There are few worse ways to end an evening than with an arrest for a DUI. Whatever the particular circumstances of your DUI arrest might have been, and regardless of whether you thought the police officer was fair in making the arrest, the situation anyone arrested for DUI is always the same: you face serious consequences if convicted for your DUI. This can include jail time, expensive fines and court costs, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your car, and skyrocketing insurance rates that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the years. You will also have a criminal record, which can impact your career, reputation, and participation in any activities that involves a background check.

But remember: an arrest is not conviction, and you are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. Thus, there are post-arrest steps you can take to help maximize your chances for avoiding the expensive, difficult, and long-lasting effects of a DUI conviction. Below are five things you need to do if you are arrested for a DUI in California.

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney

Really, all five things you need to do can be summarized as this one step. You might want to save a few bucks by going without an attorney on your side, but the risks of doing so are steep indeed. According to the DMV, a DUI conviction can run you in total north of $45,000, and that doesn’t include lost income or career potential due to jail time or a criminal record. A good, experienced DUI attorney knows how to best fight a DUI conviction and will take every step necessary to fight for your rights.

Request a License Suspension Hearing with the DMV

After you have retained an attorney, your attorney will work with you to contact the DMV and request a hearing to avoid having your license automatically suspended. If this is not done within 10 calendar days of your arrest, then the DMV will automatically suspend your license for at least four months. Your attorney will take care of all matters relating to scheduling and attending your DMV hearing on your behalf.

Obtain All Police Records Related to Your Arrest

The next step is to have your attorney obtain all police records related to your arrest. These records should include any records related to the reason for which you were stopped, the manner in which you were stopped, the responses you provided to the officer’s questions, and any pieces of evidence supporting your arrest, such as breathalyzer tests, slurred speech, erratic driving, blood tests, or other alleged facts.

Work With Your Attorney to Determine Your Options

After your attorney has assessed the evidence against you and investigated the stop, including getting your side of the story and any other evidence available, your attorney can work with you to assess your best options for avoiding penalties. For example, your attorney may be able to challenge the constitutionality of the officer’s stop of your vehicle or the sufficiency of the evidence against you. Your attorney may also suggest negotiating with the prosecutor for a lesser charge (i.e. a “wet reckless”) or lesser penalties for any charges brought.

Have Your Attorney Defend You in Court

Once you and your attorney have agreed on a strategy, your attorney will appear at your DUI hearing to provide you with the best defense possible and work towards a dismissal of your DUI charges, a not guilty verdict, or a reduction in penalties.

Work with an Experienced Attorney in Your California DUI Defense

Orange County criminal defense attorney Bart Kaspero works with individuals across Southern California to help challenge DUI prosecutions and reduce or dismiss charges. Contact his office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.

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About the Author: Bart Kaspero

Bart Kaspero is an experienced criminal defense and regulatory attorney who has focused on using technology and the law in bringing privacy to criminal records. His research has been published in several legal journals and his unique background has helped a broad spectrum of clients. He has provided legal training to lawyers across the US on how to navigate complex criminal record legislation and how to effectively provide privacy to those with past arrests, charges, and convictions. His innovative methods have earned him a top position of authority on the subject of criminal record privacy as well as trust within the criminal data supply chain.