If you face a first or second driving under the influence (DUI) arrest, it is important to understand your rights, the consequences you could face, and how a conviction could affect your life. Working with a first-time & second-time DUI lawyer could prevent a conviction or limit the penalties you face.
An experienced DUI attorney who regularly represents drunk or drugged drivers could benefit your situation. They know your defense options and how to develop a strong case. You do not have to fight these charges alone. A law firm can ensure you get a fair trial.
Every state (and the District of Columbia) has its own drunk driving laws that make it a crime to drive if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above the legal limit. This is 0.08 percent for drivers of legal drinking age nationwide. Many zero tolerance states allows the police to arrest those under 21 if they have any alcohol in their blood.
Some places also allow police to arrest you for a DUI regardless of your BAC if you are driving in a way that makes them believe you are impaired. Additional penalties could apply for extremely high BACs, such as over .15 percent or above .20 percent.
When a police officer stops you on suspicion of drunk driving, or you cause an accident, they could ask you to:
If they uncover evidence showing you were driving drunk or drugged, they could arrest you. Upon arrest, the officer should read your rights, tow your car, and take you to jail. You could undergo a hearing to set bail within a few hours.
Each state sets its own laws for penalties following a DUI conviction. In general, a first-time conviction generally leads to a short time in jail, fines, fees, and more. You could also lose your driving privileges.
How states handle restricting your driving privileges depends on the applicable statutes. However, it is often an administrative suspension. This means the agency that issues your license suspends it for a set period—often 90 days to six months for a first-time offense. This occurs regardless of the outcome of your criminal case because this penalty is administrative and not criminal. You must appeal the suspension separately. An attorney could help with any appeals or hearings.
When convicted of a DUI, even first-time offenders face significant consequences that can affect their job and daily life.
For example, under Arizona law, a first-time DUI could call for:
Many states have programs to help first-time offenders. If you agree to take classes to learn about the dangers of drunk driving, some states reduce jail time significantly.
When someone faces a second- or third-time DUI, they face significantly increased penalties. The courts treat them as habitual offenders. The consequences of their initial conviction did not work, and now, defendants must face additional penalties before this behavior continues.
Each state sets its own look-back rule. This dictates how long into your past the court will look to consider if you have a previous DUI offense. The look-back period is generally between five and ten years, although some states look back for much longer.
For example, imagine you live in a state with a look-back period of seven years. You had one DUI at age 21. You are now 31 and just got arrested for another. Because of the time that’s passed, the state would view each offense as a first-time DUI. However, if the court convicted you two years ago of a DUI, and the police just arrested you again, you will face the consequences as a second-time offender.
In every state, second, third, and subsequent DUI convictions have hefty consequences. You could face a longer, mandatory jail sentence, higher fines, and a longer driver’s license suspension. There are fewer programs to help you reduce the penalties and give you another chance. Things like alcohol awareness classes often become mandatory instead of an option for reducing jail time.
For example, in Arizona, a second DUI conviction could call for penalties that include:
The state treats third and subsequent offenses very seriously. Most states have a threshold when a habitual DUI becomes a felony charge. In Arizona, this is a class four felony aggravated DUI conviction.
This could lead to penalties including:
Many believe they do not need to hire an attorney to handle their second or third DUI case. They know the process from the first time and feel like they can handle it on their own. However, the consequences of an unsuccessful defense can transform one’s quality of life.
Working with an attorney can protect your rights and get a positive outcome in your case. You do not want to face the harshest penalties associated with these convictions.
A DUI conviction carries more than criminal penalties; it can also affect your daily life. For instance, a conviction could cost you your job. You could have problems commuting, picking up your kids from school, and maintaining your relationships. These consequences make it critical to consider your legal options.
When you partner with a DUI defense attorney, they may assert one or more of the following to seek a fair case outcome:
Before a police officer can stop any driver, the driver must violate the law. An officer can’t pull you over just because they saw you exiting a bar or need to hit a quota. Instead, they must have probable cause. If you ran a red light, failed to stop before turning right on red, or could not maintain a lane, this could lead to a legal traffic stop and your DUI arrest.
The only time you can’t assert probable cause is if you were in a crash or the police stopped you at a DUI checkpoint. In either of these cases, the police can ask for samples of your blood or breath to evaluate your condition ——whether they have probable cause or not.
The police must follow certain protocols when gathering evidence to support a DUI arrest. For instance, they must have probable cause to search your car. They must also read your Miranda rights upon your arrest. If the officer doesn’t read your Miranda rights, your lawyer could have any statements you made at the arrest scene disregarded.
Suppressing significant evidence in a case, often the BAC test results, could lead to a dismissal. The prosecution cannot move forward with a DUI case when they have no evidence to show you drove while intoxicated.
Breathalyzers are notoriously difficult. They require trained personnel to maintain, calibrate, and use. Many courts do not accept roadside Breathalyzers for this reason. They can give false readings because of misuse, poor calibration, and other issues. Some people also have pre-existing medical conditions that can trigger a false positive.
Defense attorneys familiar with Breathalyzers and how they work can often argue against submitting this type of test results in a DUI case.
Many DUI defense attorneys review the results of any blood or breath tests taken at the arrest scene. As noted, these tests aren’t always accurate. Testing at the wrong time, inaccurate testing methods, contaminated samples, or poor technique could invalidate these results.
Some police officers don’t conduct blood and breath tests to determine drunk driving. Instead, they rely on their experience and “hunches” when arresting people. Every year, this puts countless innocent people in jail, wondering what options they have.
If you didn’t take a blood or breath test at the arrest scene, there could be little to no evidence suggesting intoxication. Even if you had an empty beer can in your car, this alone would not support a DUI arrest. If there isn’t evidence to suggest drunk driving, your lawyer could move for a dismissal of the charges against you.
During all legal proceedings, you have the right to reach out to an attorney. This does not imply guilt. A lawyer can stand between you and any unfair line of questioning that affects your legal rights. They can also advise you on what you should and should not share with law enforcement.
If the police did not allow you to contact a lawyer after your arrest, this can serve as a defense against any DUI charges. It also constitutes a violation of your civil rights.
Working with an attorney protects your rights and ensures you have someone on your side advocating for your best interests. You should consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. As noted, you’re within your rights to have an attorney present when questioned by police.
Once you hire an attorney, they formulate a plan to protect your best interests and reduce the effects of a DUI conviction on your life.
Some legal services include:
Your attorney can represent your best interests and reputation every step of the way. Their goal is to reduce or eliminate the effects of your DUI arrest on your life going forward.
While dismissing your DUI charges or clearing your name at trial is the best-case scenario, other options could be a positive outcome in your case.
Your lawyer may:
Any of these could result in reduced jail time, lower fines, or no penalties at all. Your lawyer can create a defense strategy after reviewing your case’s details.
You should consider how a criminal defense attorney can help with your DUI arrest as soon as possible following your arrest. This is true whether your arrest stemmed from a traffic stop or collision.
The sooner you hire a defense team, the sooner you can have someone advocating for you. This is key in protecting your rights during the criminal justice process.
Many DUI defense firms offer case evaluations where you can get answers to some of your most pressing questions. You can learn about the benefits of getting legal help and what you can expect next.
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