The Phases of a DUI Charge: A Step by Step Guide on what to Expect When Receiving a DUI
Being charged with driving under the influence will lead to an arrest andfor most people, the process that unfolds is extremely scary
A DUI charge has the ability to ruin a person’s year and taint a person’s record forever. Knowing the process of how a DUI will unfold may help individuals understand their rights and provide them with the ability to fight the charge.
There are a variety of stages that occur when a person receives a DUI charge. The first part of the DUI process is the traffic stop and the last part, if a person decides to fight their charge, is the verdict in their court case.
The steps for the DUI process are as follows:
• The traffic stop
• Sobriety tests
• The arrest and booking
• Hiring a lawyer
The Traffic Stop
The start of the DUI process is when the officer pulls a driver over for a traffic violation, or the officer has probable cause that a crime is being committed. If the officer has reason to believe that the individual driving the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol then the officer will begin to administer sobriety tests.
If a person knows they are over the legal alcohol limit but they feel as though they were pulled over unfairly, it is best for the individual to watch what they say to the officer and consider the option of a lawyer to fight their case.
The reason why this is important is because if it can be proven that the officer did not have probable cause to pull the driver over then the entire case will be dismissed.
The Sobriety Tests
A portable breathalyzer test is the most common test that is utilized when a person is being suspected of driving under the influence. The breathalyzer test will calculate the person’s blood alcohol concentration level and show if they have a BAC level of .08 or higher.
In addition, the officer may choose to administer a field sobriety test. This will consist of activities which will show the officer if the individual is experiencing abnormal coordination and functionality. The three tests that have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are:
• The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (Involuntary eye movement)
• The one leg stand test
• The walk and turn test
These three tests are commonly used for the field sobriety test.
A person has the right to refuse to take either test, but if they do so their license will automatically be suspended for a year or higher depending on the number of DUIs the person has.
The Arrest and Booking
Once the officer has determined that the individual is driving under the influence they will arrest the individual and start the booking process. At this point, the officer should have already read the individual their rights, letting the person know that anything that they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.
The police officer will handcuff and place the individual in the police vehicle and drive them to the nearest jail house for booking. The jail house will take the individual’s picture and fingerprints and place them in a holding cell.
The length of holding depends on various factors, such as criminal records, the number of DUIs, and the BAC level of the individual.
In the state of Florida a bond is usually set for a person charged with a DUI and a bail amount can be paid in order for the individual to be released. Bail is the amount of money in which a person pays in order to guarantee their return for their court date.
The arraignment typically occurs within 72 hours of booking and is the process in which the individual will be explained the charges being brought up against them.
The arraignment is the breaking point in which the individual charged needs to make an important decision on how they are going to proceed with handling their case.
During the arraignment the individual will need to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The no contest plea means that the individual does not admit to the crime but does not contest the charges.
The individual may opt for skipping the arraignment and settling the case immediately or feel as though they have a case to fight and enter a not guilty plea. At this point the individual will want to make sure they have a good lawyer on their side.
Hiring a Lawyer
It is a good idea to for an individual to contact their lawyer before the arraignment so that the lawyer can advise their client on the next best move.
Some cases may be settled out of court depending on the circumstances, however if the case does need to go to court then the individual should hire a lawyer that they are confident with.
Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to defend one’s rights is an important action that should always be taken to ensure the best possible outcome.
Having a DUI charge will add points to a person’s license, cost money in fines, and will be visible on a person’s record.
Having a solid case and a good lawyer could eliminate the repercussions that come with a DUI charge.
Court and Verdict
The final stage in the DUI process, if the case goes to court, will be the verdict. At court the defendant and their lawyer will plead their case, and if found innocent, all of the charges may be dropped and only legal fees would apply.
There are many consequences that come with having a DUI charge and many of the consequences could create hardships in a person’s life. It is beneficial for every individual facing a DUI charge to know their rights and learn about the defenses for a DUI charge.