If you've recently been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may be worried about the impact a conviction or guilty plea will have on your ability to drive. For most Americans who don't have easy access to public transportation, driving is a must for transporting kids, getting to work, and even getting groceries. But a DUI can leave you without a license for anywhere from a few months to a few years. Read on to learn more about your options for keeping your license after a DUI arrest.
How Long Could You Be Without a License After a DUI?
For those facing their first DUI, a license suspension could be in effect for 3 months to a year or longer. Second or subsequent offenses could mean a longer (or mandatory) suspension. And if you think that refusing a breathalyzer test is the easiest way to keep yourself from losing your license, think again—in many states, this is an automatic license suspension even if you weren't actually legally intoxicated. And if you're in an accident that results in injury, you'll often be required to take either a breathalyzer or a blood test before you're released.
Is There Any Way to Keep Your License if You've Been Convicted?
There are a few different options for people who need ready access to transportation during this time.
The first is a conditional or hardship license. If you can't afford to take a taxi to work, don't have the ability to work from home, and will lose your job if you're not able to drive, most courts will permit you to drive to and from your job (and other approved locations) even during your license suspension. It's likely that an ignition interlock device will be installed on your car before you're granted your hardship license—this device requires you to breathe into it to start your car and then to breathe into it randomly, upon request, while you're driving. If the ignition interlock device detects any alcohol in your bloodstream, your car will turn off.
You can also choose to plead not guilty and take your chances at a trial. If the state doesn't have enough evidence to show that you are guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of driving under the influence, you'll be acquitted and shouldn't face any license suspension (unless you refused to take a breathalyzer at the scene). But this gamble can backfire—if you're convicted, you'll face the typical license suspension unless you can plead your case for a hardship license. If you're facing a DUI, don't hesitate to reach out to a DUI attorney for help navigating these tricky situations.