A DUI conviction or even an allegation of drunk driving in Philadelphia can have devastating consequences on an individual’s life and career.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be looking at serious consequences including jail time, driver’s license suspension, hefty fines, alcohol and drug classes or probation.
The decisions you make during this critical time can have a significant impact not only on your career and future, but also your personal life and financial situation.
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What DUI Arrestees Should Do
If you have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, there are several steps you can take in order to protect your rights.
First, find a safe place to pull over.
It is very likely that the officer who pulled you over will continue to watch your behavior closely including how you drive, how you pull over and how you act.
Be polite to the officer. Treat him or her respectfully.
If you are rude or hostile, an arrest is more likely. If the officer asks that you step out of the vehicle, you must comply. If you fail to do so, you could be charged with resisting arrest.
Don’t answer any potentially incriminating questions.
You do have to give your name, license and registration to the police officer. However, do not discuss details of where you were, if you were drinking or how much you’ve had to drink.
If you are concerned you may incriminate yourself, apologize to the officer and ask for an attorney to be present. Do not make any inaccurate statements. If you don’t know the answers to questions, say you don’t know.
If the police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, you have the right to decline.
Field sobriety tests are not reliable indicators of impairment. On the contrary, these tests can be extremely subjective. You could also decline being tested by roadside Breathalyzers. Our Philadelphia DUI lawyers advise individuals to take blood tests or chemical tests, which you are required to take at the police station.
Once you have been released, write down everything you remember.
Write down details such as what you were doing and where you were, how much you had to drink, how the officer behaved, what you told the officer, and if the officer read you your Miranda rights. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney who will fight for your rights.
Arrest Landmines You NEED to Avoid
When you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI, it is often quite a stressful and traumatic experience.
You probably don’t know what to expect which can easily result in making dumb mistakes that affect your future. While you may be able to recover from some of these mistakes, you may not be able to recover from others.
Here are some of the common pitfalls you need to avoid.
Pleading guilty or assuming that your case can’t be defended.
Many believe that if they have a bad breath, blood or field sobriety test, they must plead guilty. This is simply not true. There may be several valid defenses. For example, the Breathalyzer may not have been properly calibrated or the blood sample may have been contaminated.
Not showing up at court on your allocated court date.
Failure to appear in court can create more problems for you. It could even result in an arrest warrant being issues. Keep track of dates and times for all court appearances.
Driving on a suspended driver’s license after your arrest.
If you have been informed that your driver’s license is suspended, do not drive until it has been reinstated. Driving with a suspended license could result in more charges and fines. It could also affect your DUI case when it goes to court.
Not speaking with a DUI defense lawyer.
One of the first steps you should take immediately after your arrest is to hire a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer. Your attorney will not only be able to analyze all of the evidence in your case, but also be able to build a solid defense strategy.
While most people are aware of the immediate effects of a DUI conviction, many still don’t grasp the long-term repercussions. Here are some of the consequences that could haunt you for some time to come.
If your job involves driving, you may find yourself without a job if or when your employer sees a DUI on your record. Your permanent criminal record could also affect your future employment. Even a first-time DUI offense can have a significant impact on your future ability to obtain certain jobs. More and more employers are conducting criminal background checks. So, it is highly likely that employers may discover your DUI and this could prove to be a factor in a potential employer’s decision to hire you.
If you have a DUI conviction on your record, it might also become difficult to get into college. Also, you may not be able to receive a professional license or certificate that you may require to do your job. Those who require licenses include doctors, teachers, drivers, attorneys, etc.
If you get convicted of a DUI, your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. In order to get your license reinstated, you will have to show evidence of auto insurance, which satisfies your state’s minimum coverage. You may require an SR-22, a type of vehicle liability insurance document required by the state Department of Motor Vehicles for “high-risk” insurance policies. Insurance companies tend to charge convicted DUI offenders much more for coverage and it could be several years before your rates are reduced again.
In many states a DUI conviction, especially if it involved injury, child endangerment or high blood alcohol concentration may be a felony. That felony could remain on your record for a very long time or even permanently. You may not be able to get your DUI expunged even if it is a misdemeanor. Most employers conduct criminal background checks before hiring an employee. In addition, many volunteer organizations and landlords run background checks and will be able to see your DUI conviction.
If you are convicted of a felony DUI, you may lose your right to vote, buy a firearm or even get a passport. You may also lose eligibility to get government assistance in the future including federal housing. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you could very likely face deportation.
Experienced Attorneys On Your Side
Dealing with the repurcussions of a DUI is a difficult burden to bear, but you’ll get through it.
Just don’t make any silly decisions and be sure to seek out quality advice from people you trust.