It’s officially 2018. And while the new year offers motivation for new beginnings for many, if you were recently one of the many arrested for drinking and driving either on New Year’s Eve – or any of the days leading up to the new year – 2018 may not be looking all that hopeful right now.
However, you do not need to start off the year on the wrong foot. You do not need to just accept the charge or plead guilty. Rather, now is the time to gather the facts and create a strategy for how to move forward. You can start mapping out your plan by following these five steps.
Step 1: Understand what you are up against
There are criminal and administrative consequences that come with driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated convictions. On the criminal side – even for just a first time DUI or DWI — you could wind up in jail and/or having to pay expensive fines. On the civil side, Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration can suspend your driver’s license.
Aside from this, a DUI or DWI will result in expensive insurance premiums, meaning you will continue to pay for a conviction for some time to come.
Step 2: Reflect on the traffic stop
You have constitutional rights and a police officer cannot just pull you over because he or she feels like it. Rather, the officer must have probable cause to be able to pull you over.
Think back to the circumstances of the traffic stop. Was there a reason why you were pulled over? Did the officer give a reason that didn’t seem to add up with what was really happening? Do you think the traffic stop itself was legal?
Step 3: Figuring out your blood alcohol content
There are a few things to know about blood alcohol content. The first is that the level will determine what type of charge you are facing. If the claim is that your blood alcohol content was .08 or above, this is a DUI. A .07 – or just the appearance of being under the influence – is a DWI.
All of this said, not all breathalyzer results are accurate, as not all machines are properly calibrated and not all officers know how to properly use the machines. So breathing over the limit – or anywhere on the scale – does not necessarily mean the charge will stick or that you are guilty of a crime.
Step 4: Take a quick inventory of the field tests
Were the circumstances of the field sobriety tests simply stacked against you? For example, tiredness can just cause a lack of coordination, making the one-leg stand test almost impossible. It’s also cold and flu season and some medications have side effects, which again, can impact balance and cognitive abilities. For some people, a pre-existing condition can also make field sobriety tests impossible to pass, no matter what circumstances are surrounding them.
Carefully think over everything that happened leading up to the traffic stop. Do the results accurately reflect the charge?
Step 5: Think about getting outside help
A DUI is serious business. Having one can negatively impact not only your personal life, but also your professional life. Even just the simple fact of having a criminal record can shut doors before they have even been open. And while no attorney can guarantee getting a charge dropped, having an attorney review your case can give you an advantage when it comes to point out discrepancies and finalizing a plan on how to proceed.