Drunk driving kills 28 people in the U.S. every single day. That’s one person per every 51 minutes. Data from the CDC shows that, in 2015, drunk driving was responsible for about 10,000 deaths, one-third of the total traffic-related deaths. It’s easy to see why law enforcement is so hard on drunk drivers.
What should I do after being arrested for a DUI?
The first time someone gets arrested for a DUI can carry some massive consequences. Some things that may occur include:
Jail time: Each state has different laws on jail time, and it also depends on how heavily intoxicated the driver was and if they caused any damage. Most first-time DUIs get categorized as misdemeanors, but if they caused harm or injury to someone else, it could get classified as a felony.
Community service: In rare cases, the driver might’ve gotten off lucky and only had to do community service to make up for their crime. It’s not as bad as jail, but it’s still not an ideal situation. Many DUI lawyers may try and get their clients to do community service rather than serve jail time.
License suspension: Drunk drivers may have their driving privileges revoked. Once again, this depends significantly on where someone lives. For example, California residents will have their license revoked for half a year for their first DUI. There is always the option of applying for a restricted license which allows the person to drive to work, school, and any court-mandated programs.
Fines and other costs: Anyone convicted of a DUI is going to have to pay a lot of money. An initial fine might cost anywhere between $500 and $2000. Add that to court fees, DUI lawyer fees, license reinstatement fees, increased car insurance rates, towing and impoundment fee, and much more. The total cost of a DUI often ranges between $13,000 and $27,000.
Education: Drivers often must take classes to help them prevent drug or alcohol problems as well as traffic school classes to help re-educate them about safe driving.
A DUI is something that nobody wants. Drunk driving is never a smart option. Unfortunately, there are about 1,500,000 drunk drivers arrested every year. One driver out of every 80 gets arrested for a DUI.
The easiest way for anyone to avoid getting a DUI is merely not to drink and drive. People can effortlessly call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get them home since the costs of doing so are minor to the costs of getting a DUI. ‘
But what happens if you make a few bad decisions and you get pulled over?
Here are a few tips:
Be polite and act normal. Drivers should always find a safe place to pull over and be as respectful to the officer as possible. Police officers are far more forgiving towards drivers who treat them respectfully as opposed to those who treat them scornfully. Give them your license, registration, and insurance and step out of the car when asked.
Know their rights. Police officers aren’t required to read drivers their Miranda rights, but that doesn’t mean that drivers can’t invoke those rights. Officers often ask self-incriminating questions such as “How much have you been drinking tonight?” Any DUI lawyer will say that drivers are not obligated to answer these questions and should politely decline.
Drivers might also be subject to field sobriety tests such as standing on one leg, walking in a straight line, or moving their eyes in a specific direction. They are incredibly subjective and don’t test for the driver’s alcohol levels, but instead look for signs of physical impairment.
Drivers can always explain to the officer that such tests aren’t required and politely decline to take any of them. However, this might give the officer more reason to arrest them.
The other common type of test is the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test where the driver is required to blow into a handheld breathalyzer device. The PAS is mostly used to determine if the officer has any probable cause to arrest the suspect, and handheld breathalyzers can be wildly inaccurate. Refusing to take the PAS can result in having one’s license revoked, but then again, being found guilty will have the same result. Drivers will have to submit a test at some point at the station, but they can always decline to take the preliminary one.
Take a chemical test. One way or another, drivers will have to get tested. The first option is a breath test. Most DUI lawyers recommend taking this test because it’s easy to dispute its validity in court. Refusing this test can result in a license suspension since implied consent laws require one to take a breath test when asked by an officer as a prerequisite to obtaining a license. Additionally, the prosecutor could always use this against the defendant by telling the jury that the defendant refused to take a breath test.
The other option is to take a blood test which is usually more accurate and can be retested by independent labs. The court ruled in 2016 that states may not criminalize the refusal of taking a blood test unless the officers have a warrant or need to administer it due to exigent circumstances where obtaining a breath test is impossible.
Write down everything that happened. Memory is a fleeting thing, and the more one can remember of a situation, the better they can be equipped to deal with it. Those arrested for a DUI should quickly write down everything they remember such as how much they were drinking, how long it had been since their last drink, what happened before driving, when and where the driver pulled over, how the officer behaved, what tests they took, and so on. Record every little detail no matter how insignificant they may seem. For example, a driver who was wearing high heels or tight clothing would naturally have a harder time standing on one foot or walking in a straight line. The more information one has, the more a DUI lawyer can use such information to their advantage.
Contact a DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer is anyone’s last line of defense against the court, so choosing the right one is essential. Defendants might want to ask potential DUI lawyers questions such as how many cases they’ve handled, how many cases went to a jury trial, and so forth. It’s important to find a reputable DUI lawyer who knows the law up and down and can accurately represent the defendant in court.
Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI is not to drink and drive. There are too many countless alternatives to drinking and driving such as Uber & Lyft, please use them. Those who do plan to drink and drive in the same afternoon should monitor how much they drink and make sure they eat food and drink water as possible to absorb the alcohol. If you end up in trouble and find yourself in a not-so-great situation, make sure to contact our DUI attorneys for legal guidance.