If you or your loved one gets a DUI charge, it can create fear and anxiety. You may feel at a loss, unsure of what to do. Though a DUI is serious, some actions can be taken to ease the process.
First Things First
Driving under the influence is something no one should ever do, period. It’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible, and it’s also a giant sign that a person’s relationship with alcohol is out of control. This is especially true in an era where ride-sharing and other alternatives to getting behind the wheel are easily found everywhere.
That said, a DUI arrest is also a moment for change. Anyone who has been charged with a DUI should take a close look at their drinking habits and seek help, beginning with professional detox.
Addiction centers and drug rehabs can help you find a reputable detox center.
Before you take any steps, you need to understand terms that may come up during a DUI charge and trial. If you do not know the words, you will likely feel even more confused. Here is a list of common DUI terms and definitions:
- DUI: Driving under the influence of alcohol and sometimes drugs, depending on the state laws
- DUID: Driving under the influence of drugs, whether legally or illegally obtained
- DWAI: Driving while ability impaired; this charge is lesser in severity but requires a lower burden of proof
- BAC: Blood alcohol content determined by a blood test or breath alcohol content determined by a breathalyzer
Standardized field sobriety test battery: Three standard tests administered by police during a stop to test impairment:
- #1. Walk and turn test
- #2. One-leg stand
- #3. Horizontal gaze nystagmus
- Ignition interlock system: A breathalyzer connected to an ignition switch that prevents a car from starting if BAC is over a level of 0.02
- Restricted license: A driver’s license that only permits driving for certain activities like driving to work, the grocery store, and doctor’s appointments
Steps to Take if You’re Charged With a DUI
Now that you understand the verbiage, you should take immediate steps to mitigate the serious repercussions. A guilty DUI charge will usually stay on your driving and legal record for a long time, if not indefinitely. These three steps can make the difference between jail time and a slap on the wrist.
#1. Seek Out Legal Counsel
State laws vary, and there is a lot of misinformation about the legal system. No matter how much you think you know, unless you are a lawyer, you need to seek out legal counsel immediately after the DUI process starts. Assert your sixth amendment rights.
While you should not be hostile, do not answer any questions without counsel. The police are not there to help you. Cops can legally lie when interrogating you to elicit information. They do not care about your side of the story unless it helps them.
Lawyers will help you understand the process of a DUI hearing. You can ask them questions. They should explain to you what to expect and will represent your interests in any hearings. Their network with other lawyers can also benefit you.
Since they often know lawyers who will be representing the prosecution, they may be capable of getting you plea deals that you could not easily obtain otherwise. They sometimes negotiate lower charges that result in less punishment.
Additionally, if you do go to trial, it is important to have someone on your side who knows the law. Lawyers know how to cast reasonable doubt. The police officers can commit many errors in administering tests, making the results invalid. Lawyers can point out what makes a field test, breathalyzer, or BAC inadmissible. They can also present mitigating factors such as medical conditions that change the results’ validity.
#2. Request a DMV Hearing
You might think it is an involuntary process; however, DMV hearings must be requested by the accused party or their legal representation. You only have a short period – 10 days in most states – to request the hearing. If you do not, you will likely receive an automatic license suspension.
A DMV hearing determines whether a driver accused of a DUI or DUID can keep their license. Unlike in a DUI trial, the state only must prove its case to a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that a person committed a crime. Also, in most states, there is no “innocent until proven guilty” for DMV hearings because they are not criminal trials.
In a DUI trial, the state must prove:
- The arresting officer had reason to believe the driver was under the influence of substances
- The driver either had a BAC at or above 0.08%
- The police officer legally arrested the driver
There are many benefits to requesting a DMV hearing. Firstly, depending on the outcome, you may retain your license. If the officer does not show up or if the evidence is weak, you have a chance at winning. If you lose, your lawyer might be able to negotiate a restricted license or a non-restricted license with the use of an ignition interlock system.
Secondly, your lawyer can treat it as almost a mock trial. They can gain insight into the state’s case. Depending on how reliable the state’s evidence is, they can adjust their defense. This is a huge benefit to your future DUI trial.
#3. Create a Thorough Record of the Events
To give yourself the best defense at your DUI trial, you need to write down a detailed account of everything before, during, and after your arrest. You should do this as soon as possible because memory decreases accuracy over time. Don’t purposefully fabricate anything. Include everything you can remember from that day.
Think of these questions: Who were you with? What were you doing? What substances did you consume, if any? What time did you get pulled over? What did the police say to you? Did they make requests or orders? What chemical tests were performed? Who interrogated you?
Give this statement to your lawyer and retain a copy for your files. This record will allow your lawyer to compile witnesses. It will point out possible defenses and give your lawyer a starting point.
When you are arrested for a DUI, it is important to build a strong defense. DUI charges can stay on your record indefinitely. Though the actions described in this article will help through the legal proceedings, they will not fix underlying issues.
One Last Thing: A DUI is a Sign of a Major Substance Abuse Issue
Driving while intoxicated usually indicates possible substance use disorders. If you struggle with substance dependency, you may feel out of control and confused. Acknowledging the problem frees you to change your life, though.
Alcohol & drug detox is the first step to a life free from concerns about DUIs and potential jail time. Removing harmful substances from your body provides a strong foundation for a successful recovery.
DetoxNearMe.com can help you find a detox center to help you build a new life. With thousands of listings at your fingertips, finding a detox center for your needs and budget is easy. Start searching DetoxNearMe.com today, get help, and avoid legal trouble!