Were you recently charged with your first DUI?
Driving under the influence is a serious offense that can come with harsh legal penalties, even if it’s your first time. But, all is not lost.
Getting a DUI isn’t the end of the world, as long as you know what to do.
You may still be able to have your charges dropped, clear your driving record, and move on with your life. You need to understand the system and know what steps to take next.
Keep reading for our comprehensive guide on the seven essential steps to take if you’ve recently been charged with your first DUI.
7 Steps to Take After Getting a DUI
Defending yourself against DUI charges starts long before you ever get pulled over.
Put, your best bet is to avoid drinking and driving. If you’ve been consuming alcohol, don’t get behind the wheel. Instead, use a designated driver or transportation service.
Being unaware of your transportation options is no excuse. So, if you are a frequent partier, consider installing a sober ride finding app on your phone.
If you’ve already been charged, it’s too late to rely on responsible behavior.
Instead, follow these tips for what to do when you get a DUI:
1. Cooperate With Police
If you’ve been pulled over for driving under the influence, don’t be your own worst enemy!
You should be cooperative and polite with police officers at all times. Even if you are extremely intoxicated, do your best to comply with their requests.
Rude behavior, offensive outbursts, or demonstrating a poor attitude will only make your situation worse. It might even result in additional criminal charges.
Keep in mind, showing disrespect with your arresting officer will not help your case in court.
2. Know Your Rights
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself any time you’re dealing with the police is being aware of your legal rights.
In most cases, you can refuse a field sobriety test in favor of a more accurate testing method. This might include a blood test or breathalyzer at your local police station.
You also have the right to speak with a lawyer before answering police questions. If you are not sure whether your words might incriminate you, err on the side of safety and ask for legal representation right away.
3. Hire Legal Defense
If you’re wondering, “should I get a lawyer for my first DUI,” the easy answer is yes!
Whether you believe the charges against you are valid or not, your best bet is to hire an attorney as quickly as possible. And, if possible, opt for a DUI specialist over a general lawyer.
A robust legal defense can help protect you from additional charges and prepare you for your day in court. Attorneys also have an in-depth understanding of local laws and can help you best navigate the legal system in your area.
4. Prepare for Court
Once you’ve hired a lawyer, work with them to prepare your case.
Any evidence that may prove you were not intoxicated, including witnesses, may be helpful. It is also essential to discuss any outside circumstances, like medical conditions that could have affected you at the time of your arrest.
You’ll also want to work with your lawyer to determine which plea to enter. Many first time offenders choose to plead not guilty or “no contest” to avoid carrying a DUI on their criminal record.
You should always be honest and upfront with your attorney. Otherwise, it will be challenging for them to defend you against the DUI charges in your case.
5. Make a Good Impression
You should arrive in court on time, and prepared to make a positive first impression on the judge.
This includes dressing appropriately, speaking respectfully, and showing proper courtroom etiquette. It is also essential to come prepared with any documents or payments the court has requested.
Many first time offenders can defer harsh penalties and punishments by attending alcohol awareness and counseling courses. If you want to seem serious about changing your behavior in the future, arrive in court having researched these options.
6. Follow Court Orders
Even if you don’t personally agree with a judge’s decision, you are still obligated to comply with it.
As a first time offender, your sentence may include community service or court referred programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Complete these types of court orders and make all payments as quickly as possible.
This shows your willingness to comply and helps to continue the positive impression that you made in court. It also helps reduce your risk of falling behind on payments or not completing a court-ordered program.
Keep in mind that failure to follow a judge’s orders can result in further fines and penalties, or even a warrant for your arrest.
7. Don’t Become a Repeat Offender
When it comes to what to do after a DUI, staying out of trouble is a top priority.
First-time offenders are often given reduced sentences that don’t include jail time, suspended driving privileges, or a permanent record of the offense. But, if you get a second DUI, you won’t be so lucky.
If you plan to drink, use a designated driver or plan for transportation service ahead of time. And, if you’re unsure about how much you’ve had to drink or if it’s legal to get behind the wheel, err on the side of safety.
Your Next Steps
Now that you know a bit about the steps to take after getting a DUI, you’re ready to take action.
If you haven’t already, hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense as quickly as possible. And, take their advice seriously while preparing for court.
Don’t forget to arrive on time, well dressed, and prepared to make a positive impression at your arraignment. And, research a few local options for alcohol awareness classes before your court date.
This may be your first DUI, but it should also be your last! Take this opportunity to make a positive change to your habits when it comes to drinking and driving.
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