What To Do If You Get a DUI Charge
If you’re looking for information on what to do if you get a DUI, you’ll want to begin by addressing the matters that are most time-sensitive. Although you may be weighing your options and mulling over whether you want to hire an attorney and fight the charge, there are several things that need your attention right away.
What To Do If You Get a DUI Charge - Time Sensitive Actions to Take
Call the DMV
Someone has to contact the DMV within ten days of your arrest to set up a hearing. A trained DUI attorney is the best person to advise you what to do if you get a DUI, and he will make this call on your behalf, or assist you with the specifics so that your efforts will not be wasted. Just be aware that if you fail to take action for thirty days, you may be unpleasantly surprised to find your license has been automatically suspended. Any action taken by the DMV is a separate thing from your court appearance, which may not occur for weeks. So take action immediately. It can make the difference in whether you keep your license or lose it.
Kill Your Social Media
At the very least, change any and all online profiles you may have to “private.” Don’t kid yourself into believing that a prosecutor won’t find your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, and any other online information that may damage you. If you may plan to show up in court portraying yourself as an upstanding citizen who rarely sips a beverage, photos of you partying—regardless of whether any driving was involved—can absolutely destroy that image in the mind of a jury. Remove any such photos or references immediately. A DUI specialist attorney can advise you about other aspects of your online identity that a prosecutor may be able to use against you.
Write Down the Details
You still may be wondering, on a basis relating to the actual DUI stop, what to do? If you get a DUI, it is a stressful, emotional experience. You may find yourself wanting to spill all the details and tell the story repeatedly to your friends. Don’t. This is not productive and may hurt you in the end. Instead, you need to write it all down. While it’s fresh in your mind, create a record of all the details you can remember, such as the date, time, and location of the stop, the reason the officer gave for stopping you, exactly what you told him about the alcohol you had consumed, and what kinds of tests were administered to you.
Pin Down Your Witnesses
If friends or family members saw you right before or right after your DUI stop, talk to them now and ask them if they will testify for you. Talk to the waitress or bartender who served you, and do it today. If her testimony can help you, go gather her contact information and let her know how important this is to you. If you have an attorney by now, he will want to get a statement from your witnesses before their memories fade.
What To Do If You Get A DUI Charge Quick Video from a Family Member
Face the Mirror
Your attitude in court can make or break you, so you need to get honest with yourself about what’s happened. Driving while intoxicated is no mere traffic violation, it is a crime and for a good reason. Countless lives have been lost. In this case, the life could have been yours, your passenger’s, or that of some innocent person who crossed your path. If you can admit to yourself that driving after drinking, selfishly risking lives, is something you have frequently done (whether or not you got caught for it), then take action now. Get some help. Go to rehab. Join AA. Do whatever it takes—not just to look good in court, but to actually get control of your dangerous behavior.
So let’s say your arrest was a week or two ago and you’ve completed the steps above and are still debating what to do. If you get a DUI, the repercussions to your life can be extremely serious and you are well-advised to find an attorney. However if you wish to do some further thinking about the probability of being able to win your case, consider the following.
Was There Probable Cause?
The police have to have a reasonable suspicion or belief that you were doing something wrong before they are allowed to stop you, conduct a DUI investigation, and arrest you. This is known as “probable cause,” and if they had none, your case might wind up being dismissed. Even if evidence of intoxication comes to light after the officer stops you, if he had no probable cause, this evidence may be suppressed so that the prosecution can’t use it against you. If you failed to maintain your lane, for example, that’s probable cause. If you were simply out driving in the wee hours and the officer didn’t like your looks, that is not probable cause and you might prevail.
- A tip about probable cause. While this tip may come too late to help with your current dilemma, it will be useful to know what to do if you get a DUI again in the future. When asked by a police officer if you have been drinking, advise him that you are exercising your right to remain silent. If you say you’ve been drinking, your admission alone may constitute probable cause which will then enable him to investigate further.
Medical Conditions or Diet
Certain very common conditions such as acid reflux or heartburn can cause a false positive reading on a breathalyzer. This is because the alcohol that travels from your stomach to your mouth, with such a condition, may trick the machine into thinking it is measuring the deep lung air it’s actually intended to measure. Could you provide medical records to show that you suffer from these conditions? You may also be interested to learn that low-carb, low-protein diets (such as Atkins) can produce false positive results. This is because the diet causes the body to turn stored fat into energy, producing ketones. And ketones, when expelled from the body through breath and urine, convert to isopropyl alcohol. Can you provide witnesses or documentation to prove you have been on this type of diet?
