What Happens After a DUI: Driving Under the Influence
In 2014, over 1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence. Local law enforcement across America has been cracking down on drunk driving over the past few years and increasing punishment severity along the way.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, it can be a scary and confusing process. Especially if it is your first time.
With that said, do not forget that you still have rights as well as access to certain protections. Read on, and we will walk you through what happens after a DUI arrest and how you can best protect yourself.
What is a DUI?
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and it refers to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including some prescription medications). Every state in the country has laws against driving under the influence. Some states refer to the act as a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).
Across the country, it is against the law to drive if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. How impaired or affected you are by the alcohol does not change it from being a crime.
To prove that a person is guilty of driving under the influence, two things must be proven. First is that the suspect drove a vehicle. “Driving” in this case refers to controlling and steering the vehicle.
Many people though have been arrested with a “DUI while parked”. An officer may decide to make an arrest if they suspect that you have the intent to drive, even if your car is idle or off.
The second thing that must be proven is that you are under the influence. The officer must be able to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was at 0.08% or higher and also that you were impaired.
If your BAC reached this threshold but you showed no signs of impairment, you might have a better chance at winning your case, although this is not guaranteed.
What is a Felony DUI?
In many states, a first time DUI counts as a misdemeanor. Although the punishment for a misdemeanor is no walk in the park, it is much more preferable to receiving a felony DUI.
If, while driving under the influence, you should happen to injure or kill another person, you can be found guilty of a felony. You may then end up going to state prison for several years if convicted. Having prior DUI arrests can also result in felony charges or harsher sentences than for first-time offenders.
If you happen to be in a car accident, make sure that you consult with qualified car accident attorneys.
In some states, multiple DUI convictions are enough to warrant a felony charge. This is regardless of whether or not you harmed another person.
Arrest and Booking
If you are caught driving under the influence, you will probably not be driving yourself home. The police will most likely arrest you on the spot and take you to the police station. Once there, the police will book you.
Everyone who receives a driver’s license in the United States automatically agrees with “implied consent” laws. This means that you have agreed to comply with future law enforcement requests to take a BAC or chemical test to determine your sobriety.
Refusing to take a chemical test on the spot can result in license suspension and other penalties, regardless of your intoxication level.
It is important to note that chemical tests differ from field sobriety tests. While chemical tests have scientific backing, field tests are much more subjective. A field sobriety test involves a police officer asking you to perform different exercises such as standing on one foot or walking in a straight line.
The problem with these tests is that they are not as conclusive as a chemical test and even sober people can fail them. In many states, field sobriety tests are not actually mandatory and you can tell the police officer that you politely refuse to take it.
For example, Kansas recently got rid of its law requiring people to take field sobriety tests. Make sure you know your state’s laws.
What Is Booking?
Although bookings vary from state to state, they usually involve a police officer taking down your personal information. After this, your mug shot will likely be taken. The cops might also search your belongings and confiscate your personal belongings, especially if you have any contraband on you.
Your fingerprints will also be taken, usually for all 10 fingers. A full-body strip search will also occur. This is to check and see if you are hiding any drugs or weapons. They will then put you into their database and see if there are any outstanding warrants for your arrest.
Finally, you will be placed in a holding facility where you will either await your trial or wait for your bail to be posted.
Usually, for first-time offenders, this is the only time during the DUI process where you will spend be in jail. In some states, you can be released immediately if someone else comes to pay your bail and take you home.
However, many states have passed laws that stipulate DUI offenders must spend a minimum amount of days in jails, even if it is their first offense.
Contact a Lawyer
Whenever you are arrested for a DUI, it is important that you contact an experienced DUI lawyer. When you are arrested, the police will most likely not Mirandize you. Despite this, you still have rights.
The appropriate time to contact a lawyer is when police start asking you questions beyond basic, personal information. Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Once an officer starts asking you questions like “when is the last time you ate?” or “how much did you drink?”, that is the time to lawyer up. You are not obligated to answer these questions on your own. Politely and clearly tell the officer that you would like a lawyer present.
