Facing a DUI can be a frightening time in a person’s life. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of DUI law or don’t know what to expect in court, the process can be even more intimidating. Below are several things you should be aware of if you are facing a DUI.
DUI Laws Vary from State to State
Those accused of drunk driving face serious consequences throughout the country—steep fines, jail time, loss of driver’s license and a criminal record are just a few of the penalties those convicted of drunk driving may face. While first-time offenders often face serious consequence such as these, with each offense the penalty for a DUI only gets tougher. An experienced DUI attorney should be able to tell you exactly what you’re up against and provide you with the solid legal defense you need.
Field Sobriety Tests often Yield Inaccurate Results
Field sobriety tests are a series of tests designed to determine intoxication. In most states, these tests are voluntary and you may not be punished for refusing to take one; however, make sure that you are aware of the driving laws in the state that you are traveling in, as failing to take a field sobriety test where they are mandatory may make your situation even worse. Field sobriety tests have been proven to yield inaccurate results as many sober people are unable to pass these tests. Also, tests may be inaccurately administered. An experienced attorney should have the knowledge to fight field sobriety tests in court.
Blood Alcohol Screening Tests are Generally not Optional
While field sobriety tests are usually voluntary, blood alcohol screening tests are not. There are various ways to test for blood alcohol levels (BACs): breath tests, blood tests and urine tests. Blood tests tend to be the most accurate of the three BAC tests. It is important to be aware that BAC tests can yield inaccurate results if they are not properly administered, calibrated or maintained. An experienced attorney should thoroughly understand how BAC tests work and be able to determine if your test was administered correctly or not.
An Officer Must Have Probable Cause to Arrest You for DUI
An officer cannot arrest you for DUI without probable cause. Erratic driving is generally not probable cause, which is why officers rely on BAC tests and field sobriety tests. Failing either of these tests is generally considered probably cause, at which point, you may be arrested for DUI.
You May Need to File for a Separate DMV Hearing to Protect Your Driving Privileges
In some states, driver’s license suspension is mandatory for a first offense. This mandatory suspension may be avoided in some states if a petition is filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles within a limited time period (often as short as 10 days after your arrest). Your attorney should be familiar with these laws and be able to represent you at a DMV hearing and at trial if necessary.
An Attorney can Help Protect Your Rights and Fight for Your Driving Privileges
If you are facing a DUI, it is imperative that you contact a DUI attorney in your state as soon as possible. A DUI attorney should be able to inform you of your rights, make sure your rights are protected and fight for your best interests. Don’t mistake a DUI for a minor traffic violation. It is not. It is a serious crime with serious punishments for those who are convicted including mandatory jail time.