If you've recently been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and have yet to receive any notification from court or your state, you are probably worried about losing your driving privileges. It does take a bit of time to get notified as to what will happen and what is expected of you. In the meantime, this guide may help explain a few things about what you'll need to do in the future regarding your driver's license.
Criminal court vs. administrative hearing
Understand that you'll be dealing with two different processes that are related to your DUI offense: criminal court and the driver's licensing entity of your state. Your driving privileges are handled separately in an administrative hearing by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or similar entity) in your state.
This means that even if your DUI case is reduced or thrown out, you may still lose your driver's license and need to go through the process of reinstating your driving privileges, especially if you failed a breathalyzer or a blood alcohol test. Depending on the clerical processes of your state, it may take several weeks or a full month to receive notification about your administrative hearing.
You will be given the opportunity to discuss your case at the administrative hearing. However, it is highly unlikely that the state will rule in your favor without a DUI attorney to help you. Even so, you may still not be able to get out of losing your driving privileges. The state is obligated to keep public safety in mind, first and foremost.
Ignition interlock device & a restricted license
Fortunately, 23 states have enacted ignition interlock device laws. Many people rely on their driver's licenses and vehicles to get back and forth to work. Ignition interlock devices allow DUI offenders to drive to necessary locations while keeping the public safe. An ignition interlock device has a breathalyzer which you will blow into and your vehicle will start if no alcohol is detected.
Before this device can be installed in your vehicle, you will need to obtain a restricted license from your DMV. There is usually a small fee to have a restricted license made. You will also be expected to pay a fee to have the ignition interlock installed in your vehicle, as well as a monthly fee to process the information from the device. The number of months you'll be required to have the device depends on the laws of your state.
DUI classes & driver safety training
You will also need to attend classes, particularly for alcohol abuse and safe driving practices. Again, the number of classes will depend on the laws of your state and if there are any other circumstances regarding your case, such as your alcohol level and whether or not an underage person was in your vehicle at the time of your arrest.
These classes are typically held once a week and designed to meet different scheduling requirements of those who need to attend the classes. Therefore, you shouldn't have to worry about missing work hours to attend the classes.
Before you are able to reinstate your driver's license, you'll need to obtain what is called an SR22 insurance so your insurance company can notify the state that you've met your financial obligation of having vehicle insurance. In simple terms, this shows the state that you have the coverage you need in case you cause a vehicle accident in the future.
This is necessary because you are now considered a high-risk driver who is more likely to cause accidents, especially after the ignition interlock device is removed from your vehicle. Your state will not reinstate your regular, non-restricted driving privileges if you do not complete the DMV's requirements and obtain an SR22 certification from your insurance company. You can learn more about your options by visiting resources like http://www.greatnortherninsuranceagency.com.