Being arrested for a DUI can happen when you least expect it and is often nerve-racking. If you find yourself in this situation, likely, you’re not sure what’s going to happen or what the next steps are. Becoming familiar with the process of a first-offense DUI arrest and how life can change will help you prepare and accept what’s to come.
What Is a DUI?
The acronyms DUI and DWI are known by drivers across the United States, and in certain instances, there is a difference between the two. DWI means “Driving While Intoxicated” and DUI means “Driving Under the Influence.” But how do these charges differ from one another? A DUI doesn’t always mean a specific alcohol level must be met; a prosecutor is only required to prove that the driver was impaired due to alcohol, unlike a DWI. In the state of Minnesota, these two terms are commonly utilized interchangeably because navigating both charges separately placed an unwanted burden on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An individual can be charged with a DWI or DUI in Minnesota if the following factors are met:
- Operating or being in control of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol or a hazardous or controlled substance
- Alcohol concentration appearing over the legal limit (.08) through a breath, blood, or urine test within two hours of being stopped by law enforcement
- Discovery of any amount of specific controlled substances in the system
Keep in mind; each state follows different DWI or DUI offense guidelines, meaning the severity of the charges and factors leading up to can vary. In Minnesota, there are four different degree charges for driving under the influence. (MN Stat § 169A) Regardless, if you’ve found yourself being charged with a DUI, it’s time to choose a quality DUI attorney.
Getting charged with a DUI not only impacts your life, but it can also be humiliating and affect your social circle. Your mugshot will be taken during booking and processing in the county jail after you’ve been arrested. Unfortunately, this information is easily accessible to online users for years to come, meaning it can be extremely detrimental to your social and professional reputation. Many both inside and outside your social circle will likely discover your DUI charge before you even have time to process it, which can result in becoming an outcast.
Every DUI case is different, but it’s most common for individuals to lose their driving privileges, from a few days or months to over a year. During this time frame, you will be prohibited from operating any motor vehicle, meaning you’ll have to rely on another individual or alternative modes of transportation to complete daily tasks such as going to work or grocery shopping. Alternative transportation methods can include utilizing the city bus system, taxis, or a ride service like Lyft or Uber. If your job requires regular travel, getting a DUI will hinder these privileges as renting a car will no longer be an option.
States across the country have also started requiring DUI offenders to install breath alcohol ignition locking devices in their vehicles, mostly if driving privileges are restored after a short time. These devices connect to your car’s ignition and require the user to complete a test before the vehicle can be utilized. Should the device detect a blood alcohol level above the programmed limit, your car will not start and vice versa. DUI offenders that have been ordered to utilize a breath alcohol ignition locking device are typically required to pay an installment fee along with a monthly payment that can range from $50 to $100 a month.
Diminished Personal Funds
Navigating a DUI charge is extremely costly, which means your savings and personal funds will be substantially diminished. The average cost of a first-time DUI offense in Minnesota can reach upwards of $10,000. The different expenses individuals get charged with a DUI are expected to fund can include, but are not limited to:
- Car Towing
- Impound costs
- Court and Legal Fees
- DUI Education Programs
- Increased Insurance Premiums
- Probation Fees
- Drug and Alcohol Assessment
- Drug and Alcohol Counseling
- License Reinstatement Fees
Higher Auto Insurance Rates
When you get charged with a DUI, the conviction becomes a part of your permanent record. Auto insurance companies review your record before approving new and extending current coverage. It’s likely that you already have auto insurance. In some cases, your current provider may decide to drop your coverage altogether depending on your driving offense’s severity and how much danger you pose as a driver. Having a DUI charge on your record automatically categorizes you as a “high-risk” driver, meaning your current provider will increase your premium, and new auto insurance companies will require you to purchase “high-risk” insurance. It will take years before you have access to competitive rates, and the current rates may be difficult to afford, which could mean you will be unable to drive for the foreseeable future.
Child Custody and Travel Restrictions
If you’re currently involved in a divorce case that includes children and child custody, having a DUI charge can be detrimental to your case’s outcome. Having a DUI on your record may impact the judge’s decision for granting you child custody as this may display a drinking problem and be a red flag as to whether you’re a responsible, fit parent.
