You are at a friend’s having a good time. You’ve had a few drinks but feel okay to drive. You are generally responsible and have a spotless driving record. For whatever innocent reason, you get pulled over. A tail light is out, a blinker doesn’t work… whatever.
The police officer suspects you may have been drinking and gives you a sobriety test. He says you failed, arrests you and charges you with DUI. It’s a frightening set of circumstances that happen every day.
So what should you do?
Well, the absolute first thing is to contact a DUI lawyer and educate yourself on the legal process involved.
First, you need to understand the charges against you. Every state has their own laws and different names for drunk driving. There’s DUI (driving under influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated) and others. Most states categorize the offense as a misdemeanor, but it can be a felony for repeat offenders or if injury or death is involved. You can expect fines and community service, the possible loss of your license, and in more serious cases, jail time.
What To Do If You Are Arrested
1) Be respectful at all times and exercise your right to remain silent. Remember, anything you say can be used against you; so the less you say, the better off you are. You don’t want to say anything that can potentially incriminate you.
2) Exercising your right to remain silent means you do not have to answer any questions from police officers or investigators. State your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney.
3) You will want to exercise your right to an attorney as soon as possible. This should be offered to you when you are taken into custody. Remember, if you cannot afford an attorney then you should ask for one to be appointed to you. This is what is known as a public defender.
Once you have legal representation you will need to work with your attorney on your defense. This is when a good attorney with experience is good to have on your side. They understand the system and all the effective defenses you can present in court.
It is possible for you to prove that you are not guilty or that the evidence is not sufficient to convict you. Some of these defenses could involve simple and honest reasons for your erratic driving other than impairment. For example, some of these could include a sudden distraction, lack of sleep or even allergy medication. Other valid defenses your attorney can use is to argue the accuracy of field sobriety and blood tests.
At this point your case can be dismissed or plea bargained. If you have a strong defense the prosecution may offer you a lesser charge to avoid going to court. In many cases your attorney may try to enter into a plea bargain for a lighter sentence on your behalf.
In any case, it is always best to get good legal representation. Remember, your license is an important part of your life and livelihood. Violations against your record can hurt you in many ways including credit reports and higher insurance costs. Don’t let them cause you harm unnecessarily.