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Understanding a First Offense DUI in Fairfax

Being charged with a first offense DUI in Fairfax is, for many people, among the scariest things that has ever happened to them. Not only does a DUI conviction come with expensive fines, the loss of your license, and the possibility of jail time, but it can wreak havoc on your relationships and even your ability to work. While a DUI is certainly a worrisome charge, with a first offense there is often still hope. By working with a qualified Fairfax DUI attorney, you may be able to receive a better outcome than you would if you tried to defend yourself in court. At S&R Law Firm, PLLC, we have fought for the rights of many people convicted of a first time DUI and we will fight for yours too.

The Court Process for First Time DUIs

To be frank, Fairfax County courts treat DUIs as serious crimes, often slapping even first-time offenders with hefty penalties and fines. Since DUIs can seriously impact people’s lives, judges see it as their duty to protect Fairfax citizens from the dangerous situations created when someone drives under the influence. Harsh punishments act as deterrents to others, reminding them that driving after even a few drinks is not worth it.

All first time DUIs in Fairfax first go to the General District Court. There is no jury, only a judge, a prosecutor, and a defense attorney if you hire one. Since a DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious class of misdemeanor, prosecutors tend to prosecute these cases aggressively, calling for severe penalties. If you decide to represent yourself in court, facing a prosecutor alone can be incredibly intimidating. For the average person, successfully defending themselves in the face of such serious charges and stressful circumstances is simply not possible.

In these cases, working with a DUI attorney in Fairfax is the best course of action, as a knowledgeable attorney will be able to get you a better outcome than you could get on your own. The good news is that if it is your first offense, your blood alcohol concentration was low, and your criminal record is otherwise clear, a lawyer may be able to help you. S&R Law Firm, PLLC offers free consultations on DUI cases where we can answer your questions and tell you more about your rights and possible outcomes of your case.

Penalties to Expect for First Time Fairfax DUIs

Since DUIs are class 1 misdemeanors, they carry serious penalties. The mandatory minimum fine for a first offense DUI is $250, but the charge carries a maximum fine of $2500. How much you are fined will depend on a variety of factors, including your breathalyzer results, whether or not an accident occurred, whether anyone was hurt in the incident, and if there was any property damage. Every case is different, so it is difficult to predict the monetary penalty of any first-time offense. An experienced DUI attorney serving Fairfax can give you a better sense of the various penalties you may face.

In addition to fines, first time DUI convictions can result in jail time of up to 12 months. Again, this depends on the factors surrounding your case. If your blood alcohol content was between .15 and .20, you will spend a mandatory minimum of five days in jail. If your BAC was .21 or more, you will face a 10-day minimum jail stay. A DUI conviction will also remain on your driving record for 11 years.

On top of these punishments, if you are convicted of a first time DUI in Fairfax, you will also necessarily lose your license for a year. In addition, you will have to participate in an alcohol program known as ASAP. This mandatory program is intended to change the behavior of people who have been convicted of driving under the influence. It costs participants hundreds of dollars, which can create an additional financial burden for those convicted of a DUI. The expenses of a DUI often continue once your license is restored, as you will have to purchase an ignition interlock system, an expensive breathalyzer that requires you to blow before driving your car, for at least 6 months.

While expenses and jail time can create hardships, the most difficult part of getting a DUI in Virginia is often the fact that it will stay on your criminal record forever. This can make applying for jobs or for military service challenging to say the least. This is especially true for professions that require you to drive or use a company vehicle.

How Can a Fairfax DUI Lawyer Help Me?

While all of this may sound grim, working with a local lawyer can be immensely beneficial to your case. A good lawyer who is experienced in fighting DUI charges will be able to evaluate the evidence in your case and identify and challenge flawed evidence and errors in the arrest process. It is also not uncommon for a breathalyzer or blood test to be done inaccurately due to faulty or mis-calibrated equipment or improper use of that equipment, and a lawyer will know how to mount this defense. A lawyer can also often help first time offenders retain their license rather than having it suspended, which can make a huge difference in many people’s lives, especially if you must drive to make a living.

If you have been charged with a first offense DUI in Fairfax, contact S&R Law Firm, PLLC. We offer free consultations and can give you a clear sense of your rights while answering your tough questions. Contact us today at 703-273-6431.

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