You should never take a DUI arrest lightly. Even a conviction on a misdemeanor DUI charge can result in you having to pay steep fines and spend time in jail.
What’s more, after you have been convicted on a first DUI charge, a second arrest might be charged as a felony and subject to a mandatory minimum prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines.
Furthermore, if convicted of a felony DUI, you may lose your driver’s license, your right to vote, your ability to join the military and other civil rights. You will also be prohibited from working in certain industries and have trouble finding employment and housing.
Therefore, it is important that you fight to keep even a first DUI conviction off of your record. An experienced DUI attorney can assess the circumstances of your arrest to try and find violations in protocol that may give rise to the dismissal of the charges against you.
Ways to Handle a DUI Charge
There are essentially two general ways to handle a DUI charge:
- Pay an attorney to fight the charge and keep your record clean.
- Plead guilty, pay the fine, and have a DUI go on your record.
Just because you are charged with a DUI doesn’t mean that you will be convicted. Depending on your record and the circumstance of your arrest, an experienced attorney can help you successfully defend a DUI charge and ensure that your record remains clean, or at least, minimize the consequence of your conviction.
However, if you plead guilty, you are likely to receive even stiffer penalties, even for a first offense. Furthermore, you will have a DUI conviction on your record, which will put you at risk of receiving much harsher penalties should you unfortunately be charged with a subsequent DUI within a certain period of time.
Defending a DUI
It’s important to remember that if you do not plead guilty to the charge, the state must prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. If it is unable to prove any element required for a DUI conviction, you will be found not guilty.
The two most common ways to defend a DUI are:
- To challenge the arresting officer’s right to stop you; and
- To dispute the validity of the Breathalyzer or field sobriety test that was administered to you after you were stopped.
If the arresting officer violated any protocols in making the traffic stop or when carrying out the Breathalyzer or field sobriety test, the charge against you may be dismissed.
For example, if the arresting officer did not see you committing any traffic violation, the officer may not have had sufficient reason to stop you. Your attorney may then petition the court to dismiss the case for violation of your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Similarly, if the arresting officer forgot to carry out the Breathalyzer or the field sobriety test, or did not carry them out according to standard procedure, the results may be deemed inadmissible and your case may be dismissed.
At any rate, only an experienced DUI attorney will have the ability to notice these violations and employ them in your defense. Therefore, before you choose how you will handle a DUI charge, you should first speak with an experienced DUI attorney who can assess your case and help you decide which course of action to pursue to achieve the best outcome for your case.