1. Do not ignore your DUI case.
You not only risk losing your license and jail time, but you will probably also have to pay higher insurance premiums, risk losing your job, jeopardize your credit, and you can even be refused a rental car.
2. Do not represent yourself.
The officer has extensive training to testify to get a conviction against you. The prosecutor is probably more educated than you and likely has more experience in court than you do. Representing yourself will likely result in a conviction and a harsh punishment.
3. Do not wait until the last minute to contact a DUI attorney.
It is very important to contact a DUI attorney as soon as you can. There are some important deadlines that may affect the outcome of your case. Your attorney needs time to prepare for your case. Giving him only a few days will negatively impact your defense compared to months to fully investigate your case.
Additionally, he may be in court and unable to discuss your case with you. The DUI attorney will want to be paid before making an entry of appearance in your case (an entry of appearance binds him to make court appearances on your behalf). If you talk to a DUI attorney right after you were arrested, you will at least have some time to come up with his fee. Keep in mind that hiring a DUI attorney will not guarantee a win, but will substantially increase your probability for an acquittal or other positive outcome to your DUI case like a dismissal.
4. Forget to request a hearing from the Georgia Department of Public Safety within 10 business days
If you either refused to take an alcohol test, or took the test and had an unlawful blood alcohol level, you only have 10 days to request administrative license suspension hearing. If you do not request a hearing, your driver’s license may be suspended for one to five years before you even go to court on your DUI. If you do request the hearing, you at least have a fighting chance to keep driving until your DUI case comes to court. Some DUI attorneys will include this in their fee, others will charge you extra.
5. Fail to hire a lawyer who handles DUI cases.
DUI law is the most complicated area of criminal law and you need to hire a DUI attorney who knows all the ins and outs of DUI practice. Relying on someone who takes any case that comes in the door is hiring someone that knows enough to be dangerous (to you).
Along the same lines, you shouldn’t take legal advice from a friend or acquaintance who has had a prior DUI case.
Would you hire someone to perform heart surgery just because they had recently had open heart surgery? I wouldn’t. I suggest that you find someone that is experienced in heart surgery. I also suggest you should find a DUI attorney to help you with your DUI case.
6. Do not miss a court appearance unless your DUI attorney tells you that you are excused.
Not only will the judge issue a warrant for your arrest, but the bond you posted will be forfeited and you will most likely sit in jail until your case is called for trial. The prosecutor knows this and may tighten the screws to get a conviction against you. Your license will be suspended if you fail to appear in court when you were supposed to be there.
7. Do not rely on your mother’s friend who knows the DA or Judge.
DUIs are very controversial. DAs and Judges are elected officials. This means that they probably won’t go light on your DUI case. They don’t want to be seen as easy on such a hot button topic. It isn’t likely that “your mother’s friend who knows a DA or judge who can get your case dismissed” routine will work.
8. If you were in an accident, do not talk to your insurance company before consulting with an attorney.
Your insurance policy likely requires that you inform the company immediately. However, any conversation you have with a company agent IS NOT a privileged communication. In other words, it may be used against you in court. What should you do? Contact the company immediately as you a supposed to do, but don’t give a statement until you have consulted with an attorney first.
9. Do not try to save money by negotiating your own plea.
What seems like a good deal may be a prescription for disaster. If you get tickets in addition to your DUI ticket, one or more of the other charges could also be a license suspension violation on top of your DUI. Even worse, depending upon your record, one or more of the other charges could put points on your driving history or make you a Habitual Violator. Saving all that money could result in the loss of your driver’s license for five years.