The best thing you can do to avoid a DUI is to not drink and drive. Drinking and driving is not only dangerous for you, it puts the lives of those around you in jeopardy. You simply should not do it. But I am not your parents, and sometimes we are suspected of things that are not our fault, so here is some advice on what to do if you're suspected of DUI.
Step 1 – Respect The Police Officer
If you have been pulled over and are suspected of driving under the influence, the first thing to remember is that police officers are – generally speaking – trying to keep the public safe. Be respectful of the job they do and treat them well. Not only is this the right thing to do, it can go a long way to helping you out down the line. Being a jerk will only persuade an officer to take actions that will negatively impact you.
Step 2 – Do Not Incriminate Yourself
Officers are trained to get you to admit to as much incriminating information as they can. Again, this is just them trying to do their very important job. However, just because they ask doesn't mean you have to answer. Rather than saying "I have only had a few", it is much better to say "my lawyer told me to not answer that question". The police officer will likely push harder, and possibly even detain you, but remember, it is your right – and to your benefit – to remain silent in that situation.
Another way you can incriminate yourself is a field sobriety test. These are incredibly subjective, yet they are a great tool for law enforcement to collect evidence against you. You are under no legal obligation to submit to a field sobriety test. If you are asked to, you can refuse. However, refusal of a field sobriety test can count toward probable cause for the arrest. Once arrested, the officer will attempt to use a breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content. You may also refuse this breathalyzer; however, the officer will likely then obtain a telephonic warrant to forcibly take your blood. Refusing a breathalyzer may also result in the mandatory suspension of your driver's license for a year. So, whether or not to submit to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer is tricky. It may prevent the officer from obtaining valuable evidence against you, but it may also result in serious unintended consequences. One must use their best judgement if in this situation.
Step 3 - Write Down The Details Of Your Arrest
If you are reading this page, this is likely the stage you are at. Don't panic. As long as you learn from any mistakes you may have made and take the proper precautions to mitigate the repercussions, your life is not ruined.
If you have not done it already, one very useful thing you can do is try to remember all the details about your arrest. Where were pulled over? Were you read your Miranda rights? How long had it been since you stopped drinking? The more you can accurately remember, the better chance your attorney can mitigate the penalties.
Step 4 - Bail Out
It does not do you any good to remain in jail. The judge and prosecutor will be more lenient if you can prove to them that you will get treatment and stay out of trouble while out on bail. Every day that you are out not breaking any more laws shows to the court that you may be rehabilitated.
Step 5 - Get Treatment
For every DUI Conviction in the State of Idaho, the judge will order the defendant to obtain a "substance abuse evaluation." This evaluation takes into account historical and environmental factors of your life to determine how much counseling or other forms of treatment may be necessary. After an interview, the evaluator will draft a report containing treatment recommendations. If you would like to really impress the prosecutor and the Judge, you can get the evaluation and recommended treatment done ahead of time, even before the court orders it.
Step 6 - Hire a Lawyer
I promise you that this is not on here as step 5 just because I am trying to get your business. Finding a good lawyer who understands local DUI law and is willing to put in hard work is probably the most important thing you can do to mitigate harsh punishments. These are some of the things to think about when hiring an attorney:
- Are they local? There are some major benefits to hiring a local attorney. Good local attorneys will have a good rapport with officers and judges, which is a major benefit to you.
- Hire an attorney who has handled multiple DUI cases. Lawyers often specialize in specific types of law. An attorney may be excellent at handling divorce cases but have very little knowledge when it comes to criminal cases like DUI. This is your future we are talking about here. Make sure you trust it with someone who has done this before.
- Meet the attorney in person for a free consultation. It is important that you get along with and trust your attorney, and a free, in-person consultation is one of the best ways to asses this.
If you are ever suspected of DUI, or if you already find yourself suspected, follow as many of these steps as you can to give yourself the best outcome possible. In the end, you'll be glad you did.