It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of alcohol to drive. If you have been arrested and found the police found 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in your blood, then you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). If your driving was impaired by other types of substances, including prescription pills, then you can also be arrested for DUI. You will either be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether any property was damaged or people were hurt. Additionally, if you have any prior DUIs, then those will affect how you’re charged and what consequences you will have to face.
There is a process that your case will follow after you have been arrested. First, you will be arrested and brought to the police station for booking. During that phase, you will be fingerprinted and your mugshot will be taken. You will be detained until your arraignment. If you already have an attorney, this is the time to call them. You want them to be present at that first hearing, which is when the prosecution will decide whether or not they have enough evidence to convict. You will also have an opportunity to give your plea. All of this your attorney will guide you through. If you don’t have an attorney, then at your arraignment you will be asked if you have an attorney or want a court-appointed attorney to represent you at your next hearing.
When you decide to plead “not guilty” it gives you and your attorney some time to develop a defense strategy for your hearing. This can include gathering evidence, documents and expert witnesses willing to testify on your behalf. This is a risky move to take, and it may not be the best choice for you.
The risk of pleading “not guilty” is going through the trial process, being found guilty, and having wasted time and money, on top of facing the consequences of the DUI. So you and your attorney may decide to plead guilty or no contest. Upon pleading guilty to a DUI charge, you must sign a document indicating that you understand you are giving up some constitution rights, which include:
● The right to a jury trial
● The right to remain silent
● The right to cross-examine the witnesses who testify against you
This document will also list the exact terms of your plea agreement, which include all consequences of your DUI (fines and fees, jail time, whether or not an ignition interlock device must be installed if you are eligible for probation and when, etc.)
Next, the court clerk will file your conviction, which will go on your criminal record. It will be filed either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.
You will immediately begin serving your sentence. The consequences will be based on what you were convicted of and if you have any prior DUIs.
Even if you will plead guilty, you still want an expert on DUI law representing you and making sure that you know all of your choices and rights during your hearing. You will want to hire an attorney right away so you have an opportunity to discuss how you will plead.