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If you are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you may have to post bail and show up in court for your preliminary hearing. A first-time DUI charge may be a misdemeanor in some states. You should also have a competent DUI attorney to assist you with your criminal case.

First-time offenders for a DUI* who have not caused an accident and appear in court on time are often given probation with a suspended sentence or required to perform community service. They may also be required to attend a class on safe driving and pay a fine.

You can sometimes apply for a special hardship or occupational driver’s license if yours is revoked or suspended. An ignition interlock device, such as the new Draeger Interlock® 7000, may be recommended or even required in order to restore your license.

So, what happens if I don’t go to court after my first DUI?

There are rarely legitimate circumstances for a missed court date. This would only be excusable, for example, if you were severely injured, hospitalized or too ill to appear and your circumstances are timely communicated to your attorney and the court. Your attorney would ask for a new date based on your circumstances, such as recovery time.

Failure to Appear

You may experience serious consequences if you do not show up for your arraignment, preliminary hearing or other court dates and/or your trial. Consequences may include:

  • Bail forfeiture
  • Bail denial and your remaining in jail custody until final disposition of your criminal case
  • Driver’s license revocation or suspension
  • A “failure to appear” or FTA issued
  • The judge issues a bench warrant for your arrest

If you do not show up for any of your first DUI court dates, you may be considered a fugitive. The judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This does not place you on law enforcement’s “most wanted” list, but it does give the police authority to arrest you if you are stopped for any cause or the police otherwise come into contact with you since there is an FTA warrant*. Your name along with your suspended driver’s license and license plate are all in the department of motor vehicle and law enforcement records that the police can access from their vehicles.

You will be arrested again and jailed until bail is set. You will be given a new court date and remain in custody unless you can make bail, if you have new bail set. You may also be held in jail and denied future bail if you are considered a flight risk as evidenced by your prior failure to appear.

For a driver with a DUI and a bench warrant, you should discuss how to address this situation as soon as possible with your attorney.

Your Public Record

The information regarding your DUI arrest and FTA may in some cases be available publicly and if so, this record can be seen by anyone who wants to know your background. This includes your present or future employers, banks, landlords, and others who require a background check on you. A DUI and FTA could indicate that you may have a drinking problem and that you are not reliable.

Automobile insurance companies often run a background check of your driving record. Drivers with a DUI are usually subjected to higher auto insurance rates. A first-time offender with an ignition interlock device may be given a reasonable insurance rate. A driver with a DUI and FTA may have difficulty with insurance companies even with a restored license.

There is no statute of limitations on enforcement of a bench warrant for a FTA for a criminal case, including for drunk driving. If you leave the state where you were apprehended, you could be picked up years later if you return there, or in other states as well. The information on your DUI arrest can also be accessed by the police in another state. If you were subsequently arrested in another state, appear in court, and are sentenced in that jurisdiction, may then be possibly extradited and transported under guard to the state where your first DUI charge was made and bench warrant issued. In these situations, you are likely to spend a lot of time incarcerated.

At Draeger Interlock, we advise you to drink responsibly and not to drive after consuming alcohol. If, however, you are arrested for DUI and are required to get an ignition interlock as part of your criminal case, our devices will not allow you to start your vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or your lower personal limit ordered in your criminal case. This will help to avoid another DUI arrest on your record.

* Links to any third-party websites herein are provided for your reference and convenience only. Dräger did not create nor develop, and does not own, any such third-party website. Dräger does not endorse nor support the content of, nor any opinions stated in, any such third-party website links. Dräger is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or its accuracy. Nothing contained in this article or in any such third-party website shall be considered legal advice or be deemed to constitute legal advice. For any legal advice concerning a DUI arrest, charge, conviction or consequences thereof, you should contact an attorney of your choice.

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