Getting charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is a scary experience, especially if you’ve never faced such a serious allegation before. You’re bound to have many questions, including whether you can go to jail for a first-time DUI in Kansas City. The best thing you can do is hire a DUI lawyer right away to explain the potential consequences of a DUI conviction and help you form a defense.
Can You Go to Jail for a First-Time DUI in Kansas City?
Potential Penalties and Fines
For a first-time DUI offense, the potential penalties and fines range from relatively minor to relatively severe. If you’re convicted of the DUI, you will be required to pay a fine that can range from a minimum of $750.00 to as much as $1,000, so there’s not much leeway a judge has when determining your fine. You will pay at least $750.00, but the maximum is only $250.00 more. However, the financial penalties of a DUI aren’t what most people fear the most.
In Missouri, you’ll spend at least some time in jail for a first-time DUI if you are found guilty in a court of law. If convicted, a first-time DUI carries a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum term of six months. While two days may not sound like long, six months certainly might, particularly if you’ve never been in jail before. You’ll have to be found not guilty to avoid at least a two-day stint behind bars.
As a first-time DUI offender, your driving license may also be suspended for a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of one year. This penalty usually rests on the chemical test results that show what your blood alcohol level was at the time you were arrested. You’ll also be required to install an ignition interlock on your car that will prevent you from starting it if the device detects alcohol on your breath when you get behind the wheel.
The good news is that there are usually options available for first-time DUI offenders that aren’t available for someone who has multiple DUIs on their record. For instance, you may be able to attend an alcohol education class or participate in community service as part of your sentence rather than making you spend several months in jail. Of course, the best option is to be found not guilty, which is where hiring an experienced DUI attorney comes in.
Why Hire a DUI Lawyer for a First-Time Offense
DUI Laws Are Complex
Even if this isn’t your first arrest for a DUI, you probably still don’t know everything there is to know about DUI law. An experienced DUI attorney, though, knows how to prepare an effective defense that highlights the strengths of your case while carefully minimizing the weaknesses. There are so many nuances to the law, and understanding how to take advantage of the laws that are designed to help defendants is key to getting an acquittal.
There Is a Lot of Paperwork
When you’re facing a DUI conviction, you can’t afford to miss a filing deadline or misplace an important document. Hiring a lawyer to take care of this procedural paperwork ensures that you won’t be convicted on a technicality. Your attorney knows when every filing date is and exactly which documents are critical to your defense. They’ll be prepared to defend you in court, keep you out of jail, and prevent you from losing your driver’s license.
Consequences Are Severe
As already mentioned, the penalties and fines for even a first-time DUI conviction can be severe, and they’re more likely to fall on the harsh side if you don’t have an attorney helping mitigate the offense. Not only do you face fines, jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license, but you could also lose your job, harm your close relationships, and adversely impact your mental health. These are losses that can be avoided if you’re found not guilty.
Getting a DUI conviction requires a significant number of scientific procedures, including a blood test and a breathalyzer test. An experienced DUI attorney will understand the science behind these tests so they can dispute them if necessary. Your conviction relies on the accuracy of these tests, so if they were contaminated or in any way altered, they’ll be able to successfully argue against their validity, paving the way for a not guilty verdict.
Not every DUI case goes to court, since many defendants plead to lesser charges before a court date is ever set. However, if you plan to fight your charges to the end, you’re going to need an attorney who has experience arguing cases in front of a judge and jury. The best DUI attorneys have litigated hundreds of DUI cases in a courtroom, so they’re more than comfortable presenting even the most difficult of cases to juries and judges.
Support and Assurance
One of the most underrated benefits of hiring a DUI attorney is the support you receive as you’re going through one of the most difficult times in your life. People who get charged with DUIs are often shunned in society, even before they’ve ever been convicted, so it can be hard to find someone who is on your side. With the right attorney, you’ll have someone who will fight relentlessly to achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf.
Access to Investigators
DUI cases are not always straightforward, so you may need an investigator to help you obtain evidence to support your case. An attorney will have access to an investigator who knows how to find witnesses and get their statements, reconstruct the scene if a collision was involved, and collect and preserve evidence. This is not something you should attempt to do on your own, since it carries more weight if a professional takes care of this aspect of your case.
Plea Negotiation Is an Art
If it looks like you might be convicted of a DUI charge, it could benefit you to plead to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. Your attorney will know if it’s time to consider a plea and will negotiate the best possible deal for your situation. For instance, they could possibly negotiate no jail time in exchange for extra alcohol classes and counseling. Or, you could keep your license if you agree to additional community service hours.
Undoubtedly, you’re going to experience significant stress while you’re going through the legal system and waiting for your court date to arrive. You might not even have your license during this time because it can legally be held from you until your case is decided. Hiring an attorney can take some of this stress off your shoulders. There will still be fear of the unknown, but at least you know you’ll be prepared when your case comes before a judge.
Saves Some Money
One of the biggest reasons people hesitate to hire a lawyer when facing a DUI is they think they won’t be able to afford one. However, hiring a good, experienced DUI attorney right from the start can actually save you money. This is because they’ll know all the procedures and processes to get your case through the system as quickly as possible. When you’re paying for someone’s time, the less time your case takes, the more money you’ll save.
Since this is your first DUI, you might be tempted to defend yourself instead of hiring a lawyer. This could be a mistake, especially if you want to stay out of jail and keep your license. Call Billam & Henderson, LLC today to book your initial consultation and let us develop a winning defense strategy for your case.