If you’re facing a DUI charge, you’re far from alone. In 2016 alone, over 1 million U.S. drivers were arrested for driving under the influence.
The fact that you have company, of course, doesn’t make the charge any less stressful or scary! However, keeping a calm head from the moment you get pulled over can help you avoid long-term consequences.
If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, your next steps should always revolve around protecting yourself and gathering information to help your case. Let’s take a look at what you should know.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself
When you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving, the first thing to keep in mind is that the police officer is not your friend. Minimize chatter with the officer, do not admit to having “just one beer,” and stick to your right to remain silent whenever possible. In some cases, talking—even if you think you’re innocent—can harm your case in the long run.
This doesn’t mean showing disrespect. Make sure that you are respectful even in refusing to talk, as impoliteness will only hurt you. If you must answer a direct question, try to answer only “yes” or “no.”
In addition, you should avoid field sobriety tests where possible. Whether the test is a hand-eye coordination test or a balance test, they offer local law enforcement a chance to establish intoxication. You may, however, have to submit a breath or blood test.
Gather Information to Help Your Case
Gather any information that can help you cast doubt on the police’s case against you. This may mean writing down the details you need to remember or interviewing witnesses who can provide a statement.
Note the time and location of your arrest, why the officer pulled you over, the type of breathalyzer test you took, the road conditions, and anything else that may be helpful.
Hire an Attorney
The biggest mistake you can make after a DUI charge is not hiring an attorney right away. Whether or not you end up going to court, a DUI attorney can help you with the steps above, in addition to the legal complications that come next. This makes them well worth their attorney fees!
In some cases, an experienced lawyer can even help keep the DUI off of your criminal record. Most will also be able to help you learn how to lower DUI penalties when applicable.
Know What to Do When Facing a DUI Charge
At the end of the day, the steps you take immediately following your DUI charge will dictate your long-term future. Following the steps above can help you cast doubt on the legal case against you, but you’ll need to act fast. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney for support.
Need more of the essential tips you should know? Check out our other guides for more insights.