This guide is a roadmap to beginning to repair the damage from a brand new DUI. It assumes that this is your first offense, and that you are released from jail the day after your arrest.
Man the sun is bright!
You need to hit the ground running, as soon as you walk out of the jail after being arrested for DUI. You may or may not be hungover from the night before, but chances are you didn't get much sleep last night. Before going home for some much needed rest, you need to recover your vehicle. Most often the arresting officer had your vehicle impounded and every day it stays on the impound lot is another days worth of impound fees. If you were not provided with the location of your vehicle upon release from jail, call the law enforcement agency that arrested you and they should fill you in. Be prepared to pay the towing costs as well as a days worth of impound fees to get your car back. "But Jake, I got a DUI, the cops took my license and I can't drive my car off the impound lot!" In most cases the officer who arrests you for DUI will confiscate your driver license. However, if you review the DUI citation that he or she issued to you, there is a line at the bottom that says the following, "Unless Ineligible, this citation shall serve as a temporary driver license and will expire at midnight on the 10th day following the date of suspension." This means that you can drive for the first 10 days after your arrest (day one being the actual day of arrest) as long as you carry the DUI citation in the car with you. So go pick up your car and drive home for some much needed rest. Note: I strongly suggest immediately hiring an attorney, but if you don't already have someone in mind, spend some time researching attorneys in your area and finding someone you are comfortable with.
You look like you need some Help
Within the first couple days of your arrest, you should try to find an attorney who you are comfortable with to help you through the DUI litigation process. Many firms will assist you with DMV representation as a part of their service (ours does of course). Assuming this is your first DUI you may get conflicting advice on how to handle the DMV process to get your license back. Some people will tell you to fight the suspense through a formal review hearing, others will suggest accepting the suspension and getting a business purpose only (hardship) license right away. It's impossible to tell you which route is better for your case, without knowing the details. The best advice I can give you is this: you probably don't carve open a cow to find the best steak; you don't use a mirror and a scalpel to take our your own appendix; and you shouldn't make a decision on how to deal with the DMV without talking to a lawyer first. Every case is different, and the best choice for you may be different than the best choice for someone else you know in a similar case. No matter what you choose to do with the DMV, you have 10 days to decide. So get a lawyer on your case in the first week. If you don't, the decision of what happens to your driver license will be made for you by the DHSMV.
Let's get this over with
You may be able to beat your case. Without knowing the facts, I can't tell you one way or another. But no matter what happens in the criminal case, if your license is suspended after getting arrested for a DUI, you are going to have to complete DUI school to qualify for a hardship license. DUI school is expensive even on the first go around (as of the date of this writing it costs $283.00 in my area). It also lasts 12 hours spread out over two days. If you want to be able to drive while you're going through the DUI case, you need to rip the bandage off and register for DUI School right away. It often takes weeks before they can get you in. You will have to complete all parts of the DUI school, including the substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment if you want to keep your license. Don't get scammed. Do DUI School in person, and verify that the provider you are using is accepted by the probation department in your area. There's nothing worse than telling a client that they've wasted hundreds of dollars by attending "online" DUI school that isn't accepted by the DMV or probation. You can also start getting other likely conditions done before your case is resolved if you believe that you will ultimately be found (or plea) guilty. The following is a list of conditions you can do before you plea if you want to give your attorney some help in limiting the amount of time you spend on probation. - 10 day vehicle immobilization. You can pay a small fee to have your vehicle booted for 10 days. This will satisfy the statutory requirement that you endure a 10 day vehicle impound while on DUI probation. - 50 hours of community service: Some Judges will allow people to pay for some or all of the community service hours required by statute. If your judge isn't one of those, or if you would rather spend some time giving back to the community, get a list of acceptable Community Service providers from your local misdemeanor probation office. You can do the hours before your case resolves as long as the facility keeps a record of your hours and will verify them later. - Victim Impact Panel: often a condition of probation. This short class provided by MADD is cheap and can be done before the plea. Note: I advise my clients to do this only when there is a traffic crash involved.
Are we done yet?
Long story short, DUI cases a long and full of case-specific actions that should be handled by a legal professional. Hiring an attorney in a DUI case is crucial to protect you from a system that is set up against you every step of the way. But following the steps above will make this process a little less painful, and may help you get off probation sooner than you otherwise would've.
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