How to Handle DUI Charges

How to Handle DUI Charges

A DUI can be a pretty serious stain on your record if you do not take the right steps to manage it, and many people have gotten far worse consequences after being arrested for driving under the influence purely because they had no idea what they were doing. If you think you will end up in that state – whether you were arrested correctly or not – it helps to be prepared.

The Plea

Most DUIs across most states can be split into driving under the influence or having a blood-alcohol content above the legally enforced limit. Either way, you will end up with a form of DUI charge, and you will usually have to attend a hearing where your charge is formally presented.

The first step here is pleading either guilty or not guilty. You can change your plea later when it becomes relevant again, but it is important to hire a lawyer (or meet with a state-appointed lawyer) before you come to a decision.

  • Pleading guilty can result in smaller sentences but more or less acts as confirmation that you are willing to go through a punishment for your DUI charge.
  • Plea bargaining is a more direct way of aiming for a reduced sentence, although some states prohibit this kind of benefit to guilty pleas.
  • You can request either a jury trial or a trial before a judge, usually depending on how serious the charge is or how much you want to try and fight for your innocence. Confer with your lawyer before you decide which one to choose.

The third option here is the main one to focus on because most people don’t want to plea bargain or plead guilty. In this case, you are fighting the DUI charge – something that can be an uphill battle even for people who are prepared.

Fighting the Charge

It is important to understand that both types of DUI charges matter here. Fighting your charge and still having a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08% can be enough to get you convicted, but the chance of a conviction increases with your blood alcohol level, even if you manage to successfully fight off other elements of the charge.

If you are sure that you will be convicted either way due to things like collateral damage and negligent injuries that you caused, then a plea bargain is sometimes a good alternative. Sometimes, a plea can result in no jail or prison time and only a fine.

If your blood alcohol level is below – or sometimes almost below – the legal limit, though, you can easily start to push back. But how?

Know The State’s DUI Laws

Not all states have the same DUI conditions and penalties, and some of them are more lenient than others. Depending on the state, whether you go to a judge or jury case can also have differences in the legal situation you are involved in.

Most of the time, DUI penalties can include fines from between $500 to $2,000, one year of jail time/prison time, license suspension, community service/probation, various vehicle-related restrictions, house arrest, and even inclusion into drug prevention and testing programs. 

Not all of these apply at once. Many of them only occur during extreme cases, like ones where an accidental death occurred, or your blood alcohol content is twice the limit. The more severe your situation, the more likely you are to get worse punishments if you are convicted.

Understand DUI Lawyers

DUI lawyers act like a criminal lawyer in situations like this, working as your attorney to try to prove that you were not in violation of the DUI. There are also situations where you were violating the DUI laws but are able to get off with only a fine (or sometimes even no punishment at all) if the case is proven to be minor and free of risk to others.

Always talk with your attorney before you do anything relating to your DUI, especially in severe cases. While a DUI is not necessarily a major black mark on your record, being convicted of one can still cause problems in later life, and you need to know how you and your lawyer can fight it.

You also need to understand that getting arrested does not instantly place guilt on you. If you can fight the DUI and get away without being convicted, then the results are usually much better, especially if you can have the case thrown out or dismissed without receiving any penalty.

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