A DUI arrest can be scary. Police hand you a stack of papers. They take your driver’s license and replace it with a piece of paper, they give you a court date, they may have towed your car. The next few weeks will be full of things to do related to your arrest. This guide will answer the most common questions we hear from people recently arrested for DUI.
I was not taken to jail, was I arrested?
Yes. You received a “paper arrest.” The officer gave you a citation with a court date. That is an arrest. Not all arrests require a trip to the county jail.
What happens to my license?
The officer probably took your license and handed you a piece of paper called the “admin per se.” This is your temporary license and notice of a license suspension. If you do nothing, your license will be suspended 15 days after the arrest. That license suspension will last 90 days or 1 year, depending on if you consented to the breath or blood test. Read more about the MVD consequences of a DUI here.
You need to request a hearing within 15 days to fight or delay the license suspension. If you hire a lawyer during that time, the lawyer can request the hearing for you.
If you continue to drive after your license has been suspended, you can be charged with driving on a suspended license – another misdemeanor offense. If you get a DUI while driving with a suspended license from a prior DUI charge, the new DUI charge will be a felony punishable by a minimum of 4 months in prison.
Can I get my car back?
Sometimes police will impound a car following a DUI arrest. That impound may be as short as 24 hours or as long as 30 days. If you have a 24 hour impound, simply wait the 24 hours and then go pick up your car. Be sure to bring ID. If your car was impounded for 30 days, you need to wait 30 days before you can pick it up. However, if someone else is on the title for your car, that person can go and pick up your car. You must have a valid license to get your car. So if your license was suspended, as mentioned above, you will not be able to get your car out of impound. You’ll need to take someone else with you who does have a valid license to get your car.
What happens in court?
You will have a court date in approximately 2-4 weeks following the arrest. This first court date is called an arraignment. It is the time for the Judge to advise you of the charges against you, for you to enter your plea of not guilty, and to request a public defender if you want one (or are eligible for one). The Judge will give you a new court date in approximately 30 days. Between the arraignment and the next court date, the prosecutor should provide disclosure (police reports, audio, video, etc.) to your lawyer.
If you hire a lawyer, you do not need to go to the arraignment.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer is a personal and financial decision you will have to make. I always suggest you at least meet with a lawyer to talk about your case. I also always suggest that you get a lawyer – whether it be one you hire or a public defender. There are a lot of issues in a DUI case, and it is a good idea to have an experienced lawyer guide you through them.
One thing to keep in mind is that a public defender cannot help you with the MVD/license suspension portion of your case, but a lawyer you hire can.
You can read more about picking a DUI lawyer here.