Getting a DUI is a distressing and overwhelming experience for everyone. Knowing what to do after getting a DUI ticket and how to handle the situation properly minimizes the potential adverse outcomes of being caught breaking the law. Here’s what you need to do.
First, when you’re pulled over, remember that how you respond will form part of your impairment assessment. Don’t be erratic coming to a hazardous sudden stop. Keep driving, begin slowing down, then indicate towards the side you’re pulling over, and then pull over neatly and wait.
Secondly, even though it’s easier said than done, don’t panic or try to talk your way out. It’s a terrible idea to talk to the police who have decided to arrest you without your lawyer being present. Try to cooperate with the police officer, even if you’re severely intoxicated. If a DUI incident happens because of an accident, the police will take you to an emergency room for medical attention before taking you to jail.
Seek Legal Representation ASAP
When a police officer catches you drunk driving, they’re not willing to listen to your alibi or justifications. It’s difficult to trust an intoxicated person’s word. This is a great time to exercise your right to remain silent and save all the talking for later when you’re in a better headspace and have a lawyer present. If you’re in the right frame of mind at the point of arrest, immediately consult with experienced DUI lawyers who specialize in handling these cases.
They’ll come to the police station where you’ve been booked and have a session with you, collecting information and guiding you through the impending legal process to help you understand what to do after getting a DUI. They’ll also protect your rights and help build a strong defense. DUI lawyers understand the intricacies of DUI laws, so even though this incident is unfortunate, having professionals on your side is something to be grateful for.
Ask the Right Questions
In law, ignorance is no excuse! Suppose this is your first offense, or you’ve been arrested in a state or jurisdiction that isn’t yours, and you’re wondering what to do after getting a DUI. In that case, you need to take the time to understand the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in that jurisdiction. You can only know if you ask. These vary and may include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, probation, increased insurance rates, jail time, or a combination.
Your lawyer can help you with this information as you build the case together. It’s improbable that you’ll walk off without even a slap on the wrist, but less is always better when it comes to punishment. So work with your lawyer to get the case dismissed or, at the very least, get a punishment that isn’t severe.
Before settling on the attorney, ask them about their experience with DUI cases, how long they’ve been at it, if they have any special training on DUI cases, and if they’re willing to find you a 24 hour bondsman or bail bondsman in your area to help you post bail and go home to focus on the oncoming legal processes.
It’s also essential to establish with them if they’ll represent you both at the DMV and in court. Together with asking the right questions, collect and organize all documents related to your DUI incident. These include the police report, witness statements, breathalyzer or blood test results if they favor your case, and all other evidence beneficial to your defense. Provide these documents to your DUI lawyer.
Comply With All the Legal Requirements
A significant part of what to do after getting a DUI comes after the arrest and investigations. You’ll be required to meet several legalities. If allowed to post bail, you must appear in court for arraignment, where you’ll enter a plea. During this session, you’ll have subsequent court dates for pre-trial hearings, motions, and, if applicable, a trial.
Attend all these sessions. Being a no-show in court means the court gets to keep the bail money, and you might get rearrested for being a flight risk. Often, a DUI results in your driving license being suspended. The duration of the suspension varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as well as the prevailing circumstances of your DUI incident.
Sometimes, you may be given a temporary restricted license that allows you to drive only in specific circumstances. Don’t be sneaky and try to drive illegally or when you aren’t supposed to. If you get caught, it will jeopardize your case. Other legal requirements for what to do after getting a DUI that may be required from you include providing necessary documentation, completing mandated classes or treatment programs, installing an ignition interlock device in your car, paying some fines and fees, obtaining an SR-22 insurance cover, taking care of the medical bill of people harmed in your DUI incident and adhering to probation conditions. Failure to comply with the legal requirements that accompany your DUI case often results in additional penalties and even jail terms.
Assess Your Insurance Coverage
Your insurer can play some role in managing the implications of your DUI. Your coverage may include auto liability coverage. If an accident occurred during your DUI incident, this cover would help you offset costs associated with damage to property and physical injury sustained by other parties involved in the wreck. Your insurer may also offer personal injury protection coverage, which will help you cover your medical expenses and recover lost wages during hospitalization.
The great news about PIP is that it covers you when you’re at fault. Some insurance policies offer optional legal defense coverage or offset legal bills associated with DUI cases. They can also cover the costs incurred in towing your vehicle from the accident scene or arrest.
What to do after getting a DUI must include contacting your insurance agent. The agent can help you review your auto insurance policy to understand the coverage and further explain DUI’s potential implications on your premium rates. You can also explore options for managing changes in coverage or premiums.
