If you have been pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), you may be scared but you are not alone. Every day, at least four thousand people are arrested for DUI. In addition to finding the right criminal defense attorney, there are some other things you need to do to bolster your case and get through the experience. Here are some tips for what you should do if you have been pulled over for DUI:
- Do not say anything. Many states have provisions that come along with getting a driver’s license. They include submitting to any field sobriety tests that the law enforcement agency suggests. You do not have to submit to a breath test but if you are convicted, the penalties are often more severe if you do not. The less you say during this process, the better. Most people know about their “Miranda” rights (thank you, “Law andamp; Order”) but not everyone follows through with them. Unless you have a criminal defense attorney with you, silence is your best friend. When they say “anything can and will be used against you in a court of law,” they mean it.
- If you go to jail, post your bond. If the law enforcement agency arrests you and brings you to jail, do not panic. This is a terrifying experience but you will get through it. They will book you in and the next morning, you will be brought in front of a judge who will determine your immediate fate. This person can let you go, set a bond or tell you that you have to remain in jail until your arraignment. If you are given a bond, you should do whatever you can to pay it and get out of jail. People may tell you that you can work on your defense from jail but it is so much easier to talk to lawyers and deal with your situation when you are not in jail.
- Talk to the public defender. Many DUI cases are simple. If this is your first arrest and nothing was damaged nor was anyone hurt or killed, you may have a simple case that can be plead out. If your publicly appointed lawyer says that the state is willing to do a pre-trial diversion, that may be the best you can get. It is worth noting that at least 96% of all criminal cases end in a plea.
- Talk to at least three criminal defense attorneys. Unless you are offered an amazing deal, you should still talk to different criminal defense attorneys. Talk to at least three law firms. This is good for a number of reasons. You want to know what your options are, how much you can expect to spend and find a lawyer with whom you feel you can connect. All criminal defense law firms offer free first consultations to prospective clients so you should take advantage of that to find the right legal representation for your situation.
- Ask the right questions. When you go in to talk to various criminal defense attorneys, you need to get all of your questions answered. You need to find out how long they have worked in this specialty, why they went into criminal defense and how many other cases they have worked on that were similar to yours. You need to find a lawyer who is passionate about what they do and has the experience you need. They should be good at negotiating but know their way around a courtroom. You never want to end up there but you want an experienced professional by your side if you do find yourself there.
It is important to note that you can be arrested, charged and convinced of a DUI for substances other than alcohol and illicit drugs. If you have taken a prescription pain medication or anti-anxiety pill, you may be impaired. A driver in California was charged with a DUI when the only substance in his blood was caffeine. While the case was eventually dropped, at the urging of his criminal defense attorney, but it took over a year. Just be careful when you take medication.