Were you recently charged with a DUI?
Being charged with a DUI can be a terrifying experience. These charges can lead to jail time, huge fines, loss of your driver’s license, and loss of your job. To prevent all of these terrible things from happening, it’s important to know what to do if you’re charged with a DUI.
Check out this guide to learn the critical steps you need to take if you’ve been charged with a DUI.
1. Cooperate With the Officer
When you’re pulled over for a DUI, it’s very important that you cooperate with the officer.
Comply with what the officer says at all times, and make sure you do your best to show the officer that you’re complying if you’re heavily intoxicated. Not complying will just make matters worse for you, so don’t try to outsmart the officer.
Also, keep in mind that most states require you to take a chemical test when being charged with a DUI. This test shows a variety of information, but most importantly, it reveals your blood alcohol level. If your blood alcohol level is above 0.08, then the officer can arrest you for driving under the influence.
If they charge you, they’ll transport you to the police station with your car in tow. Being processed for arrest can take a few hours, especially if this is your first time breaking the law. Your fingerprints and mugshots will be taken, and a police officer might ask you questions regarding the circumstances that led to your arrest.
2. Figure Out Bail
While most individuals arrested for DUIs are released without bail, in some cases you may need to post bail in order to avoid spending time in jail while you await your trial.
If you do need to post bail, you may need to hire a bail bondsman for help. Bail bondsmen require that you pay an upfront fee. Once you pay the fee, they post bail for you. Typically, the fee is 10% of the total cost of bail.
The alternative to hiring a bail bondsman is to pay the court directly with your own money. While it can be nerve-racking handing over a lot of money, keep in mind, you’ll get this money back just so as long as you make it to all of your trials and proceedings. The court will return your money to you whether you’re found guilty or innocent.
A bail bondsman, on the other hand, will not return the upfront fee you pay. And if you miss any trials or proceedings, the bondsman may come after you to collect more money.
3. Hire a DUI Attorney
While it’s a toss-up as to whether or not you should hire a bail bondsman, you definitely want to hire a DUI attorney.
DUI cases are extremely intricate, and the laws surrounding drunk driving can be very complex. Hiring professional legal help will give you your best shot at winning your case. Here are some of the top benefits of hiring a DUI attorney:
- Experienced DUI attorneys know how to navigate the courtroom and proceedings with ease
- Hiring an attorney could save you money in the long run
- Your attorney could help get your cased dismissed, especially if they find an error in the way the cops dealt with the arrest (for example, if the cops don’t read you your Miranda Rights, your case could get dismissed)
- DUI attorneys help minimize your time in court
- They help you get your license back
- They can help get your DUI expunged from your record so it doesn’t affect your future employment
But, don’t just hire the first attorney you come across on Google. Here are some tips to follow when hiring a DUI attorney:
- Look for someone with DUI-specific experience and a history of winning cases similar to yours
- Ask about fees before hiring
- Consider the size of the law firm
- Read reviews online and ask for references
- Meet potential selections face to face to discuss your case
- Pay attention to how promptly the lawyer answers your calls and emails
- Ask the lawyer who will be working on your case (Will they be doing the bulk of the work or will it be their legal secretaries?)
- Be aware of big promises, a good attorney will be honest about your chances of winning
Also, keep in mind that many states have deadlines in regards to when you can file an appeal for your charge. In many states, you need to file an appeal within 30 days. So, while you should take your time finding the right attorney, be aware that you’re on a bit of a time crunch.
4. Request a DMV Hearing
In addition to hiring an attorney, you also need to request a DMV hearing. Usually, you have to request this hearing within 10 days of your arrest, and this length of time includes weekends and holidays.
This hearing will determine whether or not you can keep your driver’s license. If you hire an attorney, they help you request this hearing. If you don’t request it in time, your license will be suspended.
5. Prepare for Your Arraignment
Assuming that your case goes to court, you’ll need to prepare for your arraignment. The arraignment is the event in which you enter your plea before a judge.
Likely, you’ll be entering a not guilty plea. If you enter a not guilty plea, a trial will proceed with a jury.
Charged With a DUI?: Time to Act
Now that you know what to do if you’re charged with a DUI, it’s time to act. By taking these critical steps, you’ll increase your chances of winning your case.
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