Whether it’s your first arrest or you’re a repeat offender, a DUI conviction in Louisiana has many harsh penalties. Jail time, license suspensions and fines are the consequences most people are familiar with and fear the most. The State may offer you a plea bargain where the more severe punishments are limited, but convictions have a lasting impact on items like your car insurance and future employment. An experienced DUI attorney will you advise of the risks associated with pleading guilty and will help you fight for your rights.
Car Insurance Rates and DUI’s
Louisiana law requires you to have auto insurance. The minimum coverage amounts are:
- $15,000 per person in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage
- $30,000 per accident for bodily injury and death.
If you are arrested for a DWI and lack proper insurance, you will face additional penalties for breaking the law, even if your intoxication did not cause the accident.
Following a first time DUI arrest, your car insurance premium will increase at a rate of nearly 30%, depending on your provider. With multiple DUI convictions, your rate will go up more and more.
Additionally, you’ll complete an SR-22 form upon your arrest that labels you a high-risk driver. Your insurance company and the state will both be notified of this change in your driving record. Should you lapse in your insurance payments, the company will let the state know that you are in violation of the SR-22 requirements. Louisiana fines drivers for a lack of proper coverage, and your license may be suspended, even if you are simply unable to pay the bills.
DUI convictions affect your insurance rates for 5 years or more. Thus, even a minor traffic offense during that time can cause your insurance bills to skyrocket. If you have too many traffic violations, the insurance company may also decline your coverage.
Don’t let a DUI conviction cause you a financial hardship. Call Bates and McMillin today for your best defense against drinking and driving charges.
The Effect of a DUI on Future Employment
A DUI conviction will certainly impact any career that involves driving and can ruin job opportunities for commercial drivers. Convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, however, can impact your job search for many other career fields.
As it is a criminal offense, a DUI could limit your ability to work in the insurance industry, in educational settings, the healthcare industry, personal security, etc. A list of jobs affected by a DUI conviction include:
- Lawyers and Paralegals
- Physicians and PA’s
- Professional CDL Drivers
- Police Officers
Employers in these fields conduct background checks and may not hire you if they see a conviction. Aside from certain certification requirements, Louisiana does not limit how employers use the information found in your background check. As a result,you have little restitution if an employer in any industry denies you a job because of your criminal record.
Furthermore, a DUI conviction will be considered by educational institutions when deciding to admit you or offer you a scholarship. If you are already a student, a DUI in college may result in a suspension and the loss of a scholarship or financial aid. Thus, the conviction may prevent you from receiving the training needed for the job of your choice.
Reducing Your Charge to “Wet Reckless”
If you were drinking and driving and think there is no way to escape punishment, you still need a lawyer. An experienced DUI attorney is the only one who can negotiate with the prosecution for a plea bargain. In Louisiana, a DUI arrest may be reduced to the charge of “wet reckless,” even if the person meets the criteria for driving while intoxicated.
Wet reckless fall under the reckless operation of a vehicle crime. The important difference between a wet reckless conviction and a DUI is that wet reckless is a misdemeanor. A DUI conviction could be a felony or misdemeanor, thus the penalties for a DUI are more severe.
The punishment for a wet reckless conviction includes up to 90 days in jail and $200 in fines, if the crime is a first offense. Repeat offenders may face a prison sentence between 10 and 180 days and fines up to $500.
Louisiana does not have specific provisions for what is required to reduce your DUI charges to reckless driving. Thus, a skilled defense attorney is necessary to argue in your favor and fight for your rights.
Don’t try to negotiate a plea bargain on your own. Let Bates and McMillin provide you with the best defense available.
Pleading Guilty is NOT your Only Option
You may feel helpless after a DUI arrest and may be worried about finances. Perhaps your car was damaged or you missed work due to an injury. Litigation can be expensive, so you may believe that pleading guilty is your only option. Many people try to avoid attorney’s fees and don’t even schedule a consultation to hear the advice of expert legal counsel. In return, pleading guilty may place a financial hardship on you due to the consequences discussed above.
You need an attorney for DUI arrests because these professionals know the most effective DUI defenses. Our experienced attorneys are also trained to uncover mistakes in the reports from the officer or the crime lab. Improper evidence or testimony could result in the judge dismissing all charges against you.
Private Attorney vs. Public Defender
Though you may be offered a free public defender, a private DUI attorney is the better legal option when arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Here are the top reasons to hire a private attorney:
- A private DUI attorney has better control over how many clients they are representing. Don’t risk an overworked public defender missing key evidence or errors in your case.
- Private attorneys train specifically in DUI litigation. Their expertise is more nuanced than that of a public defender who handles a wider variety of criminal defense cases.
- You have the ability to interview and choose your private attorney. It is important to have a good relationship with your legal representation, so the consultation with a DUI lawyer is vital. With the right attorney, communication will be easy, and you will feel that your interests are being protected.
- Many public defenders only attend the trial proceedings. A DUI attorney will also be at your hearings; offering you legal protection every step of the way.
- Even though a public defender may be free, a mistake could result in your DUI conviction. As the fines for a DUI are quite extensive, a private attorney may still be the less expensive option.
Don’t leave your legal representation up to chance. Hire the attorney that is the best fit for your case. Call our office now to schedule a free consultation!