After having “just a few” drinks, you thought the short drive home would be a piece of cake. But a police officer called your bluff, pulled you over, administered a breathalyzer test, and arrested you for driving under the influence.
Now what? You officially have an arrest record thanks to one poor decision. Will your driver’s license be suspended? Will your go up? Will you owe a steep fine and/or face jail time?
Here’s what you need to know about your DUI charge and the steps you can take to mitigate any repercussions.
Immediately Write Down Everything That Happened Before, During and After Your Arrest
Before you do anything else, write down your full account of everything that happened leading up to, during and after your arrest, including how much you had to drink, when you had your last drink and when you were arrested. Don’t rely on your memory! You’ll be surprised at how much you can forget about an event, even just one day later.
Call a DUI Attorney
One thing’s for certain: you don’t need to just accept whatever the judicial system throws at you when it comes to a DUI. But for the best , you need a good attorney who specializes in DUI cases.
According to , “in rare situations, a knowledgeable DUI attorney may be able to show a prosecutor that their case has factual or legal problems, and the prosecutor may be convinced or forced to dismiss the case.” However, a straightforward dismissal is unlikely. There is a greater chance that your attorney will simply be able to lessen the charges, get you acquitted or help you navigate the consequences of a DUI charge.
Either way, you need an attorney who knows what they’re doing. Now is not the time to call up the lawyer who helped your cousin file for divorce. Lawyers have specialties, just like doctors. To get one that knows DUI laws like the back of their hand, ask some of the following questions:
- How long have you been representing DUI cases?
- How many DUI cases have you handled, and what is the most common outcome for cases like mine?
- What makes my case challenging?
- Who will be handling my case in your practice?
Be Prepared for Possible Outcomes
Your attorney may be able to get the charges dropped altogether or to have you acquitted during the trial. But other possible outcomes may include:
- A DUI diversion program. The exact details of each program depend on the issuing state, but these programs are designed to prevent first-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders. Generally, you will need to complete a drug and/or and attend various educational classes during a specific time frame. Upon successful completion of the program, charges are typically dismissed. You may need to pay a fee in order to participate in the diversion program.
- A suspended license. A license suspension can last for as little as three months to as long as three years. In rare cases, you may face a lifetime suspension. The timeframe for suspension increases with each subsequent DUI charge. In other words, if you are a first-time offender, expect your license to be suspended for only a matter of months. You may be able to avoid suspension altogether depending on your state’s diversion program rules and regulations.
- A hardship permit. If you are convicted of a DUI and face license suspension, you may be able to apply for a in some states. This permit allows you to drive on certain roads in order to get to work, to look for work, or to go to drug and/or alcohol treatment. A letter from the employer is often required for a hardship work permit, simply verifying your work schedule for the court.
A DUI charge does not necessarily result in jail time or a hefty fine. You are more likely to walk away with minimal consequences if this is your first time being arrested for driving under the influence. With each subsequent arrest, the consequences become more severe. Take this lesson to heart! In the meantime, get a good lawyer on your side.