After being charged with a DUI, you will also be placed on probation, which puts extreme limitations on travel. A probation officer will be assigned, and you must ask for permission to travel outside your residing county. Additionally, travel restrictions also remain once you’re off supervision, which can impact the locations in which you travel. Foreign countries like Canada prohibit admittance even for a first-offense misdemeanor, resulting in detaining and deportation.
Trouble Obtaining Financing
It’s not just your auto insurance company that reviews your criminal record – many lenders review criminal records and credit reports before deciding to provide financing. If you’ve been hoping to obtain a mortgage, car loan, or even a credit card, getting charged with a DUI can drastically affect your likelihood. A DUI conviction is costly, and many creditors consider those with DUI charges of greater risk meaning your application could be denied, or you’ll have access to less competitive terms.
School and Work Limitations
Perhaps you’re a student, have an established career, or both – no matter where you’re at, you should be concerned about schooling and employment after receiving a DUI. While you may be happy with where you’re at, and your employer displays no signs of wanting to replace you, scholarships and promotions may be out of the question. Additionally, given that a DUI affects your means of transportation, overall attendance for both school and work may be impacted, which could result in termination or expulsion. If you lose your job or placement in a school, finding future employment or admission acceptance can be difficult as your criminal record is reviewed in both instances.
Hire an Experienced DUI Attorney Today
If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, it’s recommended to hire a criminal law attorney experienced in DUI charges. Many qualities make up a reliable lawyer; however, you must choose an individual familiar with your residing state’s DUI guidelines and offenses as this will ensure you’re adequately represented in court. Getting a DUI will drastically impact your life, but it doesn’t have to change it altogether – seek guidance from an experienced attorney today so you can continue life as usual.Read More
Were you out with friends having a few drinks and felt okay to drive home? Getting pulled over for a DUI can happen at the drop of a hat, especially if you have knowingly had a few alcoholic beverages and decide to drive your car. Finding yourself in this situation can be incredibly overwhelming, and you are likely to regret your decision. Each state’s guidelines vary in how a DUI arrest is completed, what jail time looks like, and possible sentencing an offender can receive. If you have been arrested for a DUI, it’s time to hire an experienced criminal law attorney so you can be defended efficiently.
It All Starts With a Traffic Stop
Getting pulled over can happen when we least expect it, and it can be even more nerve-racking when you know you have had a few drinks. Immediately following a traffic stop, the officer that pulls you over begins to make observations that are included in your police report. A key detail that many do not think of is how you pull over. Likely, the officer that pulled you over has noted a driving infraction as this is needed to initiate the stop. This can include pulling over erratically, slowing down too abruptly, or pulling over in an unsafe location. Any of these actions will be noted in your police report.
The officer will approach your driver’s side window to ask for license and registration. While you retrieve these items, you will be observed for any impairment signs like fumbling or a slow reaction time. It is vital that you remain polite and do not make any sudden or suspicious movements. Suppose the driver does not comply with the officer’s request, the likelihood of being charged with resisting arrest increases. The officer will be observing you for slurred speech, bloodshot or watery eyes, and the smell of alcohol. If you present any of these signs, you will likely be asked if you have had anything to drink.
During this conversation, the officer will document everything you say. The officer will ask when you consumed your last drink, how much you drank, and what type of alcohol you consumed. Once it has been confirmed that you have been drinking, you will be asked to step out of your vehicle. While you are required to provide license and registration information when requested, you have the right to refuse to answer questions regarding your sobriety. It is strongly recommended to avoid incriminating yourself as you may be able to avoid spending time in jail, and instead, be penalized with an arrest and license suspension.
Completing Roadside Sobriety Tests
Once you exit your vehicle, the officer has suspicion and confirmation that you have been drinking and may be over the legal limit. You will be asked to participate in various roadside sobriety tests to verify your level of intoxication further and confirm that you are in a state that is not safe to drive.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
The officer will ask you to participate in a series of physical field sobriety tests. This helps them collect evidence against you in the form of subjective observation to determine whether you are intoxicated.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): If you are under the influence of alcohol or another drug, exaggerated involuntary jerking of your eyes will occur. The officer will observe how your eyes gaze from side to side by testing your ability to follow a moving object slowly, observing distinct eye jerking at maximum deviation and 45 degrees of center.
