Being arrested for driving under the influence in California is no small matter, even if no one was hurt. The penalties for any DUI charge are incredibly serious and will go on your permanent record, which can make the rest of your life difficult; you face jail time, expensive fines, the loss of your license, trouble finding employment or housing, negative immigration consequences, loss of custody rights, and more (depending on the severity of the situation). Basically, it’s in your best interests to do anything you can to avoid conviction!
Unfortunately, most Californians are unfamiliar with the far-reaching effects of conviction, the intricacies of the legal system, and all of their legal rights. You are innocent until proven guilty! Even if you made a mistake and were driving under the influence, there are many ways your case could be resolved without you having to be penalized. How you handle your arrest and act during the weeks following can make a major difference in how your case unfolds.
As DUI defense attorneys who have successfully represented thousands of southern Californians, here are some of the most common mistakes we see people who have been charged with DUIs making (and how you, if you’ve been charged, can avoid them!).
Common Mistakes To Avoid After Getting A DUI
Resisting Arrest –
If you ignore or refuse to cooperate with an officer’s command at the time of being pulled over, it will go on your report. It will irritate the officers and escalate the situation; it may lead to additional formal charges being placed against you, which can increase the penalties you face. Don’t make things harder for yourself (or your attorney) down the road! You don’t have to speak, but when they tell you to do something reasonable, you should do it immediately and without question – even if you were not under the influence or have reason to believe that they are violating your rights. This can be dealt with later. The safest, quickest, and best way to move past your arrest is to not resist.
Not Exercising The Right To Remain Silent – You should be polite and cooperate, but this does NOT mean that you should talk a lot. Never admit to having used drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether you only had one drink hours earlier or not. If you misuse words or slur your speech, they could take this as evidence of intoxication even if you are not under the influence. The police may act friendly, but they are not looking out for your best interests; everything you say can be used against you, and goes into a police report that they create, so it can be taken out of context. Don’t respond to lines of questioning such as “Have you been drinking today?” or “We just want to get your side of the story”. The less you say, the better! You do have the right to remain silent at all times; you will not be penalized more for not talking, but you could be penalized depending on what you say.
Refusing A Chemical Test – California law requires that you take a chemical test after being arrested for a DUI. Note the word “after” is very important – you can refuse a test after you’ve been pulled over, but before you’ve been formally arrested. After you have been formally arrested, however, you have no right to refuse. Doing so can lead to a mandatory driver’s license suspension, increased time in jail, and more.
Driving On A Suspended License –
Under California law, it’s a crime to drive a vehicle when you know that your driver’s license is suspended, and you could be punished with significant jail time and fines in addition to your DUI penalties. Really, whether you know the status of your license or not, if you’ve gotten a DUI, don’t drive until you’ve cleared it with your attorney!
Missing Your Arraignment –
Your first court date if you’ve been arrested for a DUI is your arraignment, where the judge will officially inform you of the charges against you and of your rights, and you can enter a plea of “Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, or “No Contest”. (Your plea should be “Not Guilty” unless your attorney has instructed you otherwise – you can’t go back from this!) If you miss your arraignment, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest and set bail higher.
Posting On Social Media
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you need to maintain an extremely low profile. That means no posting on social media, even if it’s not about your case – anything can be used against you in court, and you need to minimize the chances of that happening. You should immediately make all of your accounts as private as possible and let your attorney know if you’ve made incriminating posts or removed posts, although anything on the internet can likely be accessed by the prosecution.
The Best Way To Avoid Making These Mistakes And Others
The single most serious of the common mistakes to avoid after getting a DUI in California is not hiring the right legal team to defend you or thinking you don’t need an attorney, because calling an experienced law firm right away will help you avoid most of these mistakes before they can jeopardize your case.
Having seasoned legal counsel on your side will help you navigate your DUI case successfully and confidently!
Call Confianza Legal – We Know How To Win!
The aggressive DUI defense lawyers at Confianza Legal have spent over 20 years advocating for the rights of the accused in California. If you’ve been arrested, contact our leading law firm right away to get reliable legal advice and more information on your next steps. Even if you’ve already made some of the above mistakes, we can still build a strong defense for you. A mistake shouldn’t ruin your chances at achieving your goals and dreams! Call for a free consultation.