DUIs that we see on TV or in movies all look pretty similar. The drunk driver is pulled over. A policeman asks him to step out of the car and perform a sobriety test. If he fails, he’s put in a cop car and taken away.
That’s usually when the cameras cut to the next scene, leaving us in the dark about what happens to our hero when he arrives at the station. What does he say? What does he do?
And, most importantly – how should he act to avoid the devastating consequences of a DUI charge?
Knowing what to do when you get a DUI in Montana is important. A DUI charge can result in hefty fines, inconvenient license suspension, and jail time up to 1 year.
By following these three easy steps, you can protect your rights and minimize the impact of this stressful process.
1. Get Bailed Out.
You will likely be in jail when you receive the actual ticket. Do not say anything to the officer. Do not discuss the case. The less you say to the police, the less evidence they have against you.
There’s no amazing thing you could say to make them take the ticket back. The damage is already done. It’s best to say nothing and move forward. Just accept the ticket.
At your earliest opportunity, open the phonebook to find a bail bondsman such as Grizzly Bail Bonds in Missoula. A bail bondsman will bail you out in a short amount of time, so you can begin preparing for your court date. This brings us to step two…
2. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately.
Do you really want to show up to court alone? Of course not. After you’ve bailed out, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Most DUI charges occur late at night, so you may need to wait until the next weekday morning.
The best private defense attorneys will offer a free, no obligation consultation. During the consultation, he or she will listen to the facts of your case and get a general idea of the weight of the evidence against you.
Once you have provided all the evidence, including the police video, your attorney can begin representing you immediately, before you show up to court for the first time.
With an attorney next to you, you can be assured that you will have the least restrictive bail conditions for your release and any technicality defenses you have for your case can begin to be explored. Time is very important to a defense attorney so don’t wait.
3. Get On the Wagon.
Getting out of jail may feel like a cause to celebrate by kicking a few back. Don’t do it. A standard bail condition for anyone accused of a DUI is to not possess or consume any alcohol. This includes paying a visit to your local dive bar. This is non-negotiable. Whether you are guilty or not, you must not indulge in alcohol or visit any bars.
During this time, it is a good idea to get any alcohol out of your house. It is just too tempting. Give it to someone or just get rid of it. Don’t think hiding it in your house is good enough, it has to be completely out of your ability to find. Let your friends know you aren’t going to make it to the bar. Reschedule any dinner dates or nights on the town. You have too much to lose.
Once you’re free and have started working with a good defense attorney, you’ll want to start going to AA meetings. Contact the local Montana AA office that’s closest to you and find a group that meets regularly. Keep a log of all the meetings you attend.
Are you an alcoholic? Thats not for me to say. However, going to AA after you’ve been accused of a DUI sends a powerful message to the prosecutor and judge. It lets them know that you take the charge seriously, and are trying to help prevent another incident by taking care of yourself. Months down the line this may make a real difference between you receiving a reduced charge or not.
Having this information at your disposal will make you more prepared for your DUI court hearing than most people. But if you still have questions on the DUI process, leave me a comment.
Need a defense attorney ASAP to help with your DUI hearing? Contact me for a free consultation.
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.