What to Do if Arrested for DUI

If you think that a DUI charge isn’t such a big deal, think again. More people in Georgia spend time in jail for DUI more than for any other crime; in metro Atlanta, the average jail time is 10 days. A first-time offender can lose their license for a minimum of four months and for up to five years. Add to that the considerable time spent and expense incurred for court-mandated community service, driving school, an interlock device for your vehicle, probation, and alcohol programs, and the cost of a DUI reaches well into the thousands of dollars. A DUI conviction also sets you up for a lifetime of astronomically high insurance premiums, since the charge remains indefinitely on your driving record.

However, being arrested for DUI does not necessarily mean you’ll be convicted. Making the right decisions after your arrest can increase your chances of an acquittal or a lesser charge. Here’s how to proceed after you’re arrested for DUI.

Hire a DUI Attorney

Until the middle of the 1990s, most general-practice attorneys could handle a DUI charge with no problem. Then came forensic science, and DUI laws began shifting rapidly from relatively straightforward to extremely complex. These days, only an experienced DUI attorney should handle DUI cases. The law changes too often and is too intricate to trust your case to someone with a different area of specialization.

Focus on the Ends, Not the Means

It’s not unusual to balk at the cost of a solid DUI defense, but consider this: Would you rather pay an experienced, talented attorney once, or pay for a DUI conviction over and over in the form of license reinstatement fees, high insurance premiums, DUI school, and lost wages? When you’re arrested for DUI, the most important thing is to avoid a conviction, not to save money. I pride myself on charging very reasonable fees that are commensurate with my education and experience, and I’m happy to discuss a payment plan with clients whose financial situation necessitates it.

Be Proactive

Nobody wants to deal with the unpleasantness of a DUI hearing, but it’s absolutely necessary to get it done. Request a hearing from the Department of Driver’s Services (if they do not contact you first) within 10 business days of your arrest. If you don’t, you may automatically forfeit your license before even going to trial.

Don’t Rely on Friends’ Advice

Friends mean well, but unless they specialize in DUI defense, they cannot possibly give you accurate and helpful advice about your DUI arrest. Every case is different, and what worked for them or someone they know may not be applicable to your case. And – perhaps most important – don’t assume that your or friends’ contacts in the legal system can help.