Four Things to Do Immediately When You’re Charged With a DUI

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Many people drive drunk fairly regularly, thinking that they’re only “buzzed” and they’ll be safe. But in the eyes of the law, “buzzed” is usually the same thing as “drunk,” and drunk driving is highly dangerous.

When you ingest alcohol, your body isn’t able to respond as quickly or accurately as it can when you’re sober. No matter how normal you feel, your body is reacting to the alcohol you’ve consumed, and you won’t always know just how slow your reaction speeds are until it’s too late.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drunk drivers cost the U.S. nearly $2 billion each year. Someone is injured in a drunk driving accident every two minutes, and 32% of all car crash fatalities can be blamed on drunk driving (31% are caused by speeding, 16% by distractions like cell phones, and 11% from weather, like slippery ice).

And yet, many people continue to take the risk and get behind the wheel after a drink or two (or many more). In fact, MADD found that people drive drunk nearly 300,000 times, but fewer 4,000 people are actually arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). And the average drunk driver drives under the influence about 80 times before their first DUI arrest.

If you’ve gotten away with drunk driving in the past, that doesn’t make you immune to getting caught. If you’re currently facing a recent DUI charge, or you want to be prepared just in case, here are four tips for tackling a DUI charge.

  1. Take Notes: A DUI case is often won or lost by its details. Right now, before you forget, write down anything you can remember from your DUI stop, the events leading up to getting pulled over — what you did that night, for example. This list will be strictly for your DUI attorney, so be completely honest and open. Here are some questions to think about as you take notes:
    • When and where did you get stopped?
    • Why did the officer say you were being stopped?
    • Did the officer administer a breath test? If so, what did the testing device look like? Describe it in as much detail as possible.
    • What did you tell the officer that you had eaten or had to drink?
    • What sorts of tests did they ask you to attempt? Examples include walk and turn, standing on one leg, and eye tracking.

  2. Stay Private: Social media is a big part of many people’s lives, and it can be great to stay connected to so many people and organizations. However, prosecutors can also use anything they find on social media against you. They could scroll through your tweets, Facebook posts, and photos to find anything that might appear incriminating out of context. To guard against this, simply set all of your online accounts to private, so that only the people you trust can see you.
  3. Look For Witnesses: If you can find people who saw you right before you were pulled over, right after you were released, or during your stop, they could serve as a powerful defense. Ask them if they would be willing to testify in your favor in court. Your lawyer will want to take statements from each witness, to preserve their memories in their freshest forms.
  4. Find a Lawyer: Finding the right lawyer could be the most important decision you make in your DUI case. As you research traffic lawyers, look for those who specialize in DUI cases, and pay particular attention to traffic lawyers who have training in the forensic science specific to DUIs.

One of the most commonly prosecuted misdemeanor traffic offenses is a DUI, so many traffic lawyers have a solid background in DUI cases, but it’s imperative that you find a great attorney to fight in your corner. Once you’ve searched for traffic lawyers in your area and have a DUI attorney on your side, the best thing you can do for yourself is to try to return to life as usual (minus the drunk driving). Your attorney should be able to take it from here, but be sure to maintain regular communication with the lawyer to keep yourself informed.

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