Mistakes You Should Avoid After Being Arrested for DUI
Being arrested for Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated is a very serious matter. Depending on the severity of the charge and any prior convictions the individual has, the punishments for a recent DUI or DWI arrest could include large fines, enormous court costs, and jail time. After being arrested for DUI, there are certain things an individual should do and certain mistakes they should work hard to avoid. Here are the three biggest mistakes people make and how you can avoid them.
Not Taking the Charges Seriously
Some people may feel as though a DUI or DWI arrest is not a big deal. The truth is, if you end up being convicted of Driving Under the Influence, those charges will follow you for the remainder of your life. This does not just mean a criminal record – it also means having a blemish on your record whenever a potential employer runs a background check, not to mention the increased car insurance costs alone could mean paying thousands of extra dollars every year because of a DUI or DWI conviction.
Many people are also unaware of the actual consequences of a DUI conviction. Depending on which state you live in, even a first offense of DUI can carry heavy penalties. Some examples of first DUI offense punishments are:
- Arizona – 1 Year License Suspension and 24 Hours in Jail
- Delaware – 1 Year License Revocation (2 Years if Under 21)
- Kentucky – 30 Day License Suspension and 48 Hours in Jail (4 Days for Aggravated Circumstances)
- New Jersey – 7 Month License Suspension and 12 Hours in Jail
- Texas – 180 Day License Suspension and 3 Days in Jail
For some, these may not seem like very heavy penalties for a first offense, but imagine the repercussions of not being able to get yourself to and from work or school for up to a year? Or missing work for 3 days because you are in jail? In some cases, a DUI or DWI arrest can lead to the individual losing their job for missing work due to these penalties or them falling behind and/or failing out of school since they are unable to get themselves to class or find a reliable source of transportation.
Not Hiring an Attorney or Hiring One Based on Price Alone
In some states, Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Intoxicated laws are very complicated. On the other hand, hiring a knowledgeable, reputable lawyer can sometimes be very expensive. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, they may qualify for free legal counsel for their DUI case. While public defenders serve a great purpose, they also see a number of different types of cases, making it impossible for them to be an expert in all situations or on all types of laws for the state.
Having legal counsel that is not well versed in the DUI or DWI laws for the state in which the case is taking place could mean the individual will not have the best chances of beating the charge or having the charge reduced. Whenever possible, the charged individual should seek legal counsel from an attorney who specializes in Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Intoxicated cases. There are a few reasons why this is such an important step in the DUI case process:
- An attorney specializing in DUI will know all the DUI/DWI laws for the state
- The attorney will be able to evaluate the case and decide if a plea bargain should be reached
- The attorney will be able to identify if the individual’s legal rights were violated in any way
- The attorney will be able to build a strong case and possibly get the charges reduced/dismissed
Individuals who opt for the public defender or cheaper legal counsel may not have all the benefits listed above. In many cases, a public defender will push for their client to take a plea bargain in order to avoid having the case go to trial – this is usually because they lack the knowledge to try the case properly and build a strong defense for the individual. Always do you best to pull resources to hire a DUI attorney and make sure to interview different lawyer to find the best fit to represent you during the trial.
Still Driving While Your License is Suspended
In most Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated cases, the individual’s license will be suspended 30 days after they are arrested. After being released from jail after the arrest, usually on bond, the individual will be free to live their daily life between their arrest and the start of trial without the ability to drive. One mistake that many people make is still driving even through their license has been revoked or suspended – this is usually the case when they are desperate to still go to work or school.
The problem with driving with a suspended license is the increased penalties the individual will face should they be pulled over. While the DUI penalties vary from one state to the next, individuals can generally expect the following punishments for driving with a suspended license:
- Paying Expensive Fines
- Additional Points Added to Driver’s License
- Additional Suspension or Cancellation of Driver’s License
- Felony Charges
- More Strict DMV License Reinstatement Procedures
- Mandatory Enrollment in Alcohol/Drug Education Courses
- Jail Time – Possibly Up to 1 Year
These punishments will then be tacked on to the individuals DUI or DWI conviction penalties, which could mean not having a license for a significantly longer period of time, spending more time in jail, or having to pay much higher fines than you can afford. It is also important to know that even harsher penalties than the ones listed above are passed down for those individuals who commit major traffic violation or are caught committing another DUI while on license suspension.
It is also important to remember that the penalties for driving with a suspended license do vary from one state to the next. Here are some examples of the varying penalties by state:
- Arizona – Vehicle Impoundment for Up to 30 Days
- Delaware – Extended Driver’s License Suspension Period
- Kentucky – Criminal Charge of Class B Misdemeanor which Carries Penalty of $250 Fine and Up to 90 Days in Jail
- New Jersey – Payment of a $500 Fine and Increased License Suspension of Up to 6 Months
- Texas – Payment of a $100 to $500 Fine and Jail Time Between 72 Hours and 6 Months
As outlined above, the penalties for driving with a suspended license range from simple fines to a substantial amount of jail time.
When this is combined with the possible penalties associated with the original Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated charge, it would mean a long stay in jail or a lengthy license suspension which could impact the individual’s ability to continue to attend work and/or school, leading to a loss of income and/or failing out or being unable to attend school.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.