The majority of the people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) are otherwise law-abiding citizens who had a momentary lapse in judgment that led to getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. If you fall into that category, and you are now facing DUI charges, you are likely extremely worried about the outcome of the case against you. In addition, you must now navigate the criminal justice for the first time under less than ideal circumstances, Starting at the time of your arrest there are steps you need to take to preserve your rights and any possible defenses you may have to prevent a conviction. Although no two DUI cases include the exact same facts and circumstances, the Tennessee DUI defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby have put together some common steps to take after a DUI arrest.
- Remain silent. Human nature makes most people want to try and talk their way out of an arrest. This rarely, if ever, works. Once a law enforcement officer has made the decision to place a suspect under arrest, you can only hurt yourself by continuing to protest or “explain.” At this point, remaining silent is your best course of action because anything you say can – and will—be used against you. For example, telling the officer “I only had a couple of beers” will be used as an admission that you did consume alcohol before operating your vehicle.
- Write down everything you remember for the 12 hour period leading up to your arrest. As soon after your release from custody as possible, take a few minutes to create a timeline leading up to your arrest. In particular, make a note of what you ate and when along with what alcoholic beverages you consumed and when. This information could help with your defense.
- Arrange for the release of your vehicle. If you have never been arrested before, the last thing you may be thinking about when released is your vehicle; however, the longer you wait to get it out the more you will pay as most tow yards charge by the day for storage.
- Retain the services of an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney. Do not make the mistake of thinking you don’t need an attorney. Often, the non-judicial consequences of a DUI conviction will haunt you for many years to come. Despite what you may have been told, a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. You may have a viable defense that prevents a conviction. Even if a conviction is inevitable, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a plea agreement that avoids many of those negative consequences.
- Ask yourself some difficult questions. No one wants to admit that they have a substance abuse problem, but now is the time to do some serious self-analysis. Ask yourself if this was truly a momentary lapse in judgment and you just happened to get caught or if an arrest was inevitable and you’re lucky is hadn’t happened before now.
- Seek treatment if necessary. If you do decide you may be a problem with alcohol, now is the time to do something about it. Not only is it the best decision for you and your loved ones, but voluntarily seeking treatment will often impress the prosecutor or judge when it comes contemplating a sentence.
- Obtain copies of any relevant medical records. On the other hand, if you have any medical conditions that could have mimicked intoxication, interfered with your ability to perform the field sobriety tests, or affected your breath test results, contact your physician and obtain documentation of your condition for your attorney.
- Appear at all court dates! You may be worried about the ultimate outcome of your case. That worry might cause you to fear appearing in court. Failing to appear, however, is the surest way to end up back in jail. Your bond could be revoked and the judge could order you to remain in custody until your case is resolved. Just talk to your attorney before all court dates and let him/her tell you what is going to happen in court to alleviate your concerns.
- Be realistic with your expectations. Although the prosecuting attorney would have you believe otherwise, not all arrests for DUI are a slam dunk for the State. There are defenses to a DUI charge; however, your case may not be one of the cases where a viable defense exists. Listen to your DUI defense attorney’s advice. If a defense exists, you will need to decide whether you want to risk a trial or not. If no valid defense exists, your attorney will focus on negotiating the best plea agreement possible. Be realistic you’re your expectations though when it comes time to decide how to proceed with your case.
If you have been arrested for DUI in the State of Tennessee, please feel free to contact the DUI defense lawyers at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.