“I Just Got Arrested for DUI, What Should I Do Now?”

First, Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re in good company. The Archbishop of San Francisco was arrested for DUI! There are some things that you should do as quickly as you can.

Gather the Evidence

Every case turns on its particular set of facts. Proving the facts that help you is the hard part. Your drinking pattern is almost always essential to the case. Almost everyone lies to the cop about what they had to drink. The most common statement is: “I had two beers two hours ago.” If that were true, your blood alcohol would be close to zero. When you test comes back over the limit, you’re exposed as a guilty liar. However, we can overcome that problem with evidence. Think about who was with you and what they observed about your eating and drinking. Make a list of all potential witnesses, including name, address, and telephone. Collect any receipts that show drinks. Collect any receipts that show food. Food in the stomach will slow down the rate that alcohol is absorbed. Start a document titled “For My Lawyer,” and don’t show it to anyone but your attorney. That preserves the attorney-client privilege. In that document write down every detail you can remember about what you had to eat and drink, and every detail of the arrest experience. That includes any conversation you had with the officer on the drive from scene. Your memory of the events will never be better than it is right now. And you never know what snippet of conversation will jog the officer’s memory months later. Also, go back to the scene of the arrest and take pictures of where you were stopped and where you did any field sobriety tests. If there was construction along the route, it’s important to document the road conditions immediately. If there was an accident, you should call me immediately to capture all of the relevant evidence. Any injury to another person and you could be charged with a felony—every hour that passes, accident evidence is lost. Skid marks will dissipate, and if it rains, they will wash away completely.

Keep Track of the 10 Day DMV Deadline

The pink Temporary License you were given when they snatched your real one explains—in the fine print—that you only have ten days from the date of the arrest to request your DMV hearing. If you don’t request a hearing, the DMV will automatically suspend your license for four months. However, after 30 days of no driving, you can get a restricted license that allows driving for work purposes, and driving to-and-from the DUI class you must enroll in in order to qualify for the restricted license.

Take Advantage of a Free Consultation

You should always have an attorney represent you. If you can’t afford and attorney, then have the public defender represent you. There may be significant legal issues in your favor that you will never discover on your own. Many judges or commissioners who preside over arraignments (your first court date) try to encourage you to “just take care of this today.” The consequences of a DUI will haunt you for years; don’t rush into a conviction. If you can afford to hire an attorney, do so. For one thing, the public defenders cannot handle DMV hearings, and the technicalities involved are difficult for you to pick up on your own. Feel free to call me for a consultation at no-charge. I’ll go through the facts, the science of DUI, and the law with you so you can decide the best approach to your particular situation.