1st DUI: What to do?
Initial steps to take after receiving your first lifetime DUI charge:
Accept the reality. You are now facing criminal charges. Drunk driving maybe the most common criminal charge, but in general, our society hates drunk drivers worse than they hate people who arrested for assaults and thefts. There is an aggressive lobby known as Mothers Against Drunk Driving that have have lobbied to make drunk driving laws stricter and stricter over the last 30 years. If you are charged with this, do not brush it off casually. You need to face the reality head on, and deal with these charges. This is a serious charge that could mess up your life. It produces a chain reaction of disaster in your life, such as a permanent criminal conviction, possible termination of employment, loss of license that could lead to inability to commute to work which could lead to termination of employment. Insurance rates will go up.
Keep silent, any admissions or statements will be used against you. Nobody on the prosecuting end, not the district attorneys, not the police, not the holding cell guards, nor the people who book you, nor the judge who sets your bail, are your friend or advocate. They are not on your side. The only person “on your side” is your attorney.
The police don’t care if you’ve “only had a beer with dinner”. Tell them nothing. If they are going to arrest you, they are going to arrest you. You do not want to help them
arrest you. Loose lips sink ships. It’s not what you’ve done, but what they can prove you’ve done, so keep all evidence that you have and they don’t have to yourself. The decision to take the breathalyzer is a very personal one, the short answer is if you are more worried about losing your license than being on probation then you should probably consent to the Officer’s request to test your blood alcohol level, if instead you are focused on not being convicted of a DUI you should refuse the state’s breath sample, and for that matter the officer’s request for you to complete any field sobriety tests, they are voluntary.
If you do provide a sample, always ask for an independent blood test at a medical facility you choose.
Speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The only person who you should speak to is your attorney and nobody else. If a cop demands you say something, the only thing you need to say is “I would like to speak with my attorney”. It is typical of cops to assume you are ignorant and to make comments along the lines of “just help us and well help you” (the good cop), and “shut up and admit what you did” (the bad cop). Many innocent people are in the in the corrections system because they think that the cops who arrested them are the end-all, be-all of authority, and they confess because they believe the good cop will “help them out”, or believe the bad cop saying who says “we’ve already got you”. The cops want to make themselves the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and jury, and end the case early. Only you can make this happen by saying anything other than “I’d like to speak with my attorney”.
Hire a productive and successful attorney. There are times in people’s lives, when no matter how frugal you try to be, you will have to spend a significant amount of unexpected money. A defense lawyer in the situation of facing criminal charges is one of these times when your savings will have to take a hit. There is no other way. Either your savings take a hit now in the form of hiring a defense attorney, or they take a hit later when you go to jail for several months and lose your job and miss mortgage payments. Your attorney should have reviews from other people that he or she has gotten off on charges. This is how you should select your attorney, not because he promises a low price.
Go to court. Every court date. Judges can be jaded individuals who deal with all kinds of social ills everyday of their life. One ounce of disrespect to the court can make the gavel come down on you harder. One of the most disrespectful things you can do is not show up. The judge doesn’t care what your excuse is for not showing up. The judge is in no mood to feel sorry for you, because they’ve seen and heard everything before. If you miss court, it is likely that a warrant will be issued for your arrest, and once you are caught, and back to jail you go. Now of course, its not always your fault, unexpected circumstances come up. This is why your attorney will help you reschedule. The other problem is that courts may be extremely bureaucratic and inefficient depending on where you are. A notice to come to court may not be sent out, may be sent to the wrong address, etc. without you knowing. Even if its not your fault, you can still get a warrant. The attorney will help you stay on top of this.
Request a hearing with the DMV, also called an administrative license hearing. This is not mandatory. This is going the extra mile, but it is still significantly important. There is a ten day limit to request this hearing, so remember to act fast once you are released from jail.
The DMV has no power to put you in a cage with bars for your DUI, but they can revoke or suspend your driver’s license. Like the courts, the DMV is an incredibly complicated and bureaucratic entity that can be incredibly difficult to navigate for most people.
Remember, if the DMV suspends or revokes your license, and you drive on it, you can be arrested and put in jail, so they do have that power over you. In the same way that your chances of beating criminal charges go up if you have a skilled attorney, your chances of getting your license back, or other driving privileges go up.
If you’ve read this, you need to call our office. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, or is currently facing time in jail, may still be in jail call us.
Andrew Lynch is someone who can help you, call our office now:
(404) – 373 -7735.