April 5th, 2016 by Attorney Dan Carman
There’s never a good time to see police cruiser lights in your rearview mirror. When a traffic stop results in an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI), the situation goes from being a minor inconvenience to a majorly serious life event. In the year 2013, almost 22,000 DUI arrests were made in Kentucky alone. A sentence upon conviction for even the first offense carries jail time, community service and a fine. Help yourself as soon as possible by following a few tips – and remember that a police officer starts making observations about you and your behavior as soon as he or she decides to pull you over. Everything from whether you slow down too abruptly to whether you pull over in an unsafe spot to whether you are hostile will be noted in the police report and can be made to sound quite incriminating.
What Can You Do to Help Your Case?
1. Write down everything about your DUI stop.
Legal actions depend heavily on the details. Help yourself by making a record of everything you can remember about the arrest, even if it seems insignificant. And do it now, because your memory will fade over time. Be sure to write down:
- Where you were and what you were doing before you were stopped
- When and where you were stopped
- What reason the officer gave for the stop
- What questions you were asked and what answers you gave, especially those regarding what you had had to eat or drink
- What types of tests were done (eye tracking, walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, breath test, etc.)
- At what point you were told your Miranda rights (right to remain silent, right to an attorney).
- Find witnesses
Anyone who saw you right before, during or right after the stop can help your defense. People tend to forget things quickly, especially if they don’t know it might be important, so getting the statement of witnesses early on can be crucial. In fact, an alibi witness who had not been drinking can make the difference between a guilty verdict and a non-guilty one, though even those who had been drinking may prove to be credible.
- Consult a DUI Lawyer
The single best move you can make for yourself is to hire a qualified DUI attorney who knows the law and will fight for your rights. DUI laws are full of nuances and complexities, and DUI cases involve a lot of science. A lawyer can build a solid defense based on the circumstances of your case and can help you avoid doing anything that can compromise that defense.
What Not to Do
- Do not post about your case on social media.
Resist the urge to share this particular happening in your life. At a minimum, be sure your online profiles are marked as private. Don’t give prosecutors any evidence that could be spun to make you look guilty. Presented out of context, photos and posts can be quite incriminating. Even better than checking your privacy setting, not posting about your case on social media will help ensure that you don’t say anything that alienates you from anyone who tries to help you – especially potential alibi witnesses.
- Do not drink alcohol.
It may seem like overly cautious advice, but staying away from liquor while your case is pending can only help the outcome be in your favor. At a minimum, do not drink publicly, in order to distance yourself from any hint of the irresponsibility that comes with drinking and driving.
- Do not drive with a suspended license.
While it is your right to refuse to take a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content, doing so doesn’t usually work in your favor. Regardless of how that refusal is later used by the prosecution, it serves as the basis for a suspension of your license for 30 to120 days for the first offense, 12 to 18 months for the second offense, 24 to 36 months for the third offense, and 60 months for fourth and subsequent offenses. Even if you have to get to work or to a doctor’s appointment, you are not allowed to drive during a suspension, and if you violate the suspension, you can damage your DUI case. Instead, work with your attorney to appeal the suspension and have someone else drive you where you need to go.
If you have been charged with DUI or have questions about how the law might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call us today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.