Driving is a privilege, not a right. Given how dangerous a motor vehicle can be when operated without proper training or by a driver who is under the influence of an intoxicant, it’s no surprise that most jurisdictions dole out harsh penalties to people who have been found guilty.
In some cases, even a first offense can lead to serious fines and a license suspension, which can disrupt many aspects of your personal and professional life for years to come.
But being charged with impaired driving is not the same as being convicted, and even if you are convicted an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to help reduce your sentence based on extenuating circumstances.
In this blog, we’ll outline three important things you need to know about impaired driving charges, and what you should do if you have been charged with this crime.
1. Hire a Criminal Lawyer with DUI Experience
When police suspect someone is driving under the influence, they will pull the vehicle over and administer a breathalyzer test. If the test reveals that you have over 80 mg of alcohol or drugs in your system, you will be charged with driving “over 80.” Should you refuse to take the test without reasonable grounds for doing so, you can also face charges.
Either way, you will be arrested and taken to a police station, where further tests will be administered and more breath samples will be taken.
In most jurisdictions, you will undergo a bail hearing within 24 hours of being arrested, and you should make sure you have a criminal lawyer with you for this hearing. Hiring a criminal lawyer like Jeff Reisman Law who specializes in impaired driving cases will help you receive favorable bail conditions and ensure you have someone in your corner who can provide you with accurate advice as to how best you should proceed.
2. Abide by Probation Conditions
Typically, people awaiting a court date for DUI charges will need to abide by a number of conditions, including:
- Promising to appear in court when ordered to do so
- Refraining from drinking, carrying, or purchasing drugs or alcohol
- Informing the court about any changes of address, employer, or name
- Keeping the peace
It is essential that you abide by these conditions while awaiting trial, as violating probation can aggravate your charges and increase the likelihood that you will face a severe penalty.
3. Consult with Your Lawyer Before the Trial
If convicted of impaired driving, you may face an automatic license suspension, heavy fines, increased insurance rates, and even jail time.
But how severe your punishment is will depend in large part on how your case is argued in court. Wrongful arrests for impaired driving are not unheard-of, and you have the legal right to fight the charges.
A criminal defense lawyer may help you clear your name by proving the police overstepped their authority in laying charges, or did not follow the necessary protocols. This can lead to the charges being dropped altogether, or can help secure a more lenient sentence.
Your lawyer may alsobe able to argue for reduced sentencing based on the fact that the incident is an aberration from an established pattern of good behavior.
Impaired driving charges are a grave matter, which is why it is so important to make sure you have expert legal advice from a criminal lawyer to help you navigate the legal system and ensure that one single event doesn’t overshadow your life for years to come.