America must rise above the influence. 28 Americans die every day in drunk-driving accidents.
That’s why Georgia police officers and prosecutors take DUIs seriously. As such, DUI arrests are very stressful. You must know what to do after a DUI.
What should you do once the police pull you over? How should you behave after you get arrested? How should you help your attorney prepare your case?
Answer these questions, and you can rise to the challenge of a DUI arrest. Here is your quick guide.
Invoke Your Rights
You have rights during all encounters with the police, regardless of where you are and what you have done. Georgia has a stop and identify law. You must hand over your license and tell an officer your name if they ask for it.
But you do not have to say anything else. You have the right to remain silent and avoid incriminating yourself. You should tell the officer, “I wish to assert my constitutional right to remain silent to all questions.”
You can refuse to consent to searches of your person or vehicle. Officers are allowed to frisk you if they believe you are carrying a weapon. You should still say, “I do not consent to any search,” so they do not search your vehicle or bag.
You may refuse a breathalyzer test, but your license may be suspended. You can also refuse field sobriety tests without facing any legal penalties.
Even as you are invoking your rights, remain as polite as possible. An officer may become angry at you and try to encourage you to speak. Remain calm and reassert your rights.
Contact a DUI Lawyer
Being arrested can be extremely stressful. But do not panic if the police put you in handcuffs. Cooperate with them and listen to them as they explain your rights to you.
You should insist that you will remain silent and that you want to see a DUI attorney right away. The police may not help you with contacting or hiring a lawyer. If you don’t know a lawyer, contact a family member who can talk to someone for you.
While you are waiting for your lawyer to show up, stay silent and keep to yourself. If the police try to interrogate you, invoke your right to remain silent.
Having a lawyer with you while you are in jail is important. But you do not have to stick with this lawyer through time.
Find some questions to ask your lawyer. Figure out what their experience and knowledge of the area are like. If they don’t seem knowledgeable, find someone else.
Understand Your Charges
Have your lawyer explain what your charges are to you. Remember that you can get charged with driving under the influence, in addition to other acts.
In the state of Georgia, a driver is legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or higher. Someone can exceed the limit after a few drinks. Drivers of commercial vehicles become legally drunk at .04 while drivers under 21 become drunk at .02.
An open container violation is a separate charge. Anyone who has an open bottle of alcohol in their car can face the charge. It does not matter if the person was drinking from it or not.
Many drivers who receive drinking and driving charges also get aggressive driving charges. This occurs when a driver operates a motor vehicle to hurt or intimidate someone else.
A first-time conviction of a DUI can land someone in prison for up to 12 months. Their license gets suspended for 12 months, though the driver can apply for reinstatement after 120 days.
The more convictions, the higher the criminal penalties. A second conviction carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 48 hours in jail. After a third conviction, a driver becomes a habitual violator and faces limitations on their license.
The severity of the penalties means you must prepare a good defense case. Help your lawyer however you can. Hand over relevant documents and tell them about your encounter with the police.
Your license may or may not be suspended after an arrest. You may receive a hardship license, which will allow you to drive to work or important locations.
Even if you have a license, you should limit your driving. Being arrested for another driving offense will make your DUI charge harder to fight. Arrange for transportation through friends and relatives.
Try to live as normal a life as possible. Attend to your work and family responsibilities, and let your attorney do their job. If your case is stressing you out, talk to a psychiatrist.
Prepare for Court
Remain in touch with your attorney as they prepare your case for you. Talk to them about how things are going and what witnesses you can help them with.
As your trial date gets closer, talk about appearing in court. Figure out what you will wear and learn how you should behave while in court. Decide if you want to testify in your defense or not.
Figure out when your court appearance is scheduled, and get to the court well in advance. Dress in formal and conservative attire.
Be as calm and respectful as possible while you are in the courtroom. Speak to your lawyer if you have questions, but don’t address anyone else. Be deferential to the judge and answer their questions using simple terms.
What to Do After a DUI
You must understand what to do after a DUI. Invoke your right to silence as a cop talks to you. Refuse searches and ask for a lawyer’s help.
Contact a DUI lawyer once you go through booking. Doing so will help you get a clear understanding of what your charges are.
Even a first conviction of DUI can put you in prison. This means that you must prepare a good case for yourself. You can help your attorney by avoiding further driving offenses and preparing for a court appearance.
Find a lawyer with drive. Cook and Tolley, LLP serves Athens residents. Contact us today and set an appointment.
Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601