How to Handle a DUI Arrest
The effects of drinking and driving are sometimes clouded by what happened during the arrest. Simply drinking does not mean you are guilty. Failing the breath test does not mean you are guilty. You have a right to question the officer and what happened too. This guide will give you a crash course on what happens before, during, and after the DUI arrest.
Have you been drinking?
If you've been drinking, do not drive. You may think that you're fine, but you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and problems by not making this mistake. This is especially the case if you have been charged with a DUI before. If you have one or more DUI charges on your record, you are going to face some serious charges. Therefore, get a cab, call your spouse, call a family member do anything but drive.
If you're pulled over, it does not necessarily mean the officer believes you've been drinking, though that's possible. You will be asked to give over your basic information: license, registration, insurance. After this, the only thing you are required to do is take the breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer is a divisive issue. Before we get into that, you may be asked some questions.
Have you been drinking tonight, mam? The question does not have to be answered. You are within your rights to explain you will not answer questions without a lawyer. Many times the officer will try and encourage you to answer questions which will incriminate you. These questions should be avoided.
The breathalyzer test, on the other hand, cannot be avoided. Some lawyers believe you shouldn't take the breath test, especially if you've been drinking. It's a major point of argument. First, all states have immediate penalties for refusing a breathalyzer including losing your license. Sometimes, if you take the breath test and fail, you get less charges than if you refused it. This is an issue to always, always discuss with an experienced lawyer, yet it may be after the fact. In most instances, you want to take the breathalyzer.
First Step in Defense
You were pulled over, asked some questions, given the breath test, and were found to have a .08% alcohol level or higher. This is not world shattering. You do have a chance for defense, namely by hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. This is your first step, not your last, so don't put off hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. And who you hire has major affects on the case. If you hire someone with little to no DUI law experience, it could costs you thousands in fines, months in jail, and a long license suspension.
Making an Effective Defense
An effective defense is all about questioning what happened. You typically want to follow your lawyer's lead here. He or she will be doing things like questioning the validity of the breath tests, looking for holes in the arresting officer's story, and trying to prove you are innocent. It may not always about being found completely innocent; sometimes minor charges can be a victory.