You’ve just been arrested for DUI. The police hold you for a few hours then you’re granted bond and walk out of the county jail. Now what?
You should call an attorney immediately. There are certain rights that are implicated on some DUI arrests that you’ll need to address ASAP. The main ones relate to your right to drive and an Administrative License Suspension (ALS), and others involve collecting and preserving evidence that may be useful to your defense that only an experienced attorney will be able to identify and help collect. That’s not the point of this article. The point of this article is to give you some generally “good ideas” that will make the defense of your case much easier.
Drug and Alcohol evaluation. Use a web-search or other resource to find a qualified clinical evaluator and arrange your assessment. This is usually about $125 and may take a few hours of sitting with the therapist and discussing your history of drug and alcohol use. Make sure that they know that you had a recent DUI arrest. After the evaluation the evaluator may recommend a treatment program which you should start as soon as you can.
40 hours of community service for a 501(c)(3) organization. Community service is required by law for any DUI conviction. 40 hours is the minimum required for a first DUI conviction. Find an organization that you like and make sure they’re a 501(c)(3) (it’s a special tax code for charitable nonprofit organizations), then plan to knock out a couple of weekends with them.
MADDVictim Impact Panel. [https://www.maddvip.org/listings/?search_location=Cartersville%2C+GA%2C+USA&search_radius=50&search_lat=0&search_lng=0&search_region=].Generally prosecutors and judges make this few-hour class a requirement of any DUI sentence. This is the class where the leaders show videos and pictures of gruesome accidents, officers describe scraping brains and skin off the highway, and parents tell you the story about how their children were killed by drunk drivers. It’s a very cathartic experience.
DUI-School (Risk Reduction Course). This is required by statute for a DUI conviction and is usually a weekend course that costs about $350. I suggest this last because some of the benefits only really attach if you’re convicted.
I recommend doing these in this order. The evaluation and treatment is important because it shows that you are pro-active in identifying and dealing with any underlying issues that may have led to your arrest. The community service shows that you take this matter seriously and are wanting to make recompense for any wrong that you might have done to get you arrested. The other two are less important for negotiations.
The main goal is to get the charges reduced to “not-a-DUI”. Prosecutors are more inclined to do this if the defense attorney gives the prosecutors good reasons to reduce the charge – being pro-active and getting professional opinions and help shows responsibility and gives your attorney something to show on your behalf. A second benefit is that, if you are convicted of anything – DUI or not – then you will likely be required to do these things. Doing them ahead of time will keep you from having to do them on probation and will give your probation officer less reasons to try to violate you and throw you in jail.
The vast majority of cases don’t go to trial. Most cases are resolved by some plea agreement where the state and defense “meet in the middle” where everyone can agree. Doing these simple things helps grease the wheels and helps your attorney negotiate for the best deal possible.
That being said, you need an attorney who is willing and ready to fight your case through trial in order to get the best deal. At Perrotta, Lamb, and Johnson we prepare every case for trial from the very first day we get in it. Often times an aggressive and prepared defense causes the state to back down on some or all of the charges. Sometimes the state’s attorneys won’t, even when the defense has a good case. When that happens you’ll want a team of experienced and ready litigators in your corner ready to defend you, your case, and your freedom at trial.