If you are facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in New Jersey, you need to take your situation very seriously. Not only could a conviction lead to fines, jail time, a driver’s license suspension and other penalties, but it could impact your life in other ways as well. A DUI conviction goes on your permanent record—and it is not eligible for expungement.
Taking your DUI charge seriously starts with ensuring that you are making smart decisions. There are both steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid, and if you aren’t careful, you could make your situation much worse than it needs to be. With this in mind, here is an overview of seven steps to take after a drunk driving arrest, starting with hiring an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer.
7 Steps to Take After a DUI Arrest in New Jersey
Step #1: Schedule an Initial Consultation with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer
When you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. While you have the option of representing yourself (or handling your case “pro se”), this is not your best option for a variety of different reasons. While many people have concerns about the cost of hiring a New Jersey DUI lawyer, the reality is that it can be far more costly to try to handle your case on your own.
Your first step in hiring a lawyer is to schedule an initial consultation. During your initial consultation, your lawyer will answer your questions and explain what you can expect as your case progresses. Your lawyer will also discuss the costs of your legal representation (and the potential costs of not hiring a lawyer) so that you can make an informed decision about how to move forward.
Step #2: Take Detailed Notes About Your Drunk Driving Arrest
Before your initial consultation with a New Jersey DUI lawyer, you will want to take detailed notes about your drunk driving arrest. The more details you can write down, the better. Think back to the night of your arrest and try to answer questions like:
- Why did the officer say he or she pulled you over?
- Did the officer explain how to take the breathalyzer and what would happen if you refused?
- Did the officer explain how to perform the field sobriety tests?
- Did you understand the officer’s explanations?
- Did the officer read your Miranda rights? If so, when?
These types of details could all have a significant impact on the outcome of your DUI case. If the police violated your rights by stopping you without reasonable suspicion or taking all of the steps necessary to execute a valid DUI arrest, then you may be entitled to keep certain evidence out of court. Without enough evidence, prosecutors won’t be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Step #3: Make Sure You Know the Key Mistakes to Avoid
When facing a DUI charge, there are several costly mistakes you need to avoid. You have defenses available regardless of whether you were driving drunk—but you are at risk of being convicted regardless of whether you were driving drunk as well.
To help protect yourself against unnecessary consequences, you need to avoid mistakes throughout all stages of your DUI case. These include common mistakes like ignoring your DUI charge or assuming that you will be found guilty (or innocent) in court.
Step #4: Make Plans to Attend Your Arraignment (Unless Your Lawyer Advises Not To)
Your first court date after a DUI arrest in New Jersey is your arraignment. You must either attend your arraignment or formally waive your right to appear. If you do neither, you can be charged with failure to appear, and this can lead to the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
If you do not waive your right to appear, the judge will read the charge (or charges) against you, and the judge will ask you to enter a plea with respect to each charge. Your New Jersey DUI lawyer will explain what to say (and what not to say) so that you do not jeopardize your defense.
Step #5: Make Sure You Know What is At Stake in Your DUI Case
A DUI conviction in New Jersey can have numerous consequences. Even if this is your first DUI and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.08 percent, you are still facing the possibility of jail time along with a host of other penalties. Not only that but having a DUI on your permanent record can also impact your education or your career (or both).
Step #6: Get Treatment if Necessary
If you think you may need treatment for alcohol dependence, you should seek treatment promptly. Not only can this be important for your health, but it can also help show the judge that you are taking your situation seriously. If you made a mistake, the last thing you want to do is put yourself or others at risk by getting behind the wheel after drinking again.
Step #7: Set Yourself Up for Success
Along with prioritizing your health and avoiding another DUI charge, there are several other steps you will want to take to set yourself up for success. When you hire an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer, your lawyer will walk you through everything you need to know in order to assert the strongest possible defense. While facing a DUI charge is a challenging and stressful situation, you can take steps to protect yourself—and the more you do to protect yourself, the better the outcome of your case will be.
Speak with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer in Confidence
Are you facing a DUI charge in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer.