Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can result in severe legal consequences and, most importantly, cause serious injury or death. Despite the risks, approximately 32 people die every day in the United States due to drunk driving-related accidents.
If you are stopped for a suspected DUI, staying calm, cooperating with the officer, and seeking legal help are essential. After the arrest, it is crucial to protect yourself legally and avoid future legal troubles, such as hiring a DUI attorney, staying away from bars and alcohol, attending court hearings, and following the court's orders.
To help you understand how to protect your rights, here’s a closer look at how to handle a DUI stop and legal resources for defendants charged with a DUI.
What To Do After You’ve Been Stopped for a Suspected DUI
If you're pulled over, and the officer suspects that you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can be a stressful experience. It’s important to stay calm, cooperate, and avoid implicating yourself.
Here are a few important steps to follow if you’ve been stopped for a DUI.
1. Stay calm and cooperate
When the officer approaches your car, roll down your window, and keep your hands visible on the steering wheel. Stay calm and polite, and be prepared to show your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If the officer asks you to step out of the car, do so promptly and without argument. Refusing to comply with the officer's requests can lead to further legal trouble.
2. Answer questions carefully
The officer may ask you some questions, such as "Have you been drinking tonight?" or "Where are you coming from?" You have the right to remain silent, as anything you say can be used against you in court if you are charged with DUI.
You should not admit to drinking or being impaired since doing so may lead to your arrest and prosecution.
3. Do not submit to a field sobriety test
The officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test, which typically involves physical tasks such as walking in a straight line or standing on one foot. Unlike chemical tests, implied consent laws do not make you obligated to submit to field sobriety tests.
Field tests are often difficult and unreliable, and it’s not uncommon for drivers to fail these tests even if they aren’t impaired. You have the right to refuse them, which may help you avoid being charged.
4. Take a breathalyzer test
If the officer suspects you are under the influence, they may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This test measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and can provide evidence of impairment.
Many states have an implied consent law, which means that you automatically consent to take a chemical test when you drive. In states with implied consent, refusing to take a breathalyzer test may result in the automatic suspension of your license for several months.
You still have the right to refuse the test, but doing so can result in a suspended license or other legal consequences. You should also keep in mind that you can still be charged with DUI if further evidence suggests that you are impaired.
5. Do not make any statements after being arrested
If you are arrested for DUI, it is essential to contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should avoid making any statements to the police. Many police officers wear body cameras, and police cruisers often have microphones and cameras that record what you say, making it important to avoid saying anything that could be used against you in court.
What To Do After Going Home
After you've been stopped for a suspected DUI, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself legally and avoid future legal troubles.
1. Hire a DUI attorney
If you’re arrested for DUI, hiring a DUI attorney is important to help you build a strong defense and navigate the legal system.
Your lawyer can advise you, help gather evidence that supports your defense, and help reduce your charges. A DUI conviction can result in serious penalties, so hiring a DUI lawyer to help you fight this charge is essential.
2. Avoid bars and alcohol
It's essential to stay away from bars and alcohol while your case is pending to avoid further legal trouble. This means not drinking alcohol or even being in places where alcohol is served. If you are convicted, you may also be required to attend an alcohol abuse treatment program.
3. Attend court hearings
Attending all court hearings related to your DUI case, including arraignments, pre-trial conferences, and trials, is essential. Failing to appear can result in a warrant for your arrest and additional legal consequences.
4. Consider alcohol treatment
If you have a problem with alcohol, consider seeking treatment to address the issue. This can demonstrate to the court that you are taking steps to address the root cause of your DUI arrest, potentially resulting in a more favorable outcome for your case.
5. Follow the court's orders
If you are convicted of DUI, the court will likely impose certain orders, such as attending alcohol treatment, paying fines, or performing community service. It is crucial to follow these orders to avoid additional legal consequences. Following these orders may also be necessary to regain your driving privileges.
6. Get your license reinstated
If your license was suspended or revoked as a result of your DUI arrest, you will need to take steps to get it reinstated. This may involve completing an alcohol treatment program, paying fines, or installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Legal Resources for Defendants
If you are facing DUI charges, several online legal resources are available to help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.
American Bar Association (ABA)
The ABA provides a range of resources that help the public learn more about important legal topics and find legal help.
The ABA website features information regarding DUI laws, implied consent laws, and what to expect in a criminal court case. Individuals can also use the website to find their state bar association, which can give them information about attorneys in their state.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The NHTSA provides information on DUI laws, enforcement, and prevention strategies. They also offer a free online course for law enforcement officers on detecting impaired drivers. Learning more about national and state-specific DUI laws can help you avoid being charged with DUI, build a defense if you are charged with DUI, and understand what penalties you may face if convicted.
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
The NACDL is a professional organization that represents criminal defense attorneys and provides resources and training for its members. This includes advocacy, education, and referral resources to help both attorneys and defendants in criminal cases.
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