Driving under the influence (DUI) is never a good idea, but if you’ve already been detained and charged, let’s make the best out of a bad situation.
If our article on WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU’RE STOPPED FOR A DUI did not help you avoid getting charged for driving under the influence, take these 5 steps now:
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS & KEEP QUIET
When you are being arrested, you should be told “You have the right to remain silent.” This means that you do not have to answer questions or give statements. If you do say anything, it could be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney during questioning — but it is up to you to request one. If you cannot afford a lawyer, a public defender will be appointed for you.
During a DUI investigation, prior to arresting you and reading you your rights, officers will ask a series of investigative questions – don’t answer them. These questions include:
- Have you been drinking?
- How much have you had to drink?
- Where were you drinking?
- Where are you going?
- Where are you coming from?
- When did you last eat?
- When did you last sleep? For how long?
- Do you take any medications?
- Are there any mechanical problems with your car?
- Do you have any medical conditions?
Politely decline to answer these questions, and also politely decline to participate in any Field Sobriety Tests, or the Portable Alcohol Sensor (PAS).
Once you are arrested, however, you do not have the right to consult an attorney prior to choosing blood or breath. Consider blood, as it saves a sample that you can have independently tested later. If you refuse to take a test, enhanced penalties may apply.
Ask to speak with an attorney immediately and simply respond “no comment” to any questions you are asked. Speaking will likely only hurt your case. To read more about Miranda Rights, check out our article.
STEP 2: WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU REMEMBER
Whenever you are released, be sure to write down everything you remember about your arrest and the events leading up to it. Writing things down can not only help you to collect your thoughts but can also help when you are looking for a defense attorney.
Here is a list of questions to get you started:
Before driving, where were you and what were you doing? Where were you pulled over? Who were you with and can they testify to your activity? How many drinks per hour did you have? What type of drinks did you have? Did the officer treat you badly at any point? What instructions did the officer give you? When did the officer read you the Miranda rights? How did you interact with the officer?
*Do not show this writing to anyone except your attorney. If it is discovered by the government, it can be used against you in court.
STEP 3: HIRE AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Find a trustworthy defense attorney who can help you avoid jail time and possibly reduce or eliminate your sentence. When looking for an attorney, be sure to take your notes and the notes from the police report.
You should ask the attorney what his track record is on cases like yours and determine if he will be open and honest about what he can do for you. During this time, you should ask about attorney fees and see if he is the best fit for you. Note that the more time-consuming and complex the case is, the more expensive the attorney fees will be.
Don’t underestimate the power of an attorney in your case. People without any legal experience who decide to do it all on their own usually miss opportunities and jeopardize their case.
Los Angeles DUI attorney Don Hammond has the same DUI investigation training that the police have, including Field Sobriety Test training, and he has all of the standardized training manuals for DUI and drug related police training. He works with a team of experts, including criminalists, investigators, former crime lab supervisors, and toxicologists, to determine the appropriate defense in each case. With experience in over 100 criminal defense cases, Don can spot the issues and ensure that your rights are protected.
STEP 4: GET A STAY & A HEARING
It is in your best interest to immediately call the California DMV or a reputable attorney to request a hearing because you may be able to obtain a stay on the suspension of your license pending the Admin Per Se hearing.
You only have 10 days in California to call the DMV to request a hearing. This includes weekends. Not doing so could result in losing your license. You will need to call a specific DMV office depending on where you were arrested.
Although they can generally look you up by name, date of birth and driver license number, when you call, you should to have your ticket, driver’s license number, the date and location of the arrest, the type of test you took, and the name and ID number associated with the arresting officer.
Once you have contacted the DMV Driver Safety Office or a reputable attorney to request your stay (allows you to keep driving until your hearing) and hearing (allows you to keep the DMV from suspending your license), you will need to obtain a copy of the police report.
STEP 5: REVIEW THE POLICE REPORT WITH YOUR ATTORNEY
Request a copy of the police report from the arrest. You can do this by requesting it be sent to you from the DMV 10 days before your hearing, or your attorney can make this request on your behalf. Compare your notes to the police report and be sure to scribble down anything that seems incorrect or far-reaching.
The police report will detail the arresting officer’s reasoning. This includes why you were stopped, your driving pattern, your sobriety test results, your blood or breath test results, and your physical appearance.
Comparing the report to your experience can help your attorney better understand the case and the events surrounding it.