Everyone knows that getting busted for DUI is bad. Everyone knows how to avoid getting a DUI, but no one ever tells you what happens after. That’s why we’re here to walk you through what happens next and suggest how you should manage the aftermath.
But first, I need to reestablish some tips on how to avoid getting a DUI, just in case you need a refresher course and in case anyone needs the heads up.
How To Avoid Getting Pulled Over for DUI:
- Hire an Uber, Lyft, or Taxi.
- Go out with a designated driver.
- Stay walking distance from your house.
- Be sure to stay under the legal limit if you decide to drive. In California the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08, and it doesn’t take much to reach it.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
What To Do if You Do Get Stopped:
- Have your license and registration ready.
- Make sure you cooperate with the officer. Your behavior will determine how the cop decides to move forward.
- Know your rights:
- You can politely decline the field sobriety tests and DO NOT tell the officer how much you have drank. Instead, popular DUI Attorney Darren Kavinoky says to politely tell the officer that your lawyer will kill you if you say anything without him there. This may be hard, but you don’t want to incriminate yourself because you thought you were doing the right thing.
- You are not legally obligated to take the roadside breathalyzer. Just know that you may be asked to submit a blood test or be taken to the police station for a more accurate breathalyzer that you shouldn’t refuse.
Most importantly… DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. It’s just not worth it.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into why you’re here.
What happens if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI?
The DUI timeline goes as follows:
- You got pulled over.
- You got arrested on suspicion of DUI.
- Your car will most likely be impounded.
- You are taken to jail and stuck in the “drunk tank”which will definitely be smelly and full of homeless people.
- You will spend a minimum of 8 hours behind bars, but can be held for up to an entire day depending on your level of drunkenness.
- You will be released from jail.
- You will start receiving tons of mail regarding DUI attorneys and legal stuff almost immediately.
- Your driver’s license will be suspended.
- You will be summoned to appear in court.
- The judge will sentence you based on your BAC as well as your prior history.
- 1st timers usually receive three months of DUI school, Mandatory AA Meetings and the DMV will decide how long your license will be suspended.
- You will be charged heavy court fees on top of the class fees.
Dealing With The Aftermath
First, You Need to Relax…
A DUI can be extremely stressful and make you question your self-worth. We all make mistakes. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Consider the fact that you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time and that you aren’t alone.
Take a deep breath. I know it’s a lot to deal with. Here’s how to effectively manage all of this while maintaining your sanity.
Look Into Getting An Attorney
Lawyers are intimidating and hiring one seems like something only wealthy people do, but that just isn’t the truth. Lawyers are there to help, believe it or not, and some specialize in handling DUI cases.
If you plan on hiring an attorney, be sure to look into at least three different people. Never settle on the first person you find. Go on Yelp to see who has good reviews. There are lawyers who are just in it to take advantage of unassuming clients and there are the ones who will really fight for you. You will know when you have found the right person.
At the very least, an attorney can soften the blow of the punishment that the court hands down to you.
Just be aware that lawyers aren’t cheap. That being said, they don’t have to be insanely pricey either. The bottom line is no matter what, you will be paying for your DUI in one way or another, but having an attorney will help you out significantly.
Plus, the cost of having a lawyer on retainer is nothing compared to what the courts will pin on you if you just go with a public defender.
A good tip is to start looking as soon as you get released from the jail and try to remember everything that happened prior to your arrest and everything afterward. The more information the lawyer has, the higher the chance he/she has at building a defense.
Even information as insignificant as what you ate beforehand can help them create a defense for you!
Call the DMV
I urge you to do this as soon as possible. If you are in California, you have 10 days from your day of arrest to request a Stay & Hearing from the DMV to avoid having your license suspended longer than necessary.
No one will explain this to you at the time of arrest. The sad fact is that it is written in small print on your citation, and they want you to miss it so that they get more money. The system aims to take advantage of those who don’t know any better.
If you hire an attorney, they will tell you to do this, and they will attend the DMV hearing on your behalf to negotiate your suspension so you don’t have to. If you hire an attorney who is experienced in DUI cases they will know the players at the DMV and likely have a good relationship with them. Most importantly, they will ensure that you won’t be taken advantage of.
Depending on where you are, you may request a restricted driver’s license so that you can travel to work and to appointments. In order to get this you must be enrolled in an approved DUI course, pay a reinstatement fee and have SR-22 Insurance to cover the “High Risk” factor that your regular car insurance will want to charge you. If you get it ASAP, the increase won’t be as big.
Plan A Way to Save Money
There’s no way around the fact that getting a DUI will cost you a lot of money as you can tell. Your finances will take a hit, lawyer or not, so be sure you adjust your life accordingly.
Consider using a credit card on the more important stuff like court fees or even paying off the lawyer. This way you will have them off your back and you can rest assured that the lawyer is fully focused on the case, not his payment.
That Netflix account you only use a few times a month? Cancel it. Same goes for all the subscription services that you are paying for by having it automatically withdrawn from your account.
Have some old stuff that you don’t need anymore? Sell it.
The point of this is to take care of all the financial aspects of your DUI so that they aren’t looming over your head and causing you more stress than you need in your life.
Wait For Your Court Hearing
Don’t get this confused with your DMV hearing. The DUI court and DMV court are two separate entities who will dish out two different punishments. Ironically, the DMV will be the harder court to defend yourself against, even with a lawyer.
Soon after the DUI you will receive a date in the mail that tells you when you must show up to court. If you have a lawyer, he/she will go on your behalf. This is where they will let the judge know that you plan on contesting the charge and you will be asked to return on a separate date with a defense.
Sometimes this can take several months, but the longer the gap, the better chance you or your lawyer have to come up with a solid defense strategy.
Once you finally go to court, you will enter your plea (guilty or not guilty) and accept your charges, if any. First time offenders get the easiest punishment if it doesn’t involve anyone getting hurt or damaging property.
Sometimes, although your lawyer may not be able to win the entire case, he/she can lessen your overall charges. This can be the amount of money you have to pay or the amount of time you have to go to DUI classes.
After the case is closed, you will have to pay a court fee which will depend on your specific punishment. A useful thing to know is that the longer they held you in the jail following the arrest, the more money can be taken off your court fee.
Lastly, Try To Stay Positive
You may feel bad about yourself for a while but it’s important to know that you are going to be okay. Don’t let this mistake bring you down and affect your life. I know it can be hard to manage the aftermath, but you will get through it.
After you serve your time in DUI classes and pay off your lawyer or court fees, you will be free from the DUI and its weight. Then you can work on building yourself and your finances back up. Consider it a learning experience.