You step into your car smiling, having had a great time at your friend’s birthday gathering. It was a small, intimate affair with good wine and great conversation. You had a few drinks over the couple of hours you were there, but you feel fine to drive the short five miles back to your house. Only three minutes into the drive you hear the blare of police sirens behind you. You pull over to the side of the road, uncertain what you did wrong. It turns out that you were driving ten miles over the speed limit and the policeman begins to write up a ticket. Then, much to your surprise, he takes out a breathalyzer to discern the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in your body. Your BAC is .13, .05 above the legal limit for people over the age of 21 (there is no tolerable limit for those under the age of 21). Now, not only do you have a costly ticket, but you have a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. What should you do next?
First, do not panic. It is imperative to remain calm and contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately. The consequences of receiving a DUI vary tremendously depending upon the actions you take after you are charged. The DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor in the following situations: (1) you have no prior felony DUIs on your criminal record, (2) you were not involved in a car accident that resulted in an injury, (3) you did not cause an accident resulting in death, and (4) it is not your fourth or more offense within a period of 10 years.
If you receive a DUI, you will have to appear in court for your arraignment, which is when the charge against you is read. At the arraignment, you must submit a plea of guilty, not guilty or “no contest.” If this is your first offense and no one was injured because of your driving while intoxicated, an attorney can prove particularly useful. A good attorney may be able to convince the court to reduce the charge and make sure you preserve your right to an Administrative Per Se hearing before the DMV to challenge the suspension of your license. You only have ten days following the receipt of your DUI to ask for an Administrative Per Se hearing. If you fail to do so within that time period, you waive the right to contend the suspension of your license.
While getting a DUI is a serious offense, a good attorney can take key steps to help you fight the possible penalties. The costs of DUIs can include an increase in insurance payments, trouble applying for jobs and even difficulty getting into schools. A knowledgeable attorney can help you fight your charge with the DMV and potentially walk away free of all charges.