November 3, 2022
11 Steps to Take After a DUI Charge
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, there are steps you can take to protect your rights. This blog post will explore what to do after a DUI charge.
The aftermath of a drunk driving arrest and charge can be overwhelming, upsetting, and confusing. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, there are steps you can take to protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome. This blog post will explore what to do after a DUI charge, and how an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help.
What Is Considered a DUI?
You may be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher - or are under the influence of any other substance, including over the counter, prescription, and recreational drugs. Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are used interchangeably, and refer to the same charge. For individuals under age 21, any detected amount of alcohol can result in a DUI charge.
Top 11 Things to Do After Your DUI Arrest
Follow these 11 steps after a DUI arrest to protect your rights:
Step 1. Take the Chemical Test
Whether or not you were driving under the influence, if you refuse to take a test, you will face civil penalties for a refusal, including suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months for the first refusal, and suspension of your driver’s license for 18 months if you have a previous DUI or refusal.
Step 2. Contact a DUI/DWI Attorney
Do not plead guilty to a DUI without speaking with a lawyer - you may have a strong chance of getting your charges dismissed. DUI charges will not go away on their own, and those charged with DUI are well-advised to reach out to a knowledgeable and experienced DUI/DWI lawyer immediately. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can get to work building a strong DUI defense case.
Tauber Law offers a free consultation to help you understand the charges you are facing. We will answer your questions, explain your options, and give you an experienced-based opinion of your best course of action.
Step 3. Locate a Bail Bondsman
This may or may not be necessary depending on your charges. If your DUI charge involves bail, you may need a bail bondsman. If you are released on your own recognizance, you make a promise to appear in court, but do not pay bail money to the court or post bond.
Step 4. Call the DMV Right Away
What happens after a DUI with your driver’s license? When you’re arrested for DUI, you actually have two legal proceedings to deal with: (1) the Pennsylvania criminal case, and (2) the Pennsylvania DMV case. The DMV case is separate from the criminal case and can proceed even if criminal charges are dropped. Your charges will be determined in a three-tier system depending on your BAC:
- General Impairment: .08% to .099% BAC level;
- High Impairment: .10% to .159% BAC level;
- Highest Impairment: .16% or higher BAC level.
For a first offense (general impairment), you will not receive a license suspension. For the first offense, high and highest impairment offenses, you will receive a 12-month suspension. Subsequent DUI offenses in a 10-year lookback period will result in an 18-month suspension.
Not driving is simply not an option for many people. Talk to a lawyer about your options to keep your driver’s license, including fighting to get charges reduced or dismissed, participating in probationary programs, like the ARD program, or obtaining an Occupational Limited License (OLL).
Step 5. Record the Details of What Happened
As soon as possible after your arrest, write a complete narrative of events of the day of your arrest. It may be easier to record a voice memo to transcribe later. Write down everything that happened in the car accident from the moment the police arrived until you got out of jail. Be as detailed as possible so that someone who wasn’t there can fully understand what happened. Details to cover should include:
- What did you eat and drink on the day of the arrest?
- How did you first encounter the police?
- Who was with you when you were arrested?
- If you were pulled over, why did the police say they were pulling you over?
- Did the police ask you to get out of the car, or were you ordered to get out of the car?
- Were you asked to do a Field Sobriety Test, or were you ordered?
- What specific Field Sobriety Tests did the police have you do?
- Were you given a choice to do a breath test or a blood test?
- Did the police ask you to provide a statement after your arrest?
- Did the police officer say or do anything unusual or questionable?
Step 6. Identify Potential Witnesses
When you wrote down the details of what happened, you included the names of people who were present at the time of your arrest. Prepare a list of places you went to and people who saw you or spoke with you. The police will likely not do any investigation following your arrest if you are arrested for a standard misdemeanor DUI. However, you can provide a list of witnesses for your attorney to contact. They may be able to help your case if they are able to testify that you were not intoxicated before you got behind the wheel.
Step 7. Gather Potential Evidence
If you aren’t sure what evidence will be helpful to your DUI defense, your lawyer can help you determine what may be helpful after reviewing your accounting of the events of your DUI arrest.
Evidence will generally corroborate your version of events of what happened. For example, if your DUI happened after you were at a bar where you had one drink, your restaurant receipt may back up your account. It should go without saying, but only share potential evidence with your attorney - do not provide it directly to the police.
Step 8. Listen to Your Attorney
Your criminal defense attorney is an expert in all things DUI and criminal defense - and is hired to and ethically obligated to look out for your best legal interests. They know the relevant laws, the prosecutors, and the judges. If they ask you a question, it is because they are trying to help you. Listen to their advice and tips, and you can learn from their other clients’ experiences (and mistakes). If you choose a criminal defense lawyer that you trust and respect and follow their advice, you will be in good hands.
Step 9. Stay Out of Trouble
You will not help your case at all if you acquire new charges before your original charges are resolved. No matter what you are charged with, demonstrating to the DA and judge that you did not acquire any more charges is important. If you are released from custody on your “own recognizance” (OR), the judge will likely tell you to “obey all laws, ” and may order you to stay away from alcohol and not spend time in any locations where alcohol is served or sold.
Not following orders can have significant consequences (added bail or staying in jail until trial). If you are charged with additional DUI charges, the penalties of additional DUIs may be significantly more severe.
Step 10. Be Patient
Having pending criminal charges can feel like a time of anxious limbo. Unfortunately, a DUI case may not resolve quickly when you go to trial. Resist the urge to plead guilty just to get an immediate outcome - this is not the best strategy for your future. In the end, taking the time to gather or suppress evidence, hire witnesses, and otherwise prepare for your DUI trial will allow your trial to prepare for the best possible trial. Your patience is necessary and worthwhile.
Step 11. Prepare for Your Arraignment
Your first court date in front of the judge is your arraignment. You will enter your plea during this appearance. You want to be on time and wear clean, conservative clothing for court. Have a courteous and respectful attitude, keeping in mind that your body language and facial expressions may be observed at any time.
You do not have to plead guilty - and you may be able to fight your charges and successfully win your case. A knowledgeable and capable DUI lawyer can guide you and advocate for your innocence, or otherwise challenge the merits of the state’s case against you.
Talk to a Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer About Your Case
Of all the steps to take after a DUI, talking to a lawyer as soon as possible is the most important. Although the penalties for a first offense may not involve jail time, you will have a permanent mark on your legal record. Additionally, a DUI is a “stacking offense” meaning future penalties increase significantly. Do not plead guilty to a DUI without speaking with a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer. Tauber Law offers a free and confidential case evaluation. Contact us to speak with an attorney today.
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