One of the most common arrests made in Indiana and throughout the country is for driving under the influence. It can be committed by any driver of any type of vehicle who has had too much to drink or taken medications that have caused them to be impaired. As it is such a common criminal charge, there are frequent questions and misconceptions when it comes to DUI cases. This weeks blog takes a look at some of them.
1. If I get stopped after having drank alcohol, I should refuse to cooperate with the investigation: This is a common misconception that may make sense in a few limited circumstances, but most of the time it does not. If you have no prior convictions for DUI a refusal to cooperate is a bad idea in most circumstances. If you refuse to do field sobriety tests then the prosecutor will say that you knew you would fail, so that is why you didn’t take them, plus, if you do well on them, they may actually help your case. The bigger consequence comes if you refuse the breath alcohol test. If you refuse to take the certified breath test, then your license will be suspended for 1 year for refusing the test. On top of that, in many jurisdictions now, the police will just get a warrant and take your blood. So now, they have the result from the test, and your license is still suspended for a year. If you have prior arrests for DUI, it may make sense to not cooperate further with an investigation, but that will depend on your particular circumstances.
2. I blew above a .08 all hope is lost: Not necessarily. Obviously .08 it the legal limit and testing above it is not a good thing for your case. However, breath test instruments are not without shortcomings. Your BAC may have been different at the time you were actually driving the vehicle. The instrument makes assumptions which may not be accurate. Further, the agency that calibrates the instruments may have records that will establish that there has been an issue with the testing equipment.
3. My license was suspended when I got arrested, how quickly can I get it back: That is a good question under Indiana’s new law, you are eligible to get your license back immediately when you plead guilty, depending on the discretion of the prosecutor and the judge. Prior to July 1, 2014 you had to have your license on a first offense DUI suspended for a period of at least 90 days or for 30 days followed by a 180 day probationary suspension. Since the new law has come into effect, the prosecutors have the discretion to give it back to you immediately upon pleading for cases where the date of arrest was after July 1, 2014. It is assumed by many, that the prosecutors will follow the old practice of 90 or 30/180 on license suspensions, but given a hardship, they now have the option of giving it back immediately.
4. I know I passed my field sobriety tests, I could tell so while I was doing them: Probably not the case. If you were arrested, you likely failed most if not all of the standardized field sobriety tests. The eye test is looking for an involuntary jerking of the eye, something you would have no idea your eye is even doing. The other two tests, the one leg stand and the walk and turn both have clues that are very technical and can easily result in a failure of the test, even though it may feel and even look like you did well on them. Most jurisdictions now have dashboard cameras that will allow for the physical portions of your field sobriety tests to be viewed and even re-scored at a later date.
5. Now that I got a DUI I probably won’t be able to get car insurance: Not true. It is possible, depending on your carrier, that your current carrier may or may not keep you as a client. However, many different insurance companies provide the SR-22 car insurance that is required after a DUI. If you get a DUI shop around, you may find that the insurance is not even that much more than what you are paying now.
6. I got a DUI, I will plead and just go back to my life the way it was: Not so fast. In most counties, you will be on probation and will not be allowed to drink or possess alcohol for a period of 1 year. This means no more game day beers for a while. Probation will likely also include an alcohol assessment along with possible treatment if recommended.
7. I have to do 1 year probation, that will be terrible: In most jurisdictions a first time offender with a DUI will be considered low risk. This means that your obligations in terms of having to report, provide drug samples, or otherwise engage with your probation officer are likely to be minimal.
8. How expensive is my DUI going to be: Pretty expensive. You have court costs, countermeasure fees, fine, probation user fees, probation monthly fees and attorney fees. You can expect to be paying anywhere from $1500 to $2500 depending on the circumstances.
9. I’ve only had two beers I should be fine to drive: That was probably the case back in the day when bars served only light beers by the bottle. However, your craft beer that is 6% alcohol and served in a 24 ounce glass is not like having two miller lights. Two craft beers in a 24 ounce glass is more like having several glasses of wing. If you have drank 2 beers in a larger than 12 ounce glass, better to be safe than sorry and take a cab or hit up Uber.
10. It is my first offense DUI, I should be able to get the plead down to something else: Not necessarily. Most jurisdictions are pretty tough on DUI in general. There are a couple of jurisdictions that will “cut a break” to a first time offender. However, most jurisdictions will require an attorney to show extenuating circumstances or problems with the state’s case.
Banks & Brower is a law firm located on the north side of Indianapolis with a satellite office in Fishers/Noblesville. Should you be arrested for DUI or any other criminal matter, give the Indianapolis DUI attorneys at Banks & Brower a call at 317-870-0019.