While there are repeat offenders, the average driving under the influence (DUI) defendant is an otherwise law-abiding citizen who had a lapse in judgment and ended up under arrest. That means that the average DUI defendant also knows very little about the offense for which he/she is charged in particular and about the criminal justice system in general. If you were recently arrested and charged with DUI, that means you may have a number of questions. To help you better understand your situation, a DUI lawyer answers some common questions.
- Do I need a lawyer? Ultimately, it is your decision whether or not to hire an attorney; however, there are a number of reasons why you should consider doing so. Hiring a lawyer ensures that you understand your rights and that those rights are protected. It also ensures that any possible defense available in your case is explored, and used if applicable to prevent a conviction that may have long-lasting negative consequences.
- I refused the breath test. What will happen as a result? If the officer believes you refused the chemical test your license will be taken and your driving privileges will be administratively revoked. You have a right to contest the revocation but you must do so quickly. If your license is revoked, that period of revocation is in addition to any period of revocation you are sentenced to if you are ultimately convicted of DUI.
- I took the breath test and failed. Does that mean I will be convicted? Although the police officer and the prosecuting attorney will make it seem as though a conviction is inevitable, it is not. To begin with, a breath test machine is far from infallible. On the contrary, breath test machines produce inaccurate results for a variety of reasons, including failure to properly calibrate the machine and improperly administration of the test. Moreover, there are actual defenses to an allegation of DUI even if you failed the chemical test. The “Rising Alcohol Level” defense is a perfect example. This defense essentially argues that although you did produce a result that was over the limit at the time you performed the breath test, you were under the limit at the time you were actually operating the vehicle, meaning you are not guilty of driving under the influence.
- Did the officer need an actual reason to stop me? The simple answer is “yes.” Legally speaking, an officer is required to have a legitimate reason for making any traffic stop. Randomly stopping motorists in an effort to check for possible drunk drivers is not acceptable. Pretextual stops, however, are legal. A pretextual stop is one in which the officer uses a minor traffic violation, such as a malfunctioning light or failure to signal a lane change, as the reason for the stop when, in reality, the officer does suspect the motorist is driving under the influence. The officer is still required to have the requisite probable cause to continue to detain a motorist though after the initial reason for the stop has concluded.
- What will happen if I’m convicted? An attorney cannot tell you with certainty what your sentence will be; however, if it is a first-time DUI without aggravating circumstances you will likely receive a suspended sentence along with a period of probation. The terms of that probation can vary. In addition, your license will be administratively suspended as a result of your initial arrest and you could receive an additional period of revocation for a conviction. You may qualify for a special type of restricted license known as an Ignition Interlock Permit that requires you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Your DUI lawyer can help you obtain your restricted license and may be able to negotiate a reduced period of revocation.
Contact an Omaha DUI Lawyer at Petersen Criminal Defense Law
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the State of Nebraska, it is always in your best interest to consult directly with an experienced Nebraska DUI lawyer about the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Contact the Omaha DUI defense lawyers at Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-909-0346 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.