Problems with Sobriety Tests
Having an attorney in your corner can definitely help you in the area, because chances are slim that you, on your own, will be able to prove that there was either:
- An inaccurate breathalyzer reading
- An inaccurate blood test due to, for example, blood contamination or improper storage
- A violation of your rights such as your blood being drawn by an uncertified technician, or a breathalyzer being used when it had not been correctly calibrated.
There are a number of other situations which could result in evidence against you being excluded. Unfortunately, you as a layman will probably not be well-versed enough to be sure what to do. If you get a DUI, you are generally most concerned about staying out of jail and retaining your license, and it is just not the time to try to take a crash course in being your own defense attorney. An attorney such as our featured attorney in Rochester, NY, will be aware of many different technicalities of the law that would probably never occur to you. Allow him to use his knowledge and experience to assist you.
What To Do If You Get A DUI Charge Recap
Let’s take a moment to review what we’ve learned so far about what to do if you get a DUI.
- (During the traffic stop) Remain silent when asked if you’ve been drinking.
- Call the DMV and either remove or make private your social media accounts
- Write down the details of your stop and gather your witnesses
- Make a sincere determination about whether you have a drinking problem. This traffic stop may have saved your life. If so, begin corrective action immediately.
With those items completed, you may have done just about all you can do on your own. Will it be enough? Do you feel like rolling the dice? It’s not recommended. You may think losing your license will be an inconvenience, but the reality is much worse. Your entire life takes a nosedive when you become dependent on others for transportation; not to mention, suppose the judge decides your crime warrants jail time?
Call an Attorney
There is really no way around it. A DUI is not a traffic offense, it is a criminal offense. You should not attempt to face it without an attorney, any more than you would attempt to defend yourself for murder. This is really so obvious that if you are still agonizing over whether to contact an attorney, no doubt it’s because you are afraid you cannot afford one. This is a legitimate concern, but don’t toss your future away on a mere assumption. You are not the first non-wealthy person to ever get a DUI. The wisest thing to do at this point is to select a good DUI attorney and then set up an appointment with him, at which time costs will be discussed.
How to Choose an Attorney
Again, don’t assume you can only afford a bargain-basement attorney and foolishly make a selection based on price alone. A cheap attorney may be cheap for a good reason—he may not plan to do any real work on your behalf.
What you want is an attorney such as our featured attorney in Rochester, NY who has received specialized training and who has a great deal of experience with DUI cases. He will be able to tell you what to do if you get a DUI, because he is knowledgeable about field sobriety tests, probable cause, evidence as it relates to DUI cases, the science of alcohol absorption and many other aspects that relate specifically to DUI charges. Do not base your decision on flashy advertising. Set up an appointment with the attorney you have chosen, and pay close attention to how he treats you and answers your questions. You will be placing a great deal of trust in this person, so you want to be sure he is someone with whom you feel comfortable.
When You Go to Court
Follow any advice your attorney gives you about preparing for your court appearance. You might ordinarily prefer to style yourself as a rock star or a thug in your daily life, but this sort of impression will not help your case. If your attorney directs you in how to achieve a clean-cut appearance, do as he advises. It is his job to advise you what to do if you get a DUI, and although this is one day of your life but it’s a day that can affect you for years to come. Show up for your court appearance on time, properly dressed, and with your attitude in check. Whether guilty or innocent, you must display an attitude of calm reasonability if you are to stand a chance of having things turn out well.
After the Case is Resolved
If you were guilty of DUI and wound up in court, you might call yourself lucky that you did not wind up at the morgue instead. Now, while you are still alive to make decisions, would be a great time to view this DUI charge as a lesson learned. Drinking and driving do not mix at all, and when you look back, you can probably think of a dozen ways you could have gotten home from the bar that night. Calling a friend to come get you is embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as sleeping it off in a jail cell. Calling a taxi is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the fines, insurance rates, loss of employment and many other consequences that can stem from a DUI. When your case is resolved, promise yourself you will never drive after drinking again.
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Our featured attorney may be a certified specialist in their DUI field. If so, the organization providing the certification is not affiliated with any governmental authority. Certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law.