Getting arrested for DUI is a scary experience, especially for first-time offenders. It’s not a situation anyone plans to be in, and you’ll probably be wondering what to do next or how severe the penalties will be. There’s no denying that it’s a serious offense in any state, and penalties will increase if you had a high BAC or if there was an accident. Even first-time offenders may face mandatory jail time in certain states, and a treatment program is basically a certainty. This doesn’t begin to cover the court fines and license reinstatement fees, none of which are cheap.
Of course, there are good reasons for these penalties. Drunk driving puts all other drivers at risk, and it’s estimated that drunk driving accounts for 28% of traffic fatalities in the US. Getting a DUI can change your life significantly, at least for a time, and recovering from one isn’t easy. Still, there are steps you can take to improve your chances in court and start getting your life back on track.
Take The Chemical Test
Generally, the first thing you’ll be asked to do following a DUI arrest is to take a chemical test at the station. This one is a bit different from field tests. While you can refuse a breathalyzer test prior to your arrest, this gives the officer probable cause to arrest you, so you’ll likely face the same result regardless. Attempting to refuse a test at the station is definitely not in your best interest. Refusing this test is considered a crime, and it will be used as an aggravating factor against you in court. They may even be able to take your blood against your will in some circumstances, and you will be forced to pay the lab charges. Take the test voluntarily.
Seek Legal Counsel
Once you’ve been released, you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. This may include an accident lawyer in Orange County if injuries were involved. Regardless, it’s crucial that you contact a DUI attorney. These lawyers specialize in these cases and will work to get you the best result possible. Don’t rely on a general attorney for a DUI case. These are complicated, and the rules can change frequently. A specialist will give you your best chance to stay out of jail, and they’ll likely be able to get you more time to prepare.
Prepare For Arraignment
You’ll usually have at least two weeks before you need to report to the court, and it’s best if you can retain a lawyer during that time. No matter what, avoid pleading guilty at your arraignment. If you do, you will be sentenced then and there, and there’s a good chance you’ll face harsher penalties than if your lawyer had prepared a defense. If you don’t have a lawyer yet, request a continuance to retain one.
Start Working On Treatment
While you can challenge the merits of a DUI case, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll beat on outright. The court will require you to take an alcohol assessment test and follow any recommended treatment programs. If you go ahead and get this process out of the way, it will show initiative, and you may receive a lighter sentence. Completing community service hours in advance can help your case as well. If this experience has made you concerned about your drinking, you may even consider searching “sober living home NYC” to explore your options for healing.
Get Your License Back
The moment you get your license back, or at least a limited privilege, is the moment you’ll start feeling some normality in your life again. Your license will be suspended or revoked following a DUI conviction, and you’ll have to wait a period before you can get it back. You may have to install an interlock device or complete traffic courses before you can apply again. You’ll also likely receive an SR-22 form, which identifies you as a high-risk driver. You’ll pay increased insurance premiums for as long as you carry this form, but you’ll need it to get your license.
Generally speaking, your premiums should go back down after three years without incident. Avoid becoming a repeat offender, and all the challenges associated with your DUI arrest can become distant memories.