So you've been arrested for DUI. What do you do now? There's a number of steps that you can and should do immediately to help in your defense.
A large part of DUI defense is plea negotiations: your attorney argues that a full prosecution against you for DUI is unnecessary and that the facts don't support it. Depending on the circumstances, a DUI may get reduced to a lesser-included offense (reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, speeding, etc.) that is more palatable to accept. What you can do to help your attorney is show that you are taking the charges very seriously. To show that you are taking the charges seriously you can do what the State would want you to do anyway - this shows that you recognize your responsibility and are actively making up for any mistakes that you may have made. Further, even if convicted or plead to DUI or any lesser offense, these steps will count toward your punishment as long as you complete them after your arrest. You can't "bank up" these actions in anticipation of a future DUI charge, but once charged you can take these actions to help in your defense. This article will outline some of the pro-active steps that you can do to help with your own DUI defense.
1. The Drug and Alcohol Evaluation. Get a clinical drug and alcohol evaluation by an authorized professional. They range in price from under $100 to over $300 and a comprehensive list can be found here:
The evaluator will ask you questions about your history of use of drugs and alcohol, any interference that it might have with your life, and the evaluator will come to a conclusion as to whether or not you need further treatment. Often the evaluator will decide that you don't need further treatment, but if the evaluator recommends further treatment then it will usually be in the form of 12-step or similar group meetings or other counseling sessions.
2. The DUI Risk Reduction Course. "DUI school" is a few hour class that will cost a few hundred dollars. You can find a number of them online, some are more entertaining and some are cheaper. It is best to shop around and read reviews. The Risk Reduction Course is also required as a condition to get your license back at the earliest possible time.
3. Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel (MADD VIP). This is a recent concoction of the State where you are required to attend a few hour seminar for $50 held about once a month. There are a few locations that can be found here:
This seminar is usually a number of graphic presentations by members of law enforcement, EMTs, and parents or loved-ones of people killed by drunk/drugged driving. It is a powerful and cathartic experience.
4. Community Service. 40 hours of community service for a charitable organization is almost always required for a DUI or lesser offense. Generally people do work for nonprofit organizations like the salvation army, but any nonprofit organization should do. Be wary if you plan on doing your community service for a church: you can do work not related to the religious purpose, like cooking or delivering food to those in need in an event organized by the church, but doing work directly related to the religious purpose will NOT count (setting up chairs for the weekly service does NOT count). You'll need to provide a letter from the supervisor on the nonprofit's letterhead that states the dates and hours worked, and provides contact information for the supervisor if there are any further questions.
Those four steps are the best way to get a jump on the DUI. They will help your attorney in negotiating for your case. If you are convicted then they will be the punishment you'll have to do anyway, so it might be best to take care of it sooner rather than later. And please keep your paperwork and receipts and forward it all to your attorney.
All this is assuming that you do have an attorney. If you don't have an attorney, GET AN ATTORNEY. Technically, attorneys are all practicing Doctors of Law. To use an old metaphor, if you need to have a tooth pulled then you could do it yourself, but would you rather go to a dentist?
I am a well-trained and experienced defense attorney who handles these types of cases every single day. I can help you through the entire process and give you an excellent defense. Give me a call. I want to help.