So you just got home after a sleepless night in the drunk tank after a DUI arrest.
Your wrists are slightly bruised from the handcuffs you found yourself in last night. Your neck and back are sore from trying to sleep on a floor or a bench. You’re probably dehydrated and a little hungover. You just want to go to bed and forget that all of this ever happened.
However, there are a few things you need to do ASAP after a DUI arrest. These things will ensure the rest of your case will go as smooth as possible. You may even be able to get back on the road until your trial date.
The first thing to do after your DUI arrest: review all the paperwork you brought home with you from lockup.
In particular, note the following items:
Court summons – this has your arrest information, arraignment date, and your trial date. In some states, this is one document, in others, two. Find out exactly when you are due in court and add it to your calendar immediately. If you miss your arraignment or do not have a lawyer file paperwork in time, you will be charged with Failure to Appear (FTA) and a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. And of course, you do not want to miss any trial date.
Administrative, per se or DMV penalties – this tells you the current status of your driving privileges with the DMV. Most states impose immediate administrative DMV penalties for an arrest in which the drive fails or refuses a breath or blood test. In many states, the police officer confiscates your driver’s license, and you are administratively suspended from driving for an amount of time indicated on this paperwork. Other states allow you to drive, or set conditions on your driving and will force you to appear at a DMV administrative hearing within a set amount of time. They may also set procedures to waive the hearing and undergo some sort of penalty to get back on the road.
It is imperative that you go through this paperwork to find out your status, and what you need to do with the DMV.
The second thing to do after your DUI arrest: start calling lawyers for a free consultation.
Search for lawyers who specialize in DUI cases, and are located within the jurisdiction of your arrest. Unfortunately, this is a major decision which must be made quickly due to your looming arraignment date. However, each consultation should take no more than 30 minutes, and you need to be able to choose the lawyer with whom you are most comfortable.
AVVO is an excellent resource for locating DUI lawyers in your area, with reviews.
Once you select a lawyer, you will have to sign a contract and pay their fee. Most lawyers will allow a payment plan. Then, your lawyer will get to work on your case. In many states, your lawyer will file paperwork before your arraignment which waives your appearance. However, your lawyer will tell you exactly what to do and when to show up.
Your lawyer will also help you with your DMV case, if applicable. All states are different when it comes to DMV administrative penalties, and you should consult your state’s DMV website to find out what penalties you face.
Do these two things and you can make your case go as smooth as possible, and if needed, get back on the road in the meantime.