You've just had a fun night out on the town with some friends. Despite not having a license, you decided to drive anyway. You head home after a few too many drinks. You end up getting pulled over for a slight swerve. The officer then asks you a few questions, walk a straight line and take a breathalyzer test. When it's all said and done, you are being charged with a DUI without a license and possibly being taken to jail for the night. What does that mean for your future?
Depending on what your local laws are, the crimes are treated quite harshly. Some states even recognize this as being on the same level as attempted murder. Known as “aggravated reckless driving” in most areas, you are looking at a misdemeanor; possibly a felony in some areas. If the charge is changed to a felony, you are looking at almost certain jail time along with some pretty stiff fines.
Furthermore, it will be nearly impossible to convince a jury you are not guilty of a DUI. Since you are technically being charged with two crimes, driving without a license and a DUI, juries will be hard on you. Most juries will view driving without a license as disregarding driving laws already, and are less likely to be open to the idea that you weren't impaired past the legal limit while driving. They are much less likely to have any pity on you and could seek the maximum allowed penalty by law for your recklessness. If you happen to get a favorable jury and it is your first major offense, they may be a little more lenient based on your lack of past record.
This will also lead to most likely extending the amount of time you must wait before applying for a driver's license again – in some cases, up to 5 years, or more. If you do decide to drive again in the time when your license is suspended, you could be liable for more hefty fines and some more unfavorable jail time.
Seeking legal counsel should be your first step when you are charged with a DUI when you don't have a license. You are most likely being charged with hefty fines, an overwhelming amount of court costs, and jail time to top it all off. Hiring legal consul can often help lower potential fines and lower jail time, and in some cases, completely eliminate jail time. Lawyers are not cheap, but the price you pay for lower fees and lower jail time will often pay for itself many times over.
While going out for a drink is a chance to relax and enjoy being with friends, think about the future consequences before driving if you don't have a license. A DUI with a license can already bring heaps of trouble your way. A DUI without a license can have permanent damage on your record for the rest your life. Making smart decisions about drinking and driving can prevent all of it.