Even if you were driving under the influence, remember that you do not have all of the information. A lawyer will be able to look at all of the evidence and check for any police misconduct. If you fail a field sobriety test, they might even be able to point out that the ground was too uneven or you wore high heels which compromised your balance.
Every little detail matters. A reliable DUI lawyer can help determine what happens after a DUI. That can mean the difference between 6 months in jail or just having to pay a relatively small fine. And if you have previous convictions, having a lawyer becomes even more crucial.
Even if you have trouble speaking the language, you can find a lawyer who can help you.
Find a Bail Bondsman
Posting bail is often a requirement following an arrest. Many people end up getting released without bail. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the aid of a bondsman is required.
In this situation, you will have to pay a fee upfront. After you have paid the fee, the bondsman will post bail for you. This can be an expensive process but it will still cost less than going ahead and paying your entire bail to the court.
Keep in mind that a bail bondsman is guaranteeing that you will appear in court. If you do not show up at all of your hearings then the bondsman will likely try to find you.
Request a DMV Hearing
Once you are arrested, you have a maximum number of days to make a formal request for a DMV hearing. You usually have a 10-day limit and that includes holidays and weekends.
At a DMV hearing, it will be determined whether or not you are allowed to keep your driver’s license. If you do not request a DMV hearing then your driver’s license will be suspended automatically.
After your arrest, you will be handed a summons for a date and time to appear in court. There, you will have the opportunity to defend yourself. You can either plead guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed.
Many times, legal teams are able to reduce their clients’ sentencings by entering a plea deal for reckless driving.
If you plead not guilty, you and the rest of the court will most likely have to watch the dashcam footage of your arrest. This will probably include footage of your field sobriety test if you agreed to take one.
If you do not succeed at your DMV hearing, or you don’t end up getting one at all, your license is likely to be suspended. The police department will likely issue you a temporary license.
This license will expire on the date of your court appearance. The length of how long your driver’s license is suspended will be determined on the circumstances of your arrest.
If you refused a chemical or breathalyzer test then your license suspension could end up being for a much longer period of time than if you took the test and failed. Most states require that drivers take these tests and give out relatively harsh penalties to those who refuse.
If you are curious as to what happens after a DUI, you can most likely expect to pay a good amount of money in various fees and fines. Typically, for your DUI, you will have to pay at least one fine. Refusing to comply with police, such as not taking a breathalyzer test, can also result in fines.
Depending on what happened while you were driving, such as if you injured someone or damaged property, you will likely have to pay certain fees to cover expenses.
Your Car Insurance Might Go Up
If you are arrested for drunk driving, you can expect your insurance to go up. Driving drunk is an inherently dangerous move. You are risking yourself, your car, outside property, and the health and safety of other people.
Insurance companies worry that risky drivers will cost them a lot of money over time so they will up the costs for people who are caught driving under the influence.
In fact, drunk driving is so risky that your auto insurance company may drop you completely. If this happens, you will have to seek out another insurance company. A drunk driving arrest may even cause the rates for your life insurance to go up as well.
Typically, people who are convicted of drunk driving are required to get SR-22 insurance. This is a special type of insurance policy that proves that you have liability insurance.
You Will Have to Undergo an Evaluation
If you are convicted of a DUI, you can expect to have to take certain classes. To get your license back, you will have to complete an education program that teaches you about alcohol and drugs.
Also, a trained counselor will most likely be assigned to you. They will check to see if you have an alcohol abuse disorder by asking you a series of questions with regards to your relationship with alcohol.
Install an Ignition Interlock Device
Depending on your state, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car. This device will test your blood alcohol concentration.
Only if you have an appropriate BAC will the device unlock and allow you to drive your vehicle.
Understanding How You Can Affect What Happens After a DUI
Your actions can help determine what happens after a DUI. By hiring a qualified lawyer, you can end up with a much more smooth and pleasant experience than if you went about it on your own.
Looking for qualified DUI lawyers? Contact us today!