- Walk-and-Turn (WAT): The officer will ask you to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn on one foot, and complete the same movement in the opposite direction. This test measures your ability to complete a series of tasks with divided attention.
- One-Leg Stand (OLS): During your field sobriety tests, the officer will ask you to raise one foot six inches off the ground and remain standing on one leg for 30 seconds. If the officer notices any swaying, balancing with arms, hopping, or putting the foot down before the allotted time is reached, this is likely an indicator of possible impairment.
Keep in mind; these are not the only field sobriety tests you may be asked to participate in as there are many more non-standardized field sobriety tests officers can utilize.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Tests (PAS)
You have likely heard of a breathalyzer before, a handheld instrument that the officer will utilize to measure your breath alcohol concentration (BAC). While test results can be unreliable at times, a breathalyzer is an easy tool for officers to assess if there’s probable cause for a DUI arrest. You must be aware you are not required to participate in a field sobriety or PAS test; however, you will be arrested and taken to the police station for questioning upon refusal.
Participating in Questioning at the Station
Upon arriving at the police station, a police officer will read you your Miranda rights before being asked to participate in further questioning. It is encouraged only to provide your name and address and decline other communications until you can choose and have support from an experienced criminal law attorney. You will be asked to take a breathalyzer test, which is a requirement, and refusal is not an option. You may be asked to submit a blood or urine sample for further testing, but you have the right to decline this. Breathalyzers are less likely to provide a reliable test result, so it is encouraged to take this test rather than any other as it may help your attorney present a case in your defense.
Booking & Release
After you have completed station questioning and additional testing, you will either be released the same day or booked into custody. If the office decides to book you into custody or you are arrested over a weekend, you will remain in jail until your bail hearing. Suppose you are already working with a defense attorney. In that case, there is an opportunity to convince the judge to set weekend bail for special circumstances such as work or children at home alone. In Minnesota, there are two different bail amounts a judge is required to set: conditional and unconditional.
- Conditional: Upon being released from jail, you will be required to meet certain conditions, which can include wearing an ankle bracelet or making a promise to quit consuming alcohol or other drugs.
- Unconditional: No rules need to be followed before the scheduled court date for your DUI offense. The judge usually sets a much higher unconditional bail than conditional bail.
Once your bail hearing is complete, you will be required to remain in jail until you are released or someone bails you out. At times, a judge may decide to release you on your own recognizance, which requires you to remain law-abiding and in contact with your attorney until further notice. This is a common occurrence for first-time offenders or if you have a clean criminal record.
While a lot is going on and this process can often be overwhelming, it is recommended to take as many notes as possible of the chain of events. This will provide your defense attorney with a real-time recollection of the occurrence and is beneficial in your case’s defense and success.
Arraignment & Pre-Trial Meeting
After booking is complete, you will be given a date for your arraignment by the court. An arraignment is the initial hearing following your arrest where you will be read your charges and ask for your plea. The plea you submit will either result in sentencing or your case going to trial. If you have already hired a defense attorney, it is likely you will not have to attend the arraignment as they will represent you accordingly.
If you and your defense attorney decide to submit a plea of not guilty, a pre-trial meeting will be scheduled. This usually occurs around the six-week mark following your arraignment and consists of your defense attorney meeting with the prosecutor to complete the following:
- File pre-trial motions
- Ask the prosecution for evidence
- Negotiate possible settlements
In the circumstance that no settlement is reached, your case will then go to trial at a later date.
At times, your defense attorney may believe select evidence against you can or should be suppressed. If this occurs, a suppression or Omnibus hearing will be requested. During this hearing, your defense attorney will attempt to convince the court to suppress any evidence against you that was gathered in violation of your rights.
