Being arrested for driving under the influence is scary, and for many, it is a wake-up call that they did not realize they needed. The consequences can be dire. You will probably lose your license for a period of time, and you could either be fined or be sentenced to time in jail. Luckily, a lot of DUI charges end up being reduced, and a lot of judges choose to go easy on first-time offenders. But you should not just cross your fingers, wait for your court date, and hope things will turn out in your favor. Instead, you need to be proactive. Take these steps to improve your chances of a good outcome.
1. Hire a good DUI defense lawyer.
Hiring a DUI defense attorney can cost you a few thousand dollars, but this is money well spent. Although you have the legal right to represent yourself in court, people who take this approach rarely come out on top. A DUI lawyer has the legal knowledge necessary to formulate a good defense for your case. Further, the municipality will have a lawyer on their side, and your knowledge is not an even match for theirs. A good attorney will know exactly what approach is best in your case and can guide you through the process.
2. Stay sober.
You're probably reeling from the experience of being arrested for driving under the influence, so your first instinct might be to get a drink. But if you were to do anything silly under the influence of alcohol right now, it would reflect very badly on you and hurt your chances of having your DUI charges reduced. You want to be able to tell the judge that you messed up but it was a one-time mistake. You can't really make that argument if you've gotten in trouble again since the DUI. Stay sober during this time, and if you do drink at all, stick to one or two drinks at home with responsible friends or family members present.
3. Consider attending AA meetings.
Even if you do not feel that you have a true problem with alcoholism, you should consider attending a few Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings between now and your court date. This will enable your lawyer to make the argument that you're taking strides towards cleaning up your act and getting back on track. There are many AA meetings in most cities — you can probably find one on any day of the week that you choose to look. And even if you don't truly suffer from alcoholism, you will find that the meetings teach important lessons about accountability and responsibility, which you can apply later in life.
4. Don't drive without your license.
Chances are, your license has been revoked temporarily until your court date. You'll need to find alternative transportation during this time. Absolutely do not drive without your license and take the chance of getting caught. If you are caught, the judge will have little sympathy for you, and you may be given the maximum sentence.
5. Gather evidence.
Finally, work with your lawyer to gather evidence that may show you're not actually guilty. For instance, if anyone was with you at the bar and can attest to the fact that you really did only have two beers over a three-hour period, bring that to the attention of your lawyer. Your lawyer will suggest other pieces of evidence that may exist and point you in the right direction to gather them.
If you use the time between your DUI charge and your court date as advised above, you stand a better chance of getting a favorable outcome in court.