Drinking and driving is never a good idea. If you’re heading out for a night on the town, the best thing you can do for yourself is call an Uber or have a designated driver to get back home. It will be safer for you and your passengers, as well as the other people on the road.
But, people do make mistakes. If you do get pulled over for driving under the influence, what should you do? Here are five tips that hopefully you’ll never need to use.
This should be your number one rule anytime you get pulled over, regardless of your level of intoxication. Always cooperate with the officer to the best of your ability. No matter how belligerent you tend to get when you’re drunk, don’t argue with the officer.
They will likely ask you to get out of the car for a field sobriety test. Do your best to follow the officer’s orders, even if you’re stumbling down the road.
2. Expect to Pay
If you’re being arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer will transport you to the police station to be booked. This means your car will be towed — and you’ll be responsible for the towing and impound fees.
Call someone to pick up your car as soon as possible. Impound fees add up quickly, so the longer your car is impounded, the more expensive it will be to retrieve it.
3. Expect to Wait
This is especially important to consider if this is your first offense. Booking and processing can take quite a while if you’re not already in the system. You will be questioned, have your mugshot and fingerprints taken and receive an opportunity to contact your attorney. If you feel like you’ve been wrongly accused, make sure you have your lawyer’s number handy.
While you’re being processed, take the time to contact your lawyer. If you don’t have one who you usually work with, try to find a lawyer or law firm that specializes in DUI cases. They will be able to investigate the stop, discover whether the tests administered were done correctly and determine if you have a case against the law enforcement agency that arrested you.
If you can’t afford an attorney, then, the law ensures you will receive a public defender at no cost. They may not specialize in DUI cases, however, so they could be hit or miss.
5. Understand Bond and Court
Depending on the specifics of your arrest, you may be expected to stay in jail until your court date, or you may be released on bond. In the latter case, you will be permitted to contact a bondsman or a friend or family member to arrange your bond.
If you are released on bond, you will be expected to appear at your court date to be sentenced. If you don’t appear, your bond will be forfeited, and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
If you’re charged with a DUI, the actual sentence will vary depending on the severity of your offense and whether you’ve been arrested for the same crime before. You may be remanded to jail, fined or required to complete community service to serve your sentence and earn your driver’s license back.
If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI, it will be on your record for years. So, the best thing you can do is avoid drinking and driving altogether. Even if you drive to the bar, just talk to the bartender — most of them are perfectly fine with you leaving your car in the lot to call a taxi or Uber instead of letting you drive home drunk. No matter how inconvenient it may seem, you should avoid driving under the influence at all costs.