Trial & Sentencing
If your case goes to trial, you and your defense attorney will decide whether you will be tried before a jury or judge. Regardless of what you choose, it will likely last one to two days. Your defense attorney will develop an effective defense strategy, so you are represented effectively and have a high chance of incurring the least amount of penalties. Below are Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines for DUI charges:
- First Degree: Under Minnesota law, this is considered a felony charge and can occur if this is your fourth DUI violation within the past ten years or if you have previously been charged with a felony DUI. Penalties can consist of up to seven years in prison and up to $14,000 in fines. (MN Stat § 169A.24)
- Second Degree: Under Minnesota law, this is considered a gross misdemeanor and can occur if the current offense includes two or more aggravating factors or if you have been charged with refusal, have another DUI violation within the past ten years, or have a minor in your vehicle. Penalties can consist of up to one year in prison and up to $3,000 in fines. (MN Stat § 169A.25)
- Third Degree: Under Minnesota law, this is also considered a gross misdemeanor and can occur if the current offense includes one aggravating factor or you are charged with a test refusal. Penalties can consist of up to one year in prison, up to $3,000 in fines, and a possible mandatory minimum jail sentence. (MN Stat § 169A.26)
- Fourth Degree: Under Minnesota law, this is considered a misdemeanor and can occur if the current offense includes no aggravating factors. Penalties can consist of up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. (MN Stat § 169A.27)
Hire an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, it is recommended to seek legal guidance immediately. While the process of receiving a DUI charge can be overwhelming and often time-consuming, finding an experienced DUI defense attorney is vital, so you are represented effectively. Reviewing past client testimonials and researching popular attorneys in your area will help you choose the best defense attorney for your unique case. A DUI charge does not have to change your life forever – especially if an expert represents you.Read More
Getting charged with a DUI can be unsettling, and you’ve likely thought it would never happen to you. To navigate the process correctly and ensure all requirements are met, you must come to terms with the circumstances, consequences, and chain of events. You must be honest and hold nothing back, as this will ensure your case gets the most accurate assessment possible.
Whether you have already selected a DUI or criminal defense attorney or are in the process, it’s essential that you provide all the details of your case, provide all accessible paperwork, and be prepared to answer questions. Familiarizing yourself with basic terminology will also help, so you can have effective conversations with the DUI attorney you choose.
In every state, individuals have the right to represent themselves. As tempting as this may be, it’s usually not the best idea. If your case ends up going to trial, the preparation requires a steep learning curve, meaning your lack of legal knowledge and skills can be detrimental to your case’s outcome. Additionally, judges tend to be impatient with defendants who choose to represent themselves as court rules and etiquette are commonly unknown.
Tips for Selection
Hiring an attorney in any scenario means you are hiring an individual to represent your interests. This means it’s incredibly important to find an attorney that fits well with your personality and goals. In the past, hiring an experienced attorney was usually completed by word of mouth, but today there is a variety of online and print resources available to guide you in finding an attorney perfect for your case. To ensure you’re represented correctly in your DUI case, the first step to hiring an experienced DUI attorney begins with understanding each of your candidates’ qualifications.
How Important Is It Hiring an Attorney That Specializes in DUI Cases?
After being charged with a DUI, it’s essential that you hire a DUI or criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI-related cases. Many general practice attorneys work in multiple law areas, meaning they might not always be up to date on current effective DUI defenses. It’s encouraged to search locally for your DUI attorney as these individuals are familiar with your state’s laws and usually offer affordable payment plans for legal fees. Hiring a top-rated DUI attorney can be costly, especially when you likely didn’t expect the events to happen in the first place.
Why Should I Hire a DUI Attorney, and How Can They Help?
Getting a DUI can be life-changing and usually comes with a lot of long-term consequences, even if it’s your first offense. Many individuals that receive a DUI charge are unaware of the impact it will have on their lives. An experienced DUI attorney will be prepared to find the best defense options for your case right from the start and keep you updated every step of the way, so you know if charges are reduced, or a full dismissal is reached. An experienced DUI attorney will do the following:
- Help you gather all necessary information and evidence
- Provide you with expert representation and support
- Guide you in completing and submitting necessary paperwork
- Stay up to date with current state DUI laws and charges
When Should You Get an Attorney for a DUI Case?
