Getting arrested for a DUI can be a scary and worrying experience, especially if it’s your first time having a run-in with the law.
Then again, you have every right to be worried because drunk driving is a crime, and a conviction carries with it several consequences that will have a profound impact on your life.
Here are five things you need to do once the police officer reads you your rights and books you.
1. Call a DUI attorney.
You have the right to an attorney, so call a DUI lawyer or a friend or relative who can hook you up with one as soon as you can. You must get the services of not just any lawyer, but one who knows the ins and outs of DUI laws and procedures.
DUI lawyers are typically more up to date on the latest requirements for field sobriety tests, blood draws, and breath tests, the performance of which could matter in your DUI case. They are best-equipped to spot any issues with your case that could lead to an outcome that’s favorable to you.
2. Decide on whether to undergo a chemical test or not.
Police officers usually ask drivers to undergo a field sobriety test or FST after pulling them over. You can politely refuse FSTs because they are quite unreliable, as they depend on the subjective judgment of the police officer administering the test.
Once you’re arrested for DUI, you will be required to take a chemical test. A chemical test to accurately determine your current blood alcohol level is mandatory in most states, and refusing it is punishable by law. For instance, in Arizona, refusal means a 12-month suspension of your driver’s license. If you take the test, and the results indicate a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08%, you will face a 90-day license suspension.
3. Post bail if required.
If it’s your first time getting arrested for DUI and you were not involved in a collision, never injured anyone, or that your BAC is only close to 0.08%, you are more likely to be released on your own recognizance and therefore won’t be required to pay bail. This is done, of course, on the condition that you appear in court when required. This may vary from state to state though, with some states more likely to get your bail waived than others.
However, if you are required to pay bail before being released, then you must do so. You can do it using cash, or you can get in touch with a bail bonds agency to arrange it. The agency will guarantee your appearance in court for your hearings, and will come looking for you if you don’t.
4. Petition the MVD for a license suspension hearing.
Assuming that your chemical test led to a suspension of your driving privileges, you will need to request an MVD hearing within 15 days.
If you file the petition within that 15-day time frame, your license suspension will be put on hold until you have the hearing.
You can file your request for a hearing with the MVD Executive Hearing Office online, or you can send it via fax, or mail.
5. Work with your DUI lawyer on your defense.
Unless you plead guilty during your arraignment, you will eventually undergo a trial by jury. You have to prepare for it with the help of your DUI attorney. Trust your lawyer to mount the best possible defense for your case, but he or she will need your full cooperation and trust.
Your lawyer will, by default, work for the dismissal of your case or your acquittal. Your DUI lawyer can question the sufficiency of the evidence against you. He or she may even challenge the constitutionality of your arrest. In case the evidence against you is strong, you can also trust your DUI attorney to try to broker a deal with the prosecutor for a lesser charge, and therefore, lesser penalties.