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Charged With DUI: Now What?

You wake up and realize that you weren’t having a nightmare, you were arrested for DUI last night. The police gave you a lot of papers and sent you home…now what? The shock is wearing off and now you realize that you need to make some decisions relating to where to go from here. Should I plead guilty or not guilty to the DUI charge? Should I hire a DUI attorney? What will happen next?

What is the first thing I should do after a DUI Arrest?

After a DUI you should immediately write down what happened while your memory is fresh. Start before you began drinking. Where were you? Who were you with? Did you eat? Do you have receipts for drinks? Write down everything before, during and after your DUI arrest. This information will certainly help your DUI attorney.

Your Arraignment for your DUI Charge

At your DUI arraignment hearing, you will have to plead guilty or not guilty to the DUI charge. If you want a DUI lawyer to represent you, but you cannot afford one, the court will appoint one for you. At your DUI arraignment you will be asked to make a plea to the charge. Don’t worry…you can change your not guilty plea to guilty or no contest at a later time. In most states, you can ask for a jury trial or decide, at a later time, to drop the request for a jury and argue your DUI case before a judge. It is usually better to argue your DUI case in front of a jury rather than an experienced and possibly skeptical judge who has seen hundreds of DUI trials.

Should you fight the DUI or plea bargain?

Usually, the weaker your DUI case, the more you should want to seek a plea bargain. In most cases, your chances of winning at trial is directly related to your BAC or blood alcohol concentration level. The higher the BAC, the lower your chances of winning at trial. If your BAC was tested between .08 and .11%, your chances of a not guilty verdict are somewhat better. Your DUI attorney will have to convince the jury of the unreliability of the BAC test that was used and that you were not impaired at the time of the DUI arrest. He can do this by offering testimony from someone who was with you or talking to you around the time you were arrested. A plea bargain is a compromise agreed on by your DUI attorney and the prosecutor. You will plead guilty in return for a reduced DUI charge, monetary penalty, or shorter jail term. The prosecutor is able to obtain a DUI conviction without risking a jury trial and possible acquittal, not to mention the money saved by the state. Plea bargains in DUI cases are not as common as they used to be. In some areas, tougher DUI state laws tie prosecutor’s hands and prevent them from plea bargaining certain DUI cases.

Should I Hire a DUI attorney?

Whether you decide to plead not guilty and go to trial or plea bargain your DUI case, it is always the best idea to hire a DUI attorney. He has probably represented hundreds of clients charged with DUI and understands how to use his knowledge of police procedures and the court system to get the best outcome for you. Choose a DUI attorney who is well-versed in the law, communicates well, and can balance his negotiation skills with his ability to aggressively argue on your behalf.