In 2014 alone, 1.1 million DUI arrests were made in the U.S.
Most first-time arrests are the same for most people: frightening, unnerving and thoroughly confusing. A DUI arrest is no different.
So how do you give yourself the best chances of success?
Taking the proper steps right from your arrest is crucial in defending yourself and getting a better trial outcome.
What Is a DUI Charge?
While most people understand a DUI charge to be driving under the influence, it does not end there.
The law also provides that one can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle under intoxication.
- One has lost their physical or mental capacity due to drugs, alcohol or a combination of both
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or above
When you get arrested for a DUI, there are upfront consequences. These can include losing your license. This is imposed even before you have gone through a trial.
Once convicted after trial, you will have additional criminal charges.
These consequences emphasize the need to take the best measures immediately after an arrest. This will give you the best chances of a positive outcome.
Here is what to do when you get a DUI charge.
Submit to a Chemical Test
This is not only required in most states but also, a refusal is punishable by law.
The test is meant to give a clear picture of your condition and includes your blood alcohol levels.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
You have a constitutional right to stay silent.
Therefore, remain calm and responsive and cooperate with the officers until your lawyer arrives.
This action ensures you do not incriminate yourself. From the time of the arrest to when you get to the station, your conversations might be recorded.
Answer general questions truthfully and honestly and address the officers respectfully as well.
Talking too much opens you up to the possibility of making statements that might be harmful to your defense.
Your rights also allow you to contact an attorney, or to request a state-provided public defender.
Contact a DUI Attorney
All attorneys are not equal. For your DUI arrest, it’s in your best interest to get a DUI attorney to handle your case.
A DUI attorney is well versed in the field and has vast knowledge on the intricacies of DUI charges.
Read more on why you need a DUI attorney and not a general attorney on this website.
Full Disclosure on Your DUI Arrest
The more detailed the information you give to your lawyer, the better they can formulate a defense strategy.
Try and remember the details of your arrest as accurately as possible.
Here are some key details:
1. The activities leading up to your arrest.
2. Other condition that you might have. For example, were you feeling sleepy, are you unwell or on medication you could be reacting badly to?
3. Why were you pulled over? Is because you were driving too slowly, too quickly or erratically. Or was there a roadblock where police were testing people for drunk driving?
4. Inform your lawyer on all tests you were subjected to. These include field sobriety tests (like standing on one leg) and breathalyzers.
5. If you have not dealt with the DUI lawyer before, inform them on all past charges more so if this is your second DUI charge.
Any information you give your attorney is protected under the attorney-client privilege.
Being forthcoming with information ensures your lawyer is fully prepared to defend you and is able to explore any loopholes that may exist. These include irregularities in the manner the arrest was carried out.
Book a DMV Hearing
This gives you a chance to keep your license.
After an arrest, you have about ten days (inclusive of weekends) to make a formal DMV hearing request. This hearing determines whether you get to keep your license or not.
If you or your attorney forgo this, you will automatically lose your license.
Prepare for Your Arraignment
An arraignment is a court process where you take a plea. You can either plead guilty or not guilty.
While this is something that you will exhaustively discuss with your lawyer, pleading not guilty allows you to fight and win. A guilty plea, on the other hand, will deny you your constitutional rights such as the right to a jury trial.
A DUI conviction goes on your record. Once sufficient time has passed after your conviction, you can seek to have the record expunged.
This means the information is destroyed or sealed. Once this is done, future employers, landlords, schools and even government agencies will not be able to find out about it.
Life After DUI
In all states, a first offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, with punishments being penalties, possible community service and jail time not exceeding six months.
The punishment is harsher for second time offenders or offenders on probation.
For you, the time after such a charge should be reflective. Evaluate what led to the arrest and what your role in it was. If indeed you were drunk, then this is the time to turn things around.
Drunk driving can cost you your life, or even worse, someone else’s life.
It’s also at this juncture that you can start thinking about getting your license back. For this to happen, most states require you to go through a DUI school or other assessment programme.
This includes an evaluation from a professional counselor. In most states, these counselors have the power to send the offender to a substance use program.
In addition to this, most states will require you to seek additional insurance coverage before giving you back your driving rights.
The Final Say
Your best chances of getting through a DUI arrest is by having an expert DUI lawyer on your side.
You must be thinking this is a great time to cut off alcohol. And you are probably right! Read our blog here to see why that will be the best thing you will ever do for yourself.