How to Handle a DUI Charge

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If you have had alcohol to drink and get behind the wheel of a car, you are taking a big risk. You may not realize just how impaired you really are but you can bet that police officers will. The fact is that a DUI, also known as driving while under the influence, is a criminal charge and not a traffic violation, so in the event you are charged with this offense, you need to know how to properly handle the situation.

What Happens When You Get Pulled Over

If you see lights and hear sirens behind you, it is best to pull right over. Your first thought might be to panic and try to keep going but this is the wrong move. You don’t need any additional charges on top of DUI. You may be scared, but remember first and foremost that you have the right to remain silent. If you are in fact, inebriated, the best thing to do is to invoke this right. Even if you don’t believe you are drunk but you have had at least a drink, remain silent. Speaking will incriminate you.

The first question that cops will ask you is if you have been drinking. If you have had something to drink, do not answer their question. For one, this could be considered an admission of guilt which could be enough to warrant probable cause to arrest you. Police officers may ask you to take a field sobriety test which you do not have to comply with. You are not required to take a Preliminary Breath Test.

These tests are often very unreliable and even sober people can fail them. If the officer smells alcohol on your breath or has any other reason to believe you are intoxicated, it may be enough to arrest you. Once in custody, they will have you either take a breathalyzer test or a blood test which will measure your blood alcohol level. You are required by law to take one of these tests. To refuse will result in possible charges.

If this test shows that you have consumed more than the legal limit of alcohol allowed for driving, you will be convicted of drunk driving; however, it could take weeks or even months before you are officially charged. Usually after holding you for a few hours you will be released from jail.

After release, you should contact a DUI defense attorney. At this point, you won’t know if you are facing jail time or will lose your license but you will be scared and looking for an attorney to help you with this situation.

Hire an Attorney to Represent You in Court

Your best legal choice is to hire a DUI attorney. Barna, Guzy & Steffen, LTD. can provide you with an experienced attorney who can represent you in the criminal law court on these criminal charges.

Your first court appearance is called an arraignment and this is where you plead either guilty or not guilty to the charges. If the case is not settled during this appearance, a preliminary hearing and trial could be scheduled.

If you caused an accident while intoxicated, you could also become involved in lawsuits which could produce additional charges.

Penalties and Fees That Can Be Imposed

You may receive a notice from The Department of Motor Vehicles that your license has been revoked for a determined amount of time. Reinstating your license typically involves paying a fine, taking a written test and completing additional requirements.

As a result of the DUI charge, the judge can sentence you with the following:

  • Incarceration
  • Rehabilitation treatment
  • Probation
  • Fines or fees
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Work Release Programs
  • Community Service

With all these possibilities, you don’t want to chance being misrepresented or unrepresented. Barna, Guzy & Steffen, LTD. have decades of experience defending those charged with drunk driving charges and have successfully reduced sentences, fines and penalties for many of their clients.

Call us today to represent you so we can give you a fighting chance.

About Jon P. Erickson

Jon Erickson is Of-Counsel at BGS and the Practice Group Leader for Consumer law (PI, Family, Wills/Estate Planning and Criminal Defense). Jon has been the recipient of honors and awards as a criminal defense specialist; including the highest rating given by a national publication, a “Super Lawyer” designation. In January 2012, Jon was named a Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. This certified specialist designation is earned by less than 3% of all Minnesota licensed attorneys.

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