Summer is almost here, bringing with it a slew of celebratory holidays. Many people commemorate Memorial Day and Independence Day with backyard barbecues or grilling out with friends in local parks or campgrounds.

Such gatherings often include a variety of alcoholic beverages, from homemade sangria to spritzers to good old-fashioned American beer. However, if you overestimated your tolerance level and are now facing DUI charges, you likely have many questions. Chief among them: Will you go to jail?

Penalties for a first-time DUI

Nebraska law takes drunk driving seriously. Even if you have never been stopped for DUI before, you face some serious penalties, including:

  • Seven to 60 days in jail
  • License revocation for six months
  • $400 to $500 in fines

Sixty days equates to two full months in jail. That’s no way to spend the rest of your summer. And don’t forget about the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction. Not only could you lose your job, but a DUI will show up on every background check. That means you could be screened out for future jobs, loans or rental properties. Some employers or property managers may be willing to see this as a one-time mistake, but most won’t.

Escalating penalties for escalating charges

Nebraska also has a long look-back period – 15 years, to be exact. This means that if you are convicted of a second, third or fourth DUI within 15 years of your first conviction, you face ever escalating consequences, up to years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. So, while it may seem like a good idea to simply plead guilty to “get this over with,” it could set a precedent for future trouble if you are ever stopped again.

Defending your rights

While these penalties are harsh, you have the right to defend yourself in court. There are many things a strong DUI defense lawyer can do to help you, including investigating whether police had probable cause to stop you or if the Breathalyzer machine was properly calibrated. Police and prosecutors can make mistakes. And, even if the evidence against you seems ironclad, your lawyer will see to it that you receive the best possible plea deal – especially if this truly was a one-time mistake.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking a DUI is “no big deal.” As you can see, even first-time DUI charges could lead to jail time. That alone makes them something you should take seriously.