Being arrested or charged for driving under the influence (DUI) can be frightening and confusing, especially if it is your first time. What should you do? Do you automatically lose your driving license? Should you call a lawyer? Remember that a DUI arrest does not mean you are guilty. You have rights and should have been told them if arrested. Most importantly, cooperate with the officer to avoid further trouble. Also, knowing what steps to take after a DUI arrest goes a long way toward protecting your rights.
Avoid discussing the matter with the officer
It is not a good idea to discuss anything with the police without your lawyer whenever you are arrested. Besides, there is nothing much you can say to change the officer’s mind when they have decided to arrest you. Similarly, it is hard to convince a prosecutor not to issue charges once arrested for DUI.
Therefore, you should avoid discussing anything with the officer even if you have a strong alibi or evidence. Keep that conversation for your attorney, who will know how to use it best for your benefit. Even if the officer asks you to talk about your DUI arrest, it is best to decline and ask to speak to your attorney.
Record what happened
According to DUI lawyers at cohenwinters.com, you should record all the details of your arrest after your release from jail. You can write everything down from when the officer pulled you over to your release or save a voice note on your phone. These questions can help you detail everything:
- What did I say to the officer?
- What did the officer say was the main reason for pulling you over?
- Did they order you to get out of the car?
- Did they ask for field sobriety tests?
- Did you do a breath test?
- Did the police give you an option between a breath and blood test?
- Did you make a statement after the arrest?
Consult a DUI attorney
When arrested for a DUI charge, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced DUI attorney. Keep in mind that DUI laws can be complex and require in-depth knowledge and experience, which is why you should never hire just any attorney when dealing with such a charge. Although a general attorney can represent you in court, you have higher chances of a favorable outcome with an experienced DUI lawyer.
Moreover, if it is your first time being arrested for driving under the influence, you will have many questions, and a simple consultation with a DUI lawyer can help you understand what is at stake.
Find potential witnesses
If you are arrested for DUI, the high chances are that you were coming from a bar, a restaurant, or a friend’s place. After your release, start recalling the people you were with earlier in the day and where you were. In most cases, the officer will not do any investigations after your DUI arrest because they believe they have sufficient evidence to charge you.
On the other hand, you may be able to find a witness who may help your case. Your DUI lawyer can contact your potential witnesses, listen to their accounts, and see how it can help your case. For instance, the people you were with earlier in the day may testify that you had nothing to drink and that you were sober before getting behind the wheel.
Besides identifying potential witnesses, it is good to gather any possible evidence to help your case. For instance, if you were at the restaurant before the arrest, you can request the billing showing what you ate or drank to prove you were not under the influence.
You can also ask for a surveillance camera recording to show you did not take any alcoholic drinks. However, you should only share this kind of information with your attorney, and they can determine if the evidence is helpful or not.
Choose between a private attorney and a public defender
When charged with DUI, the officer gives you a court date written on your arrest citation. You have the choice to hire a private attorney or use a public defender. If you choose to engage a private DUI attorney, you should do so before the arraignment to give them time to allow the law firm to work your case. Also, a private DUI attorney can show up on your behalf during your court dates, so you don’t have to miss work.
On the other hand, a court-appointed public defender can also represent you if you cannot afford a private attorney. Although public defenders are good at what they do, they typically have many other cases to deal with and may not give your case the attention it deserves. Keep in mind that you must appear for all your court dates if you work with a public defender.
Stay out of trouble
It is easier to negotiate for a favorable outcome if you are not involved in other cases after your DUI charge. It is also easier to convince the DA that you have stayed out of trouble and can be persuasive when you appear before the judge. If arrested for a misdemeanor DUI case (most DUI cases are), you don’t have to remain in jail until your trial.
During your arraignment, the judge may order that you remain out of jail and adhere to certain restrictions, for instance, not consuming alcohol or visiting places where it is sold. Failure to follow the orders, the judge may demand you be put in jail before your trial and increase your bail if you are in more trouble. Therefore, it is best to stay out of trouble during this time.
Pay attention to your attorney’s counsel
Your DUI attorney is ethically bound to act in your best interest, and it is advisable to heed their counsel. Note that DUI cases can drag before you go to the trial, so you need to be patient. But with an experienced DUI attorney by your side, you don’t have to worry about anything. They can ensure that no stone goes unturned before your case goes to trial to ensure the best outcome possible.