Facing criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) is serious. Officials will likely approach you after an arrest and offer a plea deal. This may seem like a great idea. You may think, “If I just accept this deal, it will all go away, and I can move on with my life.”
This is a dangerous thought.
These officials do not have your best interests in mind. You must advocate for your rights. The first step is to realize that the quick answer, taking the deal, is generally not the best in the long run. Instead, it is often best to put time and effort into the early stages of the process to better ensure the best possible outcome.
Next, understand what is at risk. The penalties for a DUI vary by state. In Montana, a conviction for a first time DUI can come with:
- Imprisonment. You will likely face at least 24 hours and up to six months imprisonment.
- Fines. You will also face $600 to $1,000 in fines.
It is important to note that other factors can impact the penalties. If, for example, there is a child under the age of sixteen in the vehicle at the time of the alleged DUI, the state can push to double these penalties.
These penalties are in addition to the social stigma that can come with a conviction and the hurdles that are present when you have a criminal record. This can make it difficult to find employment, housing, even to get scholarships to pursue higher levels of education.
What are my options?
The stop and charge are not the end of the story. You can fight back and reduce the charges or avoid a conviction. State and federal laws require officers follow strict protocol when making a stop and gathering evidence. Any failures to follow these rules can mean there is a problem with evidence. If the protocol is not followed, the court will throw out the evidence.
This is just one of many possibilities to consider when building a defense to these accusations. An attorney experienced in DUI law in your area can review your situation and provide guidance.