The Social Consequences of a DUI
Every year, speeding drivers get involved in accidents, that result in injury or even death. Distracted drivers who are texting behind the wheel are now targeted in campaigns to stop deadly accidents. Even drivers too tired to be on the road are responsible for traffic accidents across the country. However, when a driver is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, they are hit with public shame unlike with other dangerous driving violations.
Driving while impaired can be very dangerous, and has resulted in a number of accidents and even death. The consequences of a DUI conviction may include fines of almost $1,000, a minimum of 40 hours of community service, a mandatory DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, a clinical evaluation at your own cost, substance abuse treatment program and a driver's license suspended for a year. But the consequences don't end there.
For many people arrested for a DUI, they may immediately feel judged by family members, friends, co-workers and even neighbors. Rumors can spread fast, and an inaccurate story surrounding your arrest can result in a public shaming even before they ever have their day in court to tell their side of the story. The problem is that a DUI is treated differently than many other criminal offenses, and people are quick to jump to conclusions to judge you.
Anti-DUI groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been campaigning for years for stiffer DUI penalties. They have pushed legislators to lower the DUI limits to 0.08% BAC. For many lawmakers, “drunk drivers” may seem like an easy target. However, the public stigma against DUIs does not seem to take into account the vast number of people who find themselves on the other side if a DUI arrest.
People from all walks of life can be arrested for a DUI. Both rich and poor, and everyone in between. I've seen teachers, pilots, construction workers, politicians, stay-at-home parents, college students, fast food employees, and just about anyone else, all arrested for an Atlanta DUI.
For many people who don't know someone who was arrested for a DUI, it may just be because they never found out their friend, family member or co-worker was arrested. Just like when someone finds out a loved one was arrested for a DUI, their first thought may be that it is impossible, that that person could never get a DUI. Often this is because the image of someone arrested for a DUI is drunk driver. When we think of “drunk driver,” it is someone who is wasted, a drunk who was drinking beer all day, and decided to get behind the wheel. The truth is that DUI arrests can affect just about anyone.
It Is Not Only Drunks Who Get Arrested for a DUI
While some people say they would never drink and drive, the reality is not so simple. Imagine going out to an event, and just having one drink. You decide to head home and something as simple as a busted taillight gets you pulled over. The officer asks if you've been drinking, and you tell the truth--one drink. Sure, the police officer hears that all the time. Then they ask you to do some field sobriety tests, and even though you think you passed, the officer says you failed, but won't tell you why. The next thing you know, you are in the back of a police car on the way to the police station, all for driving after just one drink. It has happened.
In another situation, people can be arrested even without drinking ANY alcohol. Imagine coming home from a long day of work, after a very stressful project. You're in such a hurry to get home that you aren't paying close attention and don't notice another car in the lane you were merging into. You correct in time to avoid an accident, but then a police car lights you up. You may say that you were just tired, but they ask if you are taking medication. You tell the officer of some prescribed painkillers you are taking for a back injury, and the next thing you know the officer has decided you are going to be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.
While these may not be the typical cases for a DUI, many of which involve someone thinking they are okay to drive, while actually having an alcohol content over the legal limit, but it is important to know that just because someone was arrested for a DUI does not mean that they are guilty of any crime. The police can arrest you on suspicion of a DUI, but it is up to the court to determine if you are guilty. That's how our justice system works in America. Unfortunately, some people chose to ignore that, and make up their own determination that you are guilty.
For many people, they see alcohol as a vice, as something that results in all kinds of bad things for society. They don't see how millions of people enjoy a glass of wine or pint of beer responsibly, while bonding with friends over dinner or at a sporting event. They only see it as the cause of drunk driving accidents. After all, our country has a history of demonizing alcohol, without taking into consideration that most people drink responsibly.
For other people who know someone who was injured in a DUI accident, they may take the fact that you were arrested for a DUI to mean that you are an irresponsible person who could have caused an accident, even if the facts later show that you were below the legal limit, and have your case dismissed.
Word of your DUI arrest may get out, but due to the fact that so many people are arrested every day for violating DUI laws, most people never have to know about your DUI. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will have a public criminal record, and may have to tell prospective employers that you were convicted of a DUI. However, if you fight to have your DUI charges reduced or dismissed, you may avoid a conviction altogether, which can mean no criminal record, no suspended license, and no loss of your freedom.
DUI Defense Lawyer
The best way to avoid public shaming after a DUI is to make sure you never get convicted in the first place. A Georgia DUI arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. You don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested for a one-time mistake. At Lawson and Berry we have successfully fought to have our clients' charges reduced or dismissed entirely. With my extensive training, experience in the courtroom, and understanding of how the police and prosecutors make their case, we will be the one you can rely on to fight for your rights.