Charged With DUI: What’s Next?

Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) brings with it the need to make some decisions. If you were drinking and driving, an evaluation of your personal habits is probably in order. There are several other pressing matters to consider, however. Read on to find out what might happen after you've been arrested and charged with a DUI.

Accept a Plea Bargain

You can expect to avoid a trial altogether and be offered a deal in some cases. If you are a first-time DUI offender and the DUI was simple (no accident, no children in the car, no fleeing, etc.), you will probably be offered a plea bargain. In many cases, the plea deal involves a lighter sentence and/or a lesser charge than DUI. It will still be on your record, however, and you must understand the implications, particularly if you believe the state has a weak case against you. The benefits of a plea bargain are that the matter is instantly resolved since you plead guilty and are immediately sentenced. This is a serious matter because you are effectively pleading "guilty" and giving up your right to a trial by your peers. Be sure to discuss the matter with your criminal defense attorney before you sign anything.

Take It to Court

You are under no obligation to accept any plea bargain offered, and you are entitled to a trial by jury. If you intend to plead "not guilty," you and your attorney will be prepared to show that one or more aspects of the stop, field sobriety testing, and arrest were improper and illegal. In most cases, the main piece of evidence against you will be the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results. A finding of more than .08% is considered legally drunk in all states. That finding trumps all other testing, such as your performance on field sobriety tests. In other words, even if you were not too intoxicated to drive or if the officer did not believe you to be too intoxicated to drive, you can still be convicted of DUI based on the BAC.

You can also be convicted if you are borderline over the limit but fail any field sobriety tests. If that is the case, you have an opportunity to challenge the results of other aspects of the stop. That includes questioning the legality of:

  • The probable cause for the initial stop.
  • The performance on any field sobriety test.
  • The legality of the arrest (for example, were you questioned without being read your Miranda rights?).

Speak to a criminal defense lawyer to learn more.