It’s recommended to begin searching for a DUI attorney immediately after a DUI arrest occurs. After getting booked, you should contact or call an experienced DUI attorney local to your area so you can get free professional legal advice. This is vital as it may affect the level of consequences you receive, and DUI charges have stringent timelines, making it crucial that you begin getting guidance right away. Certain motions need to be filed by a specific time and date, and if not, an automatic suspension of your license can occur. Additionally, contacting a DUI attorney sooner rather than later will ensure that the incident’s critical details are recollected in full truth.
Interview Multiple Attorneys
It’s recommended to interview multiple DUI attorneys, so you can be sure you’ve found the best one for your unique case. After hearing from the first candidate, individuals charged with a DUI are usually awestruck at the process and the potential life consequences. Discussing your case with multiple attorneys will help you learn about a DUI’s legalities and allow you to differentiate an experienced DUI attorney from one that isn’t as skilled. The more you survey your pool of candidates, the more likely it is you will find the best DUI attorney to help you win your case.
Consider Each Candidate’s DUI Expertise
Each of the candidates you consider should specialize or have extensive experience in working with DUI charges. You must review your candidate’s experience working with DUI charges and past client experiences. The value of having an experienced and successful DUI attorney is life-changing. Many believe that a DUI charge will never go to trial, but unfortunately, each case is unique in the chain of events, and a skilled DUI attorney will be prepared to take every necessary action possible to reach the best outcome for you.
Explore how many cases your candidates have successfully won, read past clients testimonials, and review their courtroom skills. Learning what past clients thought of their experience will give you an idea of how much a candidate is invested in their clients and if you think they’ll fit well with your personality and case. It’s also beneficial to get an idea of your candidate’s relationship with prosecutors as a good relationship with the court displays professionalism and respect for the adversarial system of law. If an attorney has a lousy standing with local prosecutors and police, you could be prejudiced against and receive poor legal tactics in your defense.
How About the Firm Size?
Understanding each of your candidates’ firm size is vital as this will help give you an idea of how intimate of an experience you’re going to receive. In perspective, a small firm that takes on fewer cases will offer you more direct interaction, while a large firm with more cases may have more time but will likely have legal aides and clerks work on portions of your case. It’s best to base a decision on your judgment, comforts, and level of attention you’re hoping for. You want an attorney that’s invested in helping you reach the best possible outcome.
Be Prepared for Your Consultation
Many attorneys offer potential clients consultations free of charge, and it’s essential to use these to your advantage. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get an idea of an attorney’s intent and what they’re really interested in: you or getting another case under their belt. Upon scheduling consultations, it’s recommended that you come prepared with a variety of essential questions, so you can measure each candidate’s communication skills and level of knowledge. An experienced DUI attorney should be easily understandable and clear. If not, it’s time to start considering your next option.
Know Your Legal Costs Upfront
An experienced and highly recommended DUI attorney should outline your costs throughout the entire process, so you’re not left with any surprise fees after your case. For every candidate, you must ask to have all attorney fees in writing with an explanation of each charge. This will ensure that the attorney you decide to move forward with is affordable and fits your budget. Hiring a DUI attorney is much cheaper than conviction, but staying within your budget will eliminate the potential for financial issues down the road.
Make Your Decision Based on Comfort and Confidence
You’ll likely be considering many different candidates, but participating in consultations and interviews will help you narrow your list quickly. Ultimately, choosing the best DUI or criminal defense attorney for your unique case comes down to their confidence in your case and your overall comfort with them. You want an attorney that is confident in the outcome of your case as well as someone that you feel comfortable with and can put trust in. You and your attorney will work as a team for the duration of your case, so establishing a strong relationship from the get-go is vital.
Once you have your list narrowed down, it’s time to decide on what DUI attorney you’ll choose for your case. It’s vital that you don’t rush the decision-making process, as the consequences of a DUI charge can be life changing, especially if you’re not represented correctly. Tell any attorney that you’re interested in selecting that you need time to think it over and that you’ll be in contact. This will allow you to gauge their overall intent as any attorney that rushes a decision is not giving enough consideration to your needs. A DUI charge doesn’t mean your life is forever changed – hire an experienced DUI attorney today, so you can get the results you deserve.Read More