The other parties involved in the incident may also visit a personal injury law office to consult on the way forward regarding compensation for their bodily injuries and any destruction to their properties. This adds a new layer to your DUI case, and you may need to hire an accident lawyer to help you assess the case, negotiate the liability terms, get any compensation you deserve, and try to minimize the negative implications on your end. The car accident attorney can form part of the team representing you if you go to trial in case of added charges such as manslaughter.
Seek Guidance From a Traffic Violation Lawyer
Unfortunately, in many instances, your DUI is accompanied by other traffic violations, such as speeding, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, failure to yield, improper lane changes, running red lights or stop signs, driving without headlights, open container violation, or a combination. Consult a traffic violation lawyer who will evaluate your case, identify potential defenses, and work to minimize the overall impact of the charges against you. The lawyer has experience negotiating with prosecutors and may get you a plea bargain with fewer penalties. In some DUI cases, the initial traffic stop may be a point of contention.
Your traffic violation lawyer can review the circumstances around the stop issue to determine if there were improper procedures, lack of probable cause, or violations of your rights during the stop. They can then argue that any evidence obtained during that stop should be thrown out, strengthening your case.
A traffic violation lawyer also helps you navigate administrative hearings related to your driving license suspension and negotiate for a shortening of the suspension period or, at the very least, obtain a hardship license. After getting a DUI, part of what to do is get a traffic violation lawyer on board to help protect your driving record and minimize additional penalties.
Identify Potential Witnesses
Chances are high that you were arrested on your way from where social drinking occurred. Depending on where you were before getting arrested, it’s likely some people were with you and can help your defense by testifying that you didn’t have much to drink, if at all.
After successfully posting bail, prioritize looking for witnesses. It’s a key aspect of what to do after getting a DUI charge. Once you have a list of potential witnesses, have your DUI attorney contact them and do preliminary questioning to determine if they have anything helpful to say and if their narratives corroborate your statement.
The witnesses may also have beneficial evidence, such as videos and pictures of you briefly before you left. For images and videos to be admissible in a courtroom, they must be relevant, authentic, verifiable, and have probative value. Your attorney will advise your witnesses not to lie under oath to protect you. Their intention may be genuine, but it may dig you into a deeper hole.
Cooperate With Drug Testing and Other Evaluations
Drug testing or chemical evaluation may be required once you’re flagged and arrested for DUI. It’s a legal requirement in most states, and refusing to do it will get you into deeper trouble. The police will use it to determine the presence and levels of substances like alcohol and drugs in your system or assess any underlying issues.
You could decline to participate in a field sobriety test as it’s not mandatory. Still, you must cooperate fully with any drug testing procedures and follow the instructions provided by law enforcement or the court—some chemical tests you may be subjected to include breathalyzer tests, blood tests, or urine tests. How accurate and reliable the chemical tests are depends on several things. These include the qualifications of the individuals conducting the test, proper test administration, and the testing equipment’s calibration and maintenance. There’s no need to panic even if you don’t pass these tests. Your DUI defense lawyer will scrutinize the procedures and protocols followed during the testing exercise and challenge their validity if necessary. With court cases, any doubt, even slight, that serves your defense is significant. Your cooperation in the testing will also demonstrate your willingness to address the situation responsibly.
Handling the Towing and Car Retrieval
Successfully retrieving your car from impoundment is part of what to do after getting a DUI. After your DUI arrest, the police will have your car towed and impounded for the entire duration of your stay in jail. They do this to ensure your vehicle’s safety and remove any obstructions it may be causing on the road. They’ll then give you the details of the company they contracted to tow and store. You’ll be required to arrange for payment of the various fees associated with the impoundment and storage.
The fees typically include towing charges, daily storage fees, administrative fees, etc., depending on the local area laws and operating procedures. Before you’re allowed to get your car, the towing company will require proof of ownership, a valid driver’s license or a temporary one issued by the authorities, insurance information, and proof of vehicle registration.
Once you have met these administrative requirements and paid the relevant fees, the release of your impounded car begins to be processed and can take a few hours or an entire day. Depending on state laws, you may be required to obtain an authorization form from the court addressing the impound and your approval to drive a car while facing a DUI and traffic offense charge. The best thing is to consult with your DUI lawyer before taking any steps regarding the impounded vehicle to ensure you comply with the relevant laws.
Throughout the DUI process, follow your DUI and traffic violation lawyers’ legal advice. They have the experience and expertise to help you navigate the ordeal, understand your options, and minimize the implications. Consult with your insurance company to get all the benefits outlined in your coverage, and review your insurance coverage if DUI affects it.
Every DUI case is unique, and the specific actions and help you require vary depending on your circumstances. Knowing what to do after getting a DUI is the first step to overcoming the situation.