DUI charges can have a lasting impact on your life. If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”), it can result in your applications for housing being denied, the loss of employment opportunities, and have other enduring consequences. Knowing what to do after being charged with a DUI can significantly reduce the consequences and prevent the damage from spreading to other areas of your life.
Here are five things to do when facing a DUI charge:
- Enroll in an Alcohol Education Program (“AEP”)
As an alternative to more serious penalties, some states allow those charged with a DUI to complete an education program that explores the consequences of reckless driving behaviors, including what happens when one drives under the influence. In some states, enrolling in an AEP is mandatory in conjunction with a DUI sentence, but other states offer it as a lesser sentence. Consider enrolling in an AEP if it is offered.
2. Complete Probation
If you have no prior DUI charges or if your criminal record is clean, some states may offer you probation instead of proceeding to sentence you. If probation is offered and you complete it, you can avoid a DUI sentence.
Probation terms usually include your driver’s license being suspended for the entire probation period, your consenting to random drug testing, paying fines and probation fees, meeting with a probation officer, and attending an AEP.
3. Take a Plea Bargain
In some circumstances, a prosecutor will offer you a reduced charge in exchange for a guilty plea, which avoids trial. A plea bargain is more likely to be offered if the legal case against you has shortcomings, such as insufficient evidence (i.e. lack of a blood or breath sample) or the lack of probable cause for pulling you over. You should carefully consider the terms of any plea bargain offered before taking it, as you are usually consenting to a black mark of some sort on your record if you accept. An attorney can explain the situation and help you decide whether to accept a plea bargain or proceed to trial.
4. Have a DUI Charge Expunged
If you are convicted of a DUI, you still might be eligible to have your DUI charges erased from your record. You will only be eligible to have your charges expunged if your sentence involved probation and no jail time, and you successfully completed your probation. This option is usually only available for first-time offenders with clean criminal records. An attorney can assist you with filing a petition to expunge your record.
5. Hire a Lawyer
DUI charges are serious, and you should always consider hiring an attorney to advise you if you have been charged. Many people do not understand that a DUI charge is not just a traffic violation, it is a felony. A good attorney will help negotiate on your behalf and could be the difference between your serving jail time and being offered probation or having your charges reduced.
If you need an attorney to handle your DUI case, visit courtbuddy.com and get matched with vetted Criminal Law attorneys in minutes. Attorneys on our platform work for flat rates quoted in advance, so you can navigate through your stressful legal case without undue financial stress.