How did you spend your Labor Day? This holiday signals the end of summer with an opportunity to relax and enjoy a long weekend, and for many people that means kicking back with friends and enjoying a few drinks. As with many other holidays, alcohol consumption leads to drunk drivers on the roads, and once again law enforcement has stepped up their efforts to curtail this issue. Over the three day weekend, numerous people were arrested for drunk driving through various enforcement efforts, including being spotted by patrolling officers or being discovered through a sobriety checkpoint.
Are you one of these individuals who has been arrested? If so, you may be confused as to what to expect. Is your life going to change forever? Are you going to jail? Will you lose your driver’s license? These are just a few of the questions we frequently receive. On this blog, a Sonoma County DUI answers some of your most pressing questions and discusses what you can expect in the coming days as a result of your DUI arrest.
Steps to Take
If you have never been arrested or found yourself coming face to face with the justice system before, you could be feeling intimidated, nervous, and confused. It’s also not unusual for law enforcement to add to your stress by making you feel as though you should simply plead guilty and accept your consequences. However, you don’t have to panic; knowing what lies ahead in the coming days can help you better-prepare for your case and obtain the best possible result.
- After your booking, you will have 10 days to request an administrative hearing. You’ll absolutely want to do this, as failing to do so means you automatically submit yourself to a driver’s license suspension. Your hearing is different from your criminal trial, and if you want to maintain your driving privileges in their full capacity, you’ll need to be successful in both. You can request a hearing by going in-person to your local DMV office.
- Do not talk about your arrest publically. Venting on social media may be a way you are typically accustomed to letting off steam, but remember communities like Facebook and Twitter are public forums and anything you say can still be used against you in court. This includes having your words twisted or taken out of context.
- Don’t drive on a suspended license. A driver’s license suspension is an administrative penalty for a DUI arrest. However, if you drive on a suspended license, you could face criminal consequences in addition to those you might receive for your DUI charges. If your license is suspended, follow the terms of your suspension and don’t break them or else you could put yourself in even more trouble.
- Contact an attorney. If you have never had to face criminal charges before, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to obtain representation. In short: it’s absolutely worth it. Having an experienced attorney represent you gives you the strongest possible chance of a successful outcome. If you have faced criminal accusations, including prior DUI charges, the need for a lawyer is even greater as you will likely face heavier penalties due to your previous record.
You probably have a number of questions, and some of them are more common than you might think. Here are the answers to just a few of these questions to help you better understand your situation.
Am I going to jail?
There’s no straightforward answer to this, since it largely depends on the circumstances of your case. If this is your first offense, you didn’t resist arrest, and you were just slightly over the legal limit, then you may not need to spend time in jail, particularly if you can have your charges reduced or even dismissed. However, if you were well over the legal limit or your DUI cause you to injure someone, you’re almost certainly going to spend at least some time behind bars if you’re found guilty.
Will I lose my license?
As stated previously, license suspension is a pretty common part of a DUI conviction, meaning you should do everything you can to fight back if you are arrested. There are two ways your license can be suspended: an administrative penalty and a criminal penalty. If you lose your hearing with the DMV, your license will be suspended. If you refuse to take a blood or breath test after being arrested, your license will automatically be suspended for one year, without exception. However, these suspensions are all temporary, and actually you won’t lose your driver’s license permanently. If you receive a 4th DUI offense in less than 10 years, or your DUI causes someone’s death.
How will I get to work?
Your license might be suspended, but you may still be able to drive. If your license is suspended, you may be able to apply for a restricted license, which essentially allows you to drive to and from work, court-ordered alcohol classes, and in emergency situations (such as going to the hospital). You may be required to install an ignition interlock device in order to obtain a restricted license as well. Talk to an attorney about this option to learn more.
What penalties could I be given?
We’ve already discussed jail time and license suspension at length, but these are just a few of the possible penalties you could be given. Fines are one of the most common DUI penalties, which can become expensive when you add in things like court fees, administrative fees, and more. You could also be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in your car (which you’ll have to pay for), and the courts also tend to have those convicted attend and complete a drug or alcohol education class. You could also be required to complete a certain number of hours of community service.
If you were arrested this Labor Day weekend, there is a lot at stake! Call the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. today at 707-418-5352 and schedule a free consultation.