Every year, roughly 1.5 million people in the United States are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI charge can have a significant impact on your life.
Consequences of being arrested for DUI include: having your license suspended or revoked altogether, high court fees and fines, jail time, and losing your job.
If this is the first time you’ve faced a DUI arrest, you’ll most probably be feeling a little confused. Most people don’t know what steps to take to defend themselves. That’s a serious situation, given that the consequences of DUI charges are almost always the same, whether you only took one drink or not.
In this friendly guide, we tell you what happens if you get a DUI charge and what you can do to remedy the situation. Read on to learn more.
What to Do When Arrested for DUI
The steps you take immediately following a DUI arrest can determine the outcome of your trial. Do the following to give yourself the best chances of coming out with minimal damages.
1. Take the Required Chemical Test
Most states require that you take a chemical test once you’ve been arrested. Refusing to take this test is a punishable offense under the law. The test you take reveals your blood alcohol level at the time of the arrest.
2. Write Down Every Detail
After you’ve had some time to relax, note down all you can remember about the DUI arrest. Don’t neglect any little details as these may help build your case. Some of the points you want to jot down include:
- The place you got pulled over
- The time of the arrest
- The tests you did after your arrest
- Details of the conversation you had with the police
- Any unusual thing you noticed
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to remember everything when you called upon to in court. Memory fades over time. Write everything down now.
3. Contact a DUI Lawyer
Whether you intend to accept the charges or to contest them, it’s essential that you hire a reputable attorney to represent you. A seasoned DUI attorney can guide you through your options and help you choose what works for you. If you are a first time offender, your attorney might even be able to get your charges dropped.
Once you hire a lawyer, they’ll be able to request a hearing within the set time limit, which is usually 10 days. Failure to stick to this time limit can result in your license being suspended for up to 18 months.
4. Adjust Your Online Profiles to Private
The prosecution will do their best to build a solid case against you. They may turn to your social media profiles for ammunition. That’s why you need to set your social media profiles to private immediately following your arrest.
What if there’s nothing on your profile to do with the night of your arrest or character? Well, lawyers are good at taking things out of context. The last thing you want is for the opposing attorney to twist your words to incriminate you.
5. Get Ready for Your Arraignment
Another helpful tip on how to fight a DUI charge is to make sure that you’re ready for the arraignment. No matter how bad things seem, don’t plead guilty. People fight and win DUI cases all the time.
As long as you have a capable DUI lawyer by your side, you stand a genuine chance of winning the DUI charges. Pleading not guilty will often give a jury trial. During such a trial, you have the opportunity to challenge the merits of the charges.
6. Be Present in Court When the Time Comes
Your lawyer will get a court date for you, and it’s important that you appear. This is the time to represent your best self. The first thing you need to do is dress in neat, courtroom attire. That means that you:
- Wear an official shirt, a tie, and slacks (for men)
- Put on a professional skirt, blouse, and slacks
- Avoid showing excessive skin
- Refrain from wearing casual shoes
In most cases, you won’t know the judge you’re going to face. For your own benefit, dress in a manner that doesn’t offend anyone.
Arrive early, so you have enough time to get composed. If you have a support system, they can accompany you to court. Make sure that they’re well-groomed too.
When your time to speak comes, be as polite as possible. Avoid yelling, making angry gestures, or behaving in a manner that makes a bad impression on the judge and the jury.
7. Accept Consequences
While your attorney will do the best they can to get your charges dropped, sometimes they may not be able to help you escape punishment for your offense. Penalties usually include:
- A fine
- Community service
- Suspension of your license
- Driver’s education courses
Sometimes, you may receive a combination of the penalties above. No matter what the sentence is, it’s vital that you follow through. If you need to complete a specific number of hours of community service, for instance, start as early as possible.
8. Get Your Driver’s License Back
After you’ve completed your sentence, you need to rebuild. Do what you need to for the reinstatement of your license.
Typically, DUI charges attract a license suspension of at least 180 days. If you feel that this time is too long, check whether you are eligible for a hardship license. This permit allows you to continue working during your suspension period.
9. Reexamine Your Car Insurance
Car insurance rates tend to go up following a DUI charge. The rates might even double. The great thing is that you can always find another insurance company that won’t charge you outrageous rates.
Look for insurance agencies that specialize in clients who are first-time DUI offenders. You’ll need to obtain FR 44 insurance as well. There are plenty of online resources that explain FR44 insurance and help you learn more about DUI charges.
Take the Right Action After a DUI Arrest
The moments following a DUI arrest can feel more like a whirlwind. Taking the appropriate steps after getting arrested for DUI can help you escape the severe consequences that come with the offense.
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