You should never take a DUI arrest lightly. Even a conviction on a misdemeanor DUI charge can result in you having to pay steep fines and spend time in jail.
What’s more, after you have been convicted on a first DUI charge, a second arrest might be charged as a felony and subject to a mandatory minimum prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines.
Furthermore, if convicted of a felony DUI, you may lose your driver’s license, your right to vote, your ability to join the military, and other civil rights. You will also be prohibited from working in certain industries and have trouble finding employment and housing.
Therefore, it is important that you fight to keep even a first DUI conviction off of your record.
Ways to Deal With a DUI
There are essentially two general ways to deal with a DUI charge:
- Pay a lawyer to fight the charge and keep your record clean.
- Plead guilty, pay the fine and have a DUI go on your record.
Just because you are charged with a DUI doesn’t mean that you will be convicted. Depending on your record and the circumstance of your arrest, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you get the charge dismissed and keep the DUI off of your record, or, at least, minimize the consequence of your conviction.
However, if you plead guilty, you will likely receive even stiffer penalties, even for a first offense. Furthermore, you will have a DUI conviction on your record, which will, in turn, put you at risk of receiving much harsher penalties should you unfortunately be charged with a subsequent DUI within a certain period of time.
Fighting a DUI
It’s important to remember that if you do not plead guilty to the charge, the state must prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. If it is unable to prove any elements required for a DUI conviction, you will be found not guilty.
Furthermore, if the police violated any rules in making the traffic stop or in administering to you the Breathalyzer or field sobriety test, the charge against you may be dismissed.
The two most common ways of fighting a DUI are:
- By Challenging the arresting officer’s right to stop you and
- By Disputing the validity of the Breathalyzer or field sobriety test that was administered to you after you were stopped.
In many cases, an experienced DUI lawyer can review your arrest details to look for violations in the protocol that can lead to the dismissal of the charges against you. For example, if the arresting officer did not see you committing any traffic violation, the officer may not have had sufficient reason to stop you. Your lawyer may then petition the court to dismiss the case for violation of your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Likewise, the officer may not have administered the Breathalyzer or the field sobriety test to you in accordance with standard procedures. He may even have forgotten to test you at all. If your lawyer can prove that the officer did not follow a standard procedure in ascertaining your blood alcohol level, your case may be dismissed.
In any event, only an experienced DUI lawyer will have the expertise to spot these violations and use them in your defense. So, before you decide how you will deal with a DUI arrest, you consult with an experienced DUI lawyer who can evaluate your case and help you decide which course of action to take.