Being arrested for a DUI is a stressful process, but knowing what to do can save you a lot of headaches throughout the process. It begins with a ride in the back of a cop car, and generally ends with your day in court or, if convicted, getting your license back. To make sure these proceed efficiently, you must remember important things to do.
It can be easy to become irrational after being arrested, but you must always keep your wits about you. It will help you to remember the incident clearly and make sure you do not do anything to cause yourself harm physically or legally.
Refuse Any Tests
When the arresting officer takes you back to the police station, one of the first things they will try to do is get you to take a breath, blood, or urine test. These tests are a continued part of the officer’s investigation. The best option, therefore, is to refuse the tests, especially if you think there is any possibility that your BAC is .08 or above.
If it is your first time refusing such tests, you will be informed that your license will be suspended for six months automatically under implied consent laws. However, that can be appealed within 30 days of your arrest.
Refusing the test makes sure that you do not implicate yourself any further. It is then up to the court if your refusal was enough evidence in itself to convict you, which is much preferred for a lawyer to argue, as compared to concrete BAC evidence. Statistics also back up that assertion, because people who refuse testing are convicted at a lower rate than those who do not.
Recollect the Arrest
Write down everything you can remember about the arrest, including as much detail as possible. Time is of the essence when recollecting your arrest, because the longer you wait to write things down, the more you will forget.
Some important things to write down:
- How much you drank
- The behavior of both you and the officer during the initial traffic stop and subsequent arrest
- Why you were initially pulled over
- If the officer went through every necessary procedure, including reading you the Miranda rights
- Which sobriety or chemical tests you took, if any
- Anything else you can remember
Hire an Attorney
Once you are let out of the police station, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced with DUI defenses. The quicker you contact an attorney, the quicker he or she can begin working on your case. The law office will also help guide you through a trying time.
Hiring a lawyer gives you the absolute best chance to avoid a conviction that would haunt you for the rest of your life. DUI cases are especially technical in nature, and the slightest slip-up by an officer could get you off the hook. An experienced attorney can find those technicalities and do his or her best to make sure you got a fair trial.
Penalties for being convicted of a DUI can include jail time, so finding the best lawyer can be paramount to keeping your freedom. Even if you are convicted, they almost guarantee that your punishment is less than it would have been otherwise. Penalties become even more severe on subsequent offences and, with that, lawyers become even more important.
Go to Court
Missing court comes with more legal trouble and, after being charged with a DUI, that is the last thing you need. A good lawyer will make sure you know when your court date is and have you there as well.
Once court is over, you will either have gotten off or have a punishment. In the case of having gotten off, you are done with this incident, but, if you were convicted, you still have a road ahead of you. Unless you are going to appeal, the best thing you can do is just serve your punishment and then move on with your life.
After completing your punishment, you may even be able to earn an expungement of the conviction if it is your first offense. This keeps employers or other entities from finding out you were ever convicted of this crime. A good lawyer will be important in the expungement process as well.
Get You License Back and Obtain Proper Insurance
If you are convicted of a DUI, you will most likely have had your license suspended or revoked. It is important to go through the process of getting it back so your life can get back to normal as soon as possible after completing your sentence. You can begin the process by getting a provisional license if you meet the criteria.
Getting a DUI will also most likely cause your insurance company to deem you to be too much of a risk and drop you. This puts up a red flag for other insurance companies and deters them from taking you. Often, after getting a DUI, you will need to get a policy with a company that specializes in high risk policies, at least for a while. These companies have higher premiums, but allow you to drive legally while you prove you are no longer a high risk.
After having a suspended or revoked license, and you get insurance, you will need to file for an SR-22. This is proof that you meet the standard of state required insurance. You have to keep the certificate for three years, which generally begins after the ending date of losing your license. Specifically, in South Carolina, you must also pay a $100 reinstatement fee and attend an ADSAP class. If you offend for a second time, you will also be forced to install an ignition interlock device program, which is a breathalyzer you must blow into before starting your car.
Getting arrested for a DUI is a terrible experience, but, by following the steps above, the process can go more smoothly. DUIs are a completely avoidable evil. Ride services offer safe rides home, and the cost incurred there is minuscule, compared to that of the DUI process.
There are also ways to check if your BAC is close to the legal limit or not, with pocket breathalyzers. These devices are not totally accurate, but they can give you a good idea if you might be too impaired to drive. The reading could also serve as a wakeup call, since drunk people never seem to realize how drunk they are.
Knowledge of the drunk driving laws in your state will also help you in avoiding DUIs. However, the easiest way to avoid them is to not get behind the wheel after drinking.