Drinking and driving is a serious problem in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a number of statistics on it. By the time a person has been caught driving under the influence (DUI), they have driven at least 80 times in that state. Over the past decade, more than 29 million people have said they have driven after drinking. Nearly 30% of people arrested for a DUI are repeat offenders. DUI incidents are very costly to the economy. Each year, nearly $200 billion is lost to this crime. If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, you may not know what to do.
What You Need to Do if You Have Been Charged with Driving While Intoxicated:
- Get out of jail. If you have been arrested and are in jail, you need to do whatever you can to get out of that place as soon as you can. If this is your first offense, you may be “released on your own recognizance” or RORed. This is the best case scenario that you can hope for. If you do not get that, the judge will set a bail amount. Unless you go to a bail bonds company, you will sit in jail. Some people say that you can take care of your case from in jail but those people are wrong. The amount that you will have to pay varies from state to state. You can get a friend or family member to arrange your bail for you or you can call the bail bondsmen yourself but you will most likely need someone “on the outside” to sign for you. They will be responsible for the full amount of the bond if you take off when you get out of jail.
- Start looking for a DUI attorney. The charges associated with driving while intoxicated carry serious consequences and you need a lawyer. No matter what the evidence was that was collected at the time of your arrest, a good attorney can challenge any of that evidence. Everything from the video they took to the breathalyzer you blew can be challenged. The consequences of a conviction for a DUI charge are serious enough to warrant getting the best DUI attorney you can find.
- Talk to your friends and family. Given the number of people who are arrested every day for driving while intoxicated, the chances are good that you know at least one person who has faced the same charges as you are. Ask the people you know and trust if they have any suggestions for a good criminal justice attorney. Ask them how they found their lawyer and what they thought about working with them. This ca help you narrow down your search.
- Interview a few law firms. Most law firms have a free first consultation policy for working with them. Take advantage of this and go into several firms with all of the questions that you have. You should feel like your case will be handled thoroughly and competently.
Questions to ask the law firms:
- How long have you worked in DUI law? Like doctors, lawyers specialize. If you want that evidence tossed out, you need a lawyer who is very experienced in DUI offenses to take care of your case.
- What is your law firm’s reputation? Most criminal cases (over 90%) are settled out of court so you need a well known law firm who is good at negotiating pleas.
- How much of your time is spent on DUI cases?
- What is the fee structure? Some law firms will make you pay everything up front while others will let you pay over time. You want a good lawyer but you still need to be able to afford it.
- Who will work on your case? Many law firms hire a number of different people. Remember you are hiring these people, you should know who you are hiring.
Being charged with driving while intoxicated is a bad thing. It is also a terrifying experience. It may feel like the end of the world but it isn’t. With the help of the right lawyer, you will get through it.