If the blood or breath test shows that you are over the blood alcohol limit for your state you will be arrested and taken to the police station for booking on the crime of DUI. You will be processed into the criminal justice system by having your picture taken (your “mug shot”), having your finger prints taken and you will then be placed in a holding cell in the jail until you are able to post bail or someone posts your bail for you. A licensed bail bondsman can post bail for you for a fee. Your driver’s license may also be temporarily suspended.
If on the other hand you refused to take the blood or breath test, you will usually have to surrender your driver’s license immediately and you will be taken to the police station for booking anyway. You will be held until you or someone else bails you out of jail. There may be additional fines or fees for refusing the test.
There is also the matter of the car you were driving when you got stopped. Since you were taken to jail, your car will towed and impounded by the police. This will require that you pay the towing company the fee for towing the car and also the impound fee (based on the number of days the car was in the impound lot) before you can recover your car. If you were driving someone else’s car, they will have to pay the towing and impound fees to get their car back even though they were not driving drunk.
There will usually be two different legal proceedings coming out of a DUI arrest. First there will be the administrative proceeding with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regarding your driver’s license suspension. Some states schedule these hearings very quickly within 5 to 10 days. Other states it takes longer to get a hearing.
In these proceedings they are determining if your license should continue to be suspended or revoked and if so for how long (unless you refused to take the test and then the suspension is automatic and usually for at least a year). There is also the possibility of getting a limited use license for you to get to work, etc. The criminal court also has the right to deal with suspending your driver’s license. Because every situation is different you should talk to your DUI attorney about what you might expect to happen in these hearings.
The second legal proceeding will be your criminal case in a county or district court. Although most states still categorize a first DUI as a misdemeanor it is still a very serious matter because of the many consequences that go along with a DUI that do not go along with other misdemeanors. There are many mandatory sentences and punishments for DUI that are not attached to other misdemeanors.
If you already have one or more DUI’s in your past many states now treat additional DUI’s as a felony which can send you to jail for an extended period of time. Some states have laws that your second or third DUI is a felony and some say you’re fourth. Some states have the option to treat a DUI as a felony if there was an accident that caused serious bodily injury or if there is a child in the vehicle while you were driving intoxicated. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony are obviously the amount of jail time that can be given. Jail time from a misdemeanor is usually served in a county jail but a felony conviction is usually sent to a state prison.
As with all criminal matters, you will have the right to trial by jury. This means that the prosecuting attorney will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime of DUI and the jury will have to find that you are guilty. The judge will then sentence you for the crime convicted. There are a lot of variables involved in every phase of this criminal proceeding. Your DUI attorney will help you navigate all of these variables and help you decide if you should go to trial or try to get some kind of plea agreement.
Many states now have mandatory sentencing guidelines in DUI cases. This means that the judge may not have much discretion in sentencing you after the jury verdict or after a plea agreement. Also, the “per se” laws make it a little easier for the prosecuting attorney to get a conviction if they can prove your blood alcohol level from the breath or blood test. That is why those tests are so important to a DUI defense lawyer. Your DUI defense lawyer can try to attack the validity of the test, how it was administered, the reliability of the testing method or testing device, etc. Your lawyer can do discovery about your charges, offer defense expert evidence about your charges, seek to discredit the test for lack of proper calibration of the testing equipment, testing protocols and training and other defense tactics.
Finally, if you have one or more prior DUI convictions, that will also affect your sentencing. Depending on how many prior DUI’s you have and how long it has been since the last one, the punishments will become progressively more severe. Some states have instituted felony charges after so many DUI’s and some have mandatory jail time.
If you’re found guilty or enter into a plea agreement, most courts in most states will:
• impose fines (and some add on an additional driver responsibility tax)
• suspend or revoke your license (Motor Vehicle Departments may do so even if a court does not)
• require participation in a drunk driver education program
• add points to your license (and your insurance will most likely increase)
• sentence you to jail or require community service work as an alternative
• put you on parole (called “probation” in some states)
• impose various statutory fees intended to offset the state’s budget expenses on DUI/DWAI cases
If you are required to take an alcohol treatment program you must pay the costs of that program yourself. If you do not complete the program in the time required your probation can be revoked and you can be sent to jail. Some courts also require an ignition interlock system to be installed in your car which prevents the car from starting unless you breathe into a tester and your blood alcohol is below a certain level. You will be required to pay for that expense also which can be as much as $200 a month. The costs and fees and fines associated with a DUI can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. The court may also require that you do not drink any alcohol during your probation and can require periodic tests. Failure to comply with any of these requirements can result in a revocation of your bond, revocation of your probation and you’re being sent to jail.
As you can see, a DUI is a very serious criminal charge. There are many different variables in each DUI case. Each state’s laws are a little different. Even though there are sentencing guidelines that a court must follow, an attorney can help you to get the best possible outcome on your penalties. It is very important that you get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer to help you through this process. If we can help you with a free initial consultation, please give us a call at (720) 457-4959. www.familylawattorneyindenver.com