For many people, a first DUI arrest is also their first encounter with the criminal justice system. The traffic stop, arrest, and consequences you face immediately after a DUI charge can be confusing. This is why it is essential to have a skilled and experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney by your side if you’ve been charged with DUI.
Call attorney Michael O’Meara at O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how he can help you.
DUI Traffic Stop
Your DUI will likely start with a traffic stop. For one reason or another, a law enforcement officer will pull you over and begin asking questions. Something about your behavior, appearance, or smell may give the officer reason to believe you are intoxicated. Once this happens, he or she will likely ask you to submit to a field sobriety test or a roadside breathalyzer test. While you are allowed to refuse these tests, your refusal will almost always result in an arrest and additional penalties.
A DUI traffic stop can be scary. You may be confused and unsure of what to do. The most important step is to remain calm. Give the officer your driver’s license and answer necessary questions, but do not say too much. Everything you say may be used against you in court later. Follow directions and contact a Chicago DUI attorney as quickly as possible.
The DUI Arrest
When the officer arrests you, he or she must read you your Miranda rights – an explanation of your rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer. These are rights that every criminal suspect should use. Remaining silent guarantees that the prosecutor won’t be able to twist your words and use them against you. Hiring a lawyer ensures that there will be a buffer between you and the authorities, and that your case will benefit from a thorough and strategic defense.
Once you’re under arrest, the police will ask you to submit to a chemical test. The result of this test will be used as evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence. You have a constitutional right to refuse these tests, but your refusal will result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
If you refuse the chemical or breathalyzer test, or if you fail to pass these tests, you will be charged with DUI. If you, a friend, or a family member cannot post bail, you may have to wait for your trial in jail. Any time you spend behind bars between your arrest and trial may be counted towards the jail sentence you might receive should you be found guilty of DUI.
Automatic Driver’s License Suspension
If you refuse or fail to pass the chemical test, the police will give you notice that your driver’s license will be suspended in 46 days. This suspension will occur independently of your DUI case, after which you may receive a further driver’s license suspension as a criminal penalty. The length of your administrative driver’s license suspension will vary:
- 6 months for a BAC of .08 or higher
- 1 year if you refused the chemical or breathalyzer test
- 1 year if you failed the test and you have a previous DUI conviction
- 3 years if you refused the test and had a prior DUI conviction
You will have 90 days from your arrest to request a hearing regarding your administrative license suspension. If your lawyer can demonstrate that the police acted improperly or that you were not actually intoxicated, the court may rescind your license suspension.
Contact a Chicago DUI Lawyer For Help
If you are facing a DUI charge, you may be unsure of where to turn. An experienced Chicago DUI lawyer can help you. See our next blog to find out what will happen in court after your first DUI. If you have any questions, contact Michael O’Meara at O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706.