Steps to take after getting a DUI
If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, there are a couple important steps to take immediately and later on down the road to most effectively deal with the consequences.
Let's break it down step by step.
Step 1 - Get in contact with a board certifed DUI lawyer near you
Especially in cases of felony DUI, defendants should immediately acquire the assistance of experienced DUI attorneys to help guide them as they go to court and face a judge or jury. Even first-offenders can benefit substantially from hiring a lawyer, considering they are facing a number of potential penalties. The severity of your punishment may depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense, which is why lawyers are helpful for building a case that highlights mitigating factors. Make sure to hire an attorney who is experienced in DUI law, which is incredibly complex, rather than going to a general attorney.
Step 2 - Get in contact with a bail bondsman
In some cases, you will need the assistance of a bail bondsman who will post bail for you in exchange for a fee. You may also be released on your “own recognizance,” which means you make a written promise to attend any future court appearances but no bond is posted and you do not pay bail money to the court.
Step 3 - Request a hearing with the DMV
Next, you should request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of your DUI arrest. Without requesting a DMV hearing, your license automatically will be suspended.
Step 4 - Prepare for you DUI case
Finally, you (along with your counsel) will prepare for arraignment, which often is your first court appearance and the time during which you enter your plea. In some places, your attorney can handle the arraignment themselves, which means you do not have to make an appearance.
Generally, a first-offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor and can be penalized by several days to six months in jail—although jail time is typically not mandatory for a first offense. Other common penalties for DUI convictions include fines ranging from $500 to a couple thousand dollars and license suspension (typically about three months on a first offense) or revocation. In the case of first-offenders, some states may impose alternative forms of punishment, such as mandated completion of a DUI school or education and prevention program.
On third or fourth convictions, or if a person was injured or killed as a result of the DUI, you could be looking at several years in jail and/or a much longer license suspension.
Additional DUI information
What is the DUI Timeline?
Here is a great visual of the DUI timeline of the process, both civil and criminal.
What is Considered a DUI?
If you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of a substance (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI)—terms that commonly are used interchangeably. For anyone younger than 21, however, any detectable amount of alcohol in the system while driving can result in a DUI charge, in addition to other charges since underage drinking is against the law.
What are the Consequences of a DUI?
The consequences for a DUI conviction can vary depending on a variety of factors, including past driving infractions; past DUI convictions; the seriousness of the offense; aggravating circumstances; and, most particularly, the state where the DUI occurred, as state law varies. Penalties may be more severe if your BAC was particularly high (.15 percent or more) at the time of arrest.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?
The length of time your DUI charge will remain on your driving record varies greatly by state. In certain states, such as Tennessee, the offense can be on a person’s record for the remainder of their lifetime. Other states, such as California, can remove the offense from your record after 10 years.
Unless you seek a DUI expungement—or having the offense entirely removed from your driving history by a judge or other state official—it will remain on your record indefinitely. If you are hoping for expungement, talk to your DUI attorneys and be careful to follow the requirements of probation and successfully complete your probation term.
Some states have what are called washout periods that generally last five to 15 years. If you receive another DUI conviction after the washout period, it will be prosecuted as a first offense—although the DUI still may show up on your criminal record.
How Do You Deal With Insurance after a DUI?
Unfortunately, if you have received a DUI or DWI conviction, you will face consequences beyond those issued by the court. One of the most detrimental is the impact to your insurance. Because you are now considered a high-risk driver, the insurance company may drop your policy altogether, or at the very least, will drastically increase your premium rates while the drunk driving charge remains on your record.
You can still find affordable insurance after a DUI, especially if you are a first-offender, but you will have to shop around to different insurance companies. Be up front about your DUI conviction so you can find the best DUI insurance available.
Individuals who are convicted of a DUI may also be required by the DMV to file an SR-22, or a certificate of financial responsibility, which is more complicated than the proof of insurance generally required of all drivers. You must inform your insurance provider about the SR-22 proof of insurance, since the form must be filed directly by them to the DMV.
If you or a dependent have received a DUI, taking the proper course of action afterward can help you mitigate the consequences by receiving adequate legal counsel and also recover more quickly from the offense over time.
Also in an auto accident? Check out this car accident step by step guide checklist infographic.