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What to expect with a first-time DUI

Facing criminal charges for the first time is nearly always a frightening experience. You may expect a first driving under the influence (DUI) charge to be different, but the process and possible outcome can put you at just as much risk as some other charges.

Underestimating the severity of a DUI conviction and the hardships it may cause is a common mistake for first-time offenders. The information below can help you understand the gravity of your circumstances and take protective steps against conviction.

Know what’s at stake

A first-time DUI in South Dakota is a Class 1 misdemeanor, leading many to assume it will only lead to a slap on the wrist. The truth is much different. Possible penalties for a first DUI offense include the following:

  • Up to a year of jail time
  • Fines of up to $2,000
  • Mandatory license suspension for 30 days to a year

In some first-time and subsequent DUI cases, courts order offenders to install an ignition interlock device – paid for out-of-pocket – on their vehicles.

Expect additional consequences

Beyond the legal penalties, a DUI conviction can impact your life in other ways. For example, your car insurance premiums will likely increase, potentially jeopardizing your ability to obtain affordable coverage. You may be unable to get insurance at all. Further, a conviction can hinder your employment prospects, as certain professions may become inaccessible due to this offense.

If you are facing DUI charges for the first time, you need to do all you can to minimize the severity of your situation. It’s important to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights.