Hopefully you’ve never been in this situation — but you get into your car after having one too many drinks at the bar. You’re driving home, and everything looks tilted. It becomes difficult to keep your eyes open as the alcohol takes over your vision and impairs your judgment. Suddenly, there’s a car in front of you — one that seems to have come out of nowhere. You hit on your brakes, but your reaction time is too slow, and you crash your car. The police show up, and now what? What do you do if you are arrested for drunk driving?
This is the reality of what happens when you decide to get behind the wheel after a night of drinking. And this scenario is also a major and life-changing accident waiting to happen.
If your car collides with another vehicle, object, or building, and you happen to get arrested, here’s what you need to know about your rights and what’s going to happen to you next.
Whether you want to scare yourself straight, or you’re just curious as to what happens to someone after a tragic drunk driving accident, read on.
Step One: The Arrest
If you are arrested for drunk driving for the first time, you may not know what to expect.
They will handcuff you, read you your rights, and lead you towards the back of the cop car. Do not resist arrest, even though you have liquid courage coursing through your veins. You’ll be taken to a police station next.
Alternatively, you may have been pulled over if an officer has reasonable cause. For example, if you run a stop sign or a red light and they pull you over and smell alcohol on your breath, they may ask you to do a breathalyzer test to examine the amount of alcohol in your system.
They may also question you and ask whether you’ve had anything to drink within the last few hours. Answer honestly, and cooperate if they ask you to step out of your vehicle.
The officers will look for signs of impairment. They may perform field tests such as:
- the horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- the one-legged stand test
- the walk and turn test
If they have enough reasonable cause to take you in, they will alert you that you are under arrest, read you your rights, handcuff you, and walk you towards the back of their police car.
Step Two: Chemical Testing
In all 50 states there are laws called implied content laws. These require you to submit a sample of urine or blood to test your BAC (blood alcohol content) at the time you are pulled over. If you refuse, you will face certain consequences such as:
- license suspension
- hefty fines
- having to install an IID or ignition interlock device onto your car so that you can no longer drive it
Step Three: The Station
The police will then take you to a station where you are fingerprinted and scanned. You may be held there until you can post bail. A bail bond agent may be able to loan you the amount you need to get home after your run-in with the law, as not many people will have the total amount upfront.
Finding a Bailbond Agent
Finding a bailbond agent isn’t hard when you’re equipped with the right knowledge — so educate yourself on the matter. First, learn how much money you will need. The judge appointed to your case will set the proper amount in accordance with the severity of the crime. Then, ask around for suggestions. Usually, the detention officers can point you in the right direction. You can also do your own research online to find a reputable bail bonding company.
Step Four: Getting Charged
There are three types of DUIs that law enforcement can charge you with. This can depend on a variety of different factors, but your criminal history is one of the largest. A first offense or Class B misdemeanor can warrant a license suspension of 90 days to a full year, as well as a $2000 fine, and jail time.
A second offense or class A misdemeanor can cause you to lose your license for up to two years. You may also have to pay a fine equivalent to $4000 and spend up to a year in prison.
Lastly, a third offense or third-degree felony can send you to prison for up to ten years, and not to mention you may have to pay a fine adding up to the grand total of $10,000.
At this point, you may need to look for a car accident attorney.
Step Five: Taking Action and Preparing for Your Court Date
Now you’re probably wondering what you should do about your DUI or DWI. How will it affect your future and freedom?
You’re going to need to take direct action if you get arrested for drunk driving, so hire a drunk driving lawyer before your court date.
Alternately, if you were injured in the accident, search for a qualified team of injury attorneys.
Need help with this step? Consider these tips when seeking a lawyer if you are arrested for drunk driving.
Steps for Finding a Drunk Driving Lawyer
Once you’re back at home, look into finding a drunk driver lawyer by the time you’re due to appear in court. There are several online, so try to meet with each attorney in person if you have the time. Finding a lawyer well versed in this specific branch of law is valuable as they can get the case dropped or dismissed, allowing you to walk out of the courthouse a free person.
Step Six: Serving Your Time
If you are arrested for drunk driving and found guilty, prepare to serve your sentence.
If you’re a minor convicted of this crime, you will likely perform community service as your penalty.
Step Seven: Repairing the Damage
Drunk driving is no joke. If you come out unscathed, with nothing more than a fine to pay or jail time, count yourself lucky. Other people who choose to get behind the wheel won’t get the chance to clean up their mess.
Once you’re done with your conviction and have served your time, take your car to your mechanic for collision repair to finally push the thoughts of your arrest out for good.
Things to Avoid When Getting into a Drunk Driving Accident or Getting Pulled Over
Of course, there are several things you should avoid when getting pulled over for driving under the influence. If you happen to crash into something, do not drive off. Even if no one was around to report it to the police.
Exit your car immediately, and call the police. It’s best to turn yourself over now before getting into your car to cause even more damage.
Don’t Drink and Drive
If all of these consequences sound overwhelming to you, the solution is simple. Under no circumstances should you drink and drive. This is reckless, and a surefire way of injuring yourself, others, and public property. Not to mention, you may go to prison.
It’s not worth it!
Here are ways you can prioritize your life as well as the lives of other drivers on the road.
Phone a Friend
No matter how late it is, a true friend will not become angry with you for calling them when you have no other options.
Have a Designated Driver at the Bar With You
If you’re going out drinking with a group of friends, draw straws to appoint a designated driver who will drive everyone home at the end of the evening.
Call a Cab or Use a Rideshare App
Calling a ride is one of the best ways you can ensure that you get home safely. You won’t have to worry about leaving your car at the bar.
The Laws in Major States
Drunk driving laws and penalties can vary from state to state, so here’s what to expect from each major state in the country.
In Texas, a person is legally under the influence when you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. If you are arrested for drunk driving in Texas, call your lawyer immediately. You might even have to pay a $500 dollar fine for having an open container in your car.
In California the laws differ if you are arrested for drunk driving. A first offense may cause you to spend 48 hours in jail and have to pay a $2000 fine.
If you are arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, prepare to spend another grand on your car insurance, as a DUI on your record forces you to pay a surcharge. Find a good lawyer and bail bond agent, as you don’t want to have to trade your valuables and sell gold to post your own bail. You can pay up to $500 in fines.
How Will You Know if You’re Good to Drive?
If you only had a couple of drinks in you, it’s natural to assume that you’ll be sober enough to drive within the hour. But are you?
A good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Often, people think that if they drink coffee, take a cold shower, eat some greasy food, or go to the bathroom a sufficient amount of times that the alcohol will leave their bodies faster. However, these have all been proven to be myths. Waiting an adequate amount of time is the only way alcohol properly leaves your bloodstream.
Therefore, if you want to determine whether or not it’s safe to drive, do the math.
Alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream at about 0.015 per hour, so pinpoint what time you started drinking to conclude whether you’re fine to drive or not.
The Risks of Drunk Driving
If you are arrested for drunk driving, this can go on your permanent record. You can lose your license, making it forever difficult to run errands on your own or drive yourself to work.
If it hasn’t been drilled into your head enough, understand the risks of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Perhaps it can save you from making a life-altering mistake.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, this can be the least of your worries.
Many people may end up in a life-ending collision. Your reaction time is dramatically altered, so accidents that you may be able to avoid when sober, become deadly after a few drinks.
Permanent Brain Damage
Severe accidents can also lead to permanent brain damage if you happen to swerve into a car or building while driving back home.
You Can Total Your Car
You can also cause permanent damage to your vehicle if you swerve off the asphalt.
You Risk Breaking a Family Apart
This heartbreaking scenario can also break families apart — yours or a complete stranger’s.
If you are arrested for drunk driving before injuring yourself or others, consider this a blessing in disguise and a lesson to learn from.
You May Leave the Accident Paralyzed
Falling into a coma, or leaving the accident paralyzed from the waist down are two real and frightening possibilities.
Take your fate into your own hands and call a cab.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, now you know what to expect when getting pulled over. However, under no circumstances should you ever get behind the wheel after living it up and taking your fair share of shots. There are other ways you can get home safely and responsibly.
Take these tips with you if you ever find yourself in this situation, but hopefully, you’ll use your better judgment and keep the roads as safe as possible.