sense than getting the DUI completely dismissed. Frequently, the prosecutors in our DUI cases realize that their case against our clients has weaknesses and a DUI will be difficult to prove. In these cases, the prosecutors will often avoid trial where they might lose and offer to reduce our client’s charges. This is definitely a win in our books, because reduced charges mean our clients will not have a DUI on their permanent record, they will have smaller fines to pay, and they could avoid potential jail time. Sometimes it is possible to get a DUI dismissed entirely, but even when that’s not an option there is still opportunity to win your case. Set up a consultation with us if you have a DUI and would like to know if your charges can be reduced. After learning the facts, we will be able to tell you what we need to do to win and what the chances of success will be.
- Can I plead Nolo or No Contest?
Everyone can enter a Nolo Plea once every five years. A Nolo Plea, or No Contest, means that you are acknowledging that there’s a charge against you, but you are not pleading guilty or innocent to the charge. Basically it’s an alternative to pleading guilty or not guilty, and it might help you in your DUI case, but only in a very specific situation. If you are using your nolo plea for DUI offenses prior to July 1, 1997, the nolo plea could save you from losing your driver’s license. However, due to changes in the law, a nolo plea for any DUI taking place after July 1, 1997, will not save your license. A nolo plea might carry benefits in a DUI case in one other specific scenario. If there was an auto accident involved in a DUI, and liability is an issue, nolo could be useful in this case as well. The bottom line is that nolo pleas probably won’t help the majority of our DUI clients, but we will be able to tell you exactly what a nolo plea could offer in your specific case when you come in for consultation.
- Will the Prosecutor Know my Record?
The State of Georgia will have access to your history. In DUI cases, the State of Georgia will be the prosecutor against the DUI defendant, so it’s safe to assume that the State will know all about your prior record, even any charges that might be from other states. They will also know if you have a clean record, which could be beneficial for potentially receiving a lesser sentence. The prosecutor may obtain a national criminal history background on you. This will show them any prior offenses on your record, both in Georgia and in other potential states. We do not present the previous criminal history of our clients to the State. However, we must know the truth about your history so that we can prepare the best possible defense on your behalf.
- When will my DUI drop off my Record?
It won’t. In Georgia, a DUI will remain on your record forever. That’s why we consider getting a DUI charge reduced to a lesser charge a win!
- What if I have a DUI in Georgia, but I live in another State?
Georgia can suspend your privilege to drive here in the state, but it cannot suspend your out- of- state license. In addition, it cannot issue any kind of limited permit for a person with an out- of- state license. However, if convicted, the state in which you have your driver’s license will most likely be notified of your conviction. Your state will then likely issue some sort of suspension on you and your driving privileges. Another common question that our out- of- state DUI clients have is,” Will I have to return for court?”. The answer is most likely yes. Most out- of- state clients will have to return to Georgia in the county where they received their DUI for at least one court appearance.
- Will I go to Jail for This?
This is definitely one of the most common questions asked about DUIs. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. A DUI conviction generally carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a minimum period of 24 hours in jail. There are possible exceptions, but they are very specific to a case by case basis. With the increasing number of third- party injuries and fatalities from DUI accidents, it is no surprise that DUI charges have become very, very serious. Most judges will sentence some jail time for a convicted DUI, even for a first offense. Most judges will also recommend that the DUI is placed on your lifetime record. The law has specific penalties for DUI’s within a ten year period, but it is becoming increasingly more common for judges to look outside of that window to determine a convicted DUI sentence. Often, the judge’s sentence will be much harsher than the norm.
- Can I get a Work Permit if I am Convicted?
Being eligible to get a work permit after a DUI conviction will depend on a number of factors. If your DUI is a first time offense within five years, and you are not administratively suspended for a refusal, and if you have a Georgia Driver’s License, and you are not under 21 years old, then you should be able to get a work permit. That’s a lot to take in, so it’s in your best interest to come and meet with us so we can let you know if you are eligible for a work permit with a DUI charge.
If this is a second offense in five years, you cannot get a limited permit until 12 months after the suspension goes into effect and you must have an interlock ignition device installed on your car. If it is a third offense in five years, the permit is only available after two years. However, depending on administrative suspensions and differing situations, the scenario for you receiving a work permit can change. Again we recommend you come in to discuss your case with us so we can give you a more exact idea of what it will take for you to get your work permit.
- What the heck is an Interlock Ignition Device?
Great question! An Interlock Ignition Device is a device that could be installed on the steering column of your vehicle if you are convicted of a DUI. The device requires a breath sample in order for the car to be able to start. You can think of it as a permanent breathalyzer. It will only start if your breath doesn’t trigger its alcohol reading. In addition, the device will beep at regular intervals and require further breath samples to allow the car to continue to run. If any alcohol is detected at any time, the car will shut off. An interlock device is required on all second or more offenses within a five year period. If this is your second offense, but the first in five years, you still might be required to use an interlock device. Judges have the ability to impose an interlock as a special condition of probation, even if it’s your first offense in your lifetime.
Now you Know:
These are just a few of the most frequent questions we get from our DUI clients here at Cansino Law. Now you know that there is a lot that can be gained from hiring us to defend your DUI case. You might even be able to get the charge reduced or dropped. Even if you don’t have a DUI, we hope these questions are helpful in your understanding of DUI consequences in the event that you ever find yourself or someone important to you facing a DUI charge. There are sure to be many, many questions we didn’t cover in this post. We strongly hope that you will contact us for any further questions that we can answer for you. Be on the lookout for our next post that will detail the penalties for a convicted DUI, broken down by age and frequency of convictions. As always, we hope you will call us anytime to set up your DUI consultation!