Ask a DUI Attorney: Next Steps After You Get a DUI

Scott Salmu is a San Diego attorney who offers DUI help. If you get a DUI for drinking and driving, Salmu Law Firm has lawyers to help.

Ask a DUI Attorney: Next Steps After You Get a DUI

Okay so maybe you weren’t okay to drive home that night, even if it was just a few miles. But now that those dreaded three letters are hanging over your head, it’s time to buck up and handle your DUI—the right way—before a bad situation becomes much worse.

Step One: Get a lawyer

Legal counsel is not required in DUI cases—you’re allowed to represent yourself—but an experienced lawyer is crucial to navigating the complicated court processes you will face. At Salmu Law, we can easily explain what to expect and your available options so you make the best decisions possible.

Step Two: Call the DMV

With or without a DUI attorney, one of the most important things to do after your arrest is call the DMV within 10 days to obtain a Stay and a Hearing.

A DMV Hearing gives you an opportunity to try to prevent the DMV from suspending your license, and a Stay will allow you to keep driving past the expiration of the 30-day temporary license that the arresting officer gave you in exchange for your real license. If you don’t call within the 10-day period, your license will be automatically suspended 30 days after your arrest.

Also, it’s critical to call the DMV Driver Safety Office, NOT your local DMV office. For San Diego County residents, that would be Mission Valley (1455 Frazee Road Suite 400, 92108; 619-220-5300).

Step Three: Get your police report

The officer’s written arrest report is forwarded to the DMV and the court, but it won’t be available until your first court date. However, don’t rely on the police report alone for facts relating to your case. Take notes as soon as you can after your arrest, including why you were pulled over, whether there were any witnesses to your arrest and your drinking, and if the officer said anything unusual or inappropriate. Not all DUI cases are slam-dunks for the prosecutor, and sometimes what appears to be inconsequential evidence can make or break your case.

Step Four: Decide between a trial or plea bargain

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and you don’t have to decide immediately. It’s best to analyze all the evidence and potential consequences first, which is where an experienced DUI attorney comes in handy.

Advantages of a jury trial include a clean record, immediate return of your license, as well as the avoidance of fines, classes, and increased insurance rates. Disadvantages include a substantial investment of time and money (plus the obvious added stress), and no guarantee of the consequences you will receive if you lose.

If you take a plea bargain, you’ll save time and money and your consequences won’t be a surprise. However, taking a plea (which, to be clear, is admitting guilt) will mean dings on your record, fines, etc. A DUI record can even prevent travel to Canada.

Step Five: Get new auto insurance

Unless you won a jury trial, there’s a good chance your insurance provider will terminate your policy after a DUI conviction. But you must have insurance if you plan on driving post-suspension, and luckily there are carriers out there who sell to people with DUI records—at a steep cost.

Whatever you do, don’t let that insurance lapse. If you miss a payment or fail to renew on time, your insurance carrier is required by law to notify the state—which will then suspend your license faster than you can say “but the check’s in the mail!”

Step Six: Don’t drink and drive!

This is obvious, but we’re only human and everyone makes mistakes. If you happen to make another one involving drinking and driving, call Salmu Law for a consultation. Because if you think the consequences of your first DUI are steep, you’ll definitely need a lawyer for DUI #2.

A DUI is a serious charge, and it could affect the rest of your life.

If you or someone you know is in need of a DUI attorney, give us a call at Salmu Law. We are highly experienced in representing San Diego drivers who have been charged with DUI, and our involvement has resulted in dismissed charges in a number of prior cases. We could make all the difference in your case, too. Call or fill out the form on our website for a free case evaluation.