Lots of people get DUIs/DWAIs, and you don’t need to be an experienced criminal defense attorney to know that’s the reality. More than 26,000 people in Colorado are arrested for DUI each year. So when I say “lots,” I mean lots. It happens, and it has happened to a fair share of people that I know and deeply respect.
People can move on from mistakes they’ve made in the past, and the same is true of most DUIs. But making additional mistakes in the days following an arrest can make getting beyond it that much more difficult. Over my many years practicing criminal law across the Front Range, I’ve really seen it all. But here are some of the more common, frequently made mistakes that have held my clients back from putting a DUI/DWAI arrest behind them.
Call an Attorney on the way to the DMV
One of the biggest mistakes I see clients make is waiting to contact me until a few weeks after they’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI/DWAI. At this point, my informing them that they only had seven days from the date of arrest to request an Express Consent Hearing at the DMV doesn’t go over very well.
People have a tendency to think that all aspects of their DUI/DWAI case will be handled at the same time and in the same place, but some circumstances necessitate separate hearings: an administrative DMV hearing and the court hearing. Both hearings involve your rights and obligations, so getting a jump on things and calling an attorney right after the arrest is the only way to go.
Don’t You Dare Think about Driving Without a Valid License and Insurance. Seriously.
I know exactly how the internal dialogue goes:
“I don’t have a valid license, but what are the chances that I get pulled over between here and the grocery store down the street? Probably pretty slim, I mean … the weather is great, traffic isn’t bad, my registration is up to date, I don’t have any blown lights cracks in the windshield … I don’t think I have anything to worry about, but I won’t get in the habit of doing this.”
Now, it might be that the odds of you getting pulled over during a short trip are pretty low, but the point is that you never know. Very little of what happens on the road is actually within your complete control. Other drivers, weather, pedestrians, road conditions, the four horsemen of the apocalypse—any number of factors can lead to an incident that may not be your fault but will land you with a Driving Under Restraint offense and likely will negatively impact your underlying DUI/DWAI case.
Plus, it’s a slippery slope. After driving once or twice without incident, you find yourself several days later (and several “It worked out fine last time” internal reassurances later), and the odds quickly start working against you. It’s just best to not drive.
Start Considering the Non-Legal Aspects of Your DUI/DWAI Charge
Most of my clients in the early stages of their DUI/DWAI case are consumed by the legal and financial aspects of their DUI/DWAI charge, and understandably so. But there are a number of non-legal issues that I have clients start working through right away, which often benefits them down the road.
Seeking out support and help for the underlying substance use issue—from friends, family, community groups—can go a long way in showing the judge that you are sorry for getting behind the wheel and serious about not repeating the incident. I also encourage clients who know they are going to take a plea deal to consider the potential sentencing guidelines, and then identify community service opportunities and alcohol treatment programs which would be best for them. Insurance may even cover some extensive treatment for addiction.
Proactively engaging in these efforts in advance can go a long way in showing the court that you are thoughtful and accepting of the consequences of your actions. I know from personal experience that judges are often persuaded by defendants who have undertaken help and pursued remediative measures prior to sentencing. Seeking treatment in advance can even shorten the length of any probation sentence!
Always keep the name of a DUI attorney on hand: Justie for Justice
Making any of these mistakes, or a host of others that I frequently see with DUI clients, can certainly extend the consequences of a DUI conviction. Nevertheless, you can move beyond these, too. But having a DUI attorney can help you avoid obstacles in the days following a DUI. That way you can get back on your feet and back behind the wheel as a responsible (and legal) driver ASAP.
I bring a unique background to my DUI/DWAI defense practice. Before opening Nicol Gersch Petterson Offices, LLC, I prosecuted DUI/DWAI cases and other criminal offenses as a Deputy District Attorney. I know from experience how these cases play out, what to expect in a variety of circumstances, and how to minimize the consequences of a charge and conviction. Keep my contact information close, so that if you need help, I can be there ASAP: (970) 670-0738 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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