Were you recently pulled over by the police and accused of drunk driving? If so, then you need to know what you are up against moving forward. Drunk driving charges are quite serious and can threaten to upset any stability you have in your life. Therefore, before going head-to-head with prosecutors, you need to understand the law and how to build a strong criminal defense.

Even a first DUI can negatively affect your future. If you are convicted of having a blood alcohol content below .17 and it is your first offense, you could still face nearly 100 days in jail. You can also be fined $500, be forced to complete 360 hours of community service, and face a six-month license suspension.

Similar penalties await first time offenders who have a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher. These individuals can be hit with 180 days in jail, a $700 fine, 360 hours of community service, and a yearlong driver’s license suspension. But that’s not all. These individuals, if convicted, are required to complete an alcohol treatment program and comply with an ignition interlock device system for a certain period of time. Of course, subsequent convictions and those that involve injuries or death can result in even harsher penalties.

To avoid the penalties as much as possible and protect your future from the ugly mar of a criminal record, you need a strong criminal defense. A skilled legal advocate may be able to help you challenge the validity of field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests, suppress evidence gathered after an illegal stop, or negotiate lesser charges and penalties. These matters are very fact-sensitive, though, which means that you need an individualized approach to your case. The good news is that aggressive advocates can help you fight to protect your future every step of the way.