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DUIs 101: What You Need to Know Before, During, and After a Stop

If you drink and drive, there's a potential that you're putting both yourself and others in harm's way. It's no surprise, then, that the law takes a dim view of this action. If you are involved in a DUI, though, you still deserve the full protection of the law. That means knowing not only what's going to happen during the initial stop, but both what happens in the lead-up to the incident and what will happen next. If you want to successfully navigate the process, possessing this knowledge will be absolutely vital.

Before the DUI

The process of dealing with a DUI starts before you ever get in a vehicle. It's important that you know the law and how it can impact you so that you can make informed decisions. Before you order more drinks, it's wise to stop and think about both what you might face when you decide to go home and what could happen if you choose to drive on your own instead of getting a ride.

BAC and Drinking

Most states use an individual's blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine whether or not the individual meets the criteria for a DUI charge. It's important for you to remember that while the amount that a person drinks can have an impact on his or her BAC, there's not a set number of drinks that you can have without crossing that line. Your blood alcohol content can rise based on your size, weight, what you've had to eat that day, and even your metabolism. As such, it's entirely possible for you to drink and be under the limit one day, and then be back over the limit after drinking the same amount in the future.

More than BAC

Your blood alcohol content is not all that matters when you are pulled over. It's incredibly important to remember that the danger of driving while intoxicated is that doing so will impair your ability to drive safely. It doesn't matter if your BAC is a point or two below the legal limit if you are weaving in and out of traffic or if you are conducting other dangerous maneuvers while driving. Police officers are just as likely to bring you up on charges if you are driving dangerously as they are if you have an elevated BAC.

During the Stop

The bulk of what will define your future with a DUI does happen during the initial stop. It's very important that you conduct yourself in a reasonable manner during the stop and that you pay attention to what's required of you. What occurs during this stop will not only determine whether or not you go to jail, but it will also have a huge impact on both the charges that are brought against you and what might happen when you go to court for a DUI charge.

Know the Law

Many states have very strict laws when it comes to complying with the various DUI tests. If you refuse to comply with the testing procedures, it's possible that your drivers' license could be immediately revoked or suspended. With that said, it's possible that getting a revoked drivers' license will have less of an impact on your life than taking a test at the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, making the right decision on this matter is difficult when you are impaired. It is good, though, to have a plan for what you will do if you are stopped in the future.

Pay Attention to Your Rights

You do still have rights when you are stopped for DUI. You have the same rights not to incriminate yourself and you certainly have a right to contact your attorney. Be as polite and cooperative as possible, but don't put yourself in a situation where your rights will be violated. If you decide to comply with the testing, do so but do not volunteer any other information. If you are charged, make sure that you have the number of your attorney available so you can immediately contact him or her.

Your Actions Matter

If you are pulled over for a DUI, it's usually a good idea to be as compliant as possible. Most police officers take potential DUIs very seriously, so make sure to do so as well. Your goal is to not escalate the situation any further than necessary and to protect yourself as well as you can. Gather your identification and insurance materials just as you would for any other traffic stop and be prepared to wait things out if necessary. With any luck, you'll be able to contact a friend to take you home instead of being taken to jail.

After the DUI

Once you have been charged with the DUI, your life will change. A DUI is not a charge that simply goes away and it is certainly not something that you will be able to fight on your own. The long-term consequences of a DUI can be far more severe than you might expect, putting both your livelihood and your living situation in danger. If you are charged, it's important that you take a few basic steps in order to prepare yourself for the future.

Get an Attorney

The most important thing you can do after being charged with a DUI is choosing to call a lawyer. You'll need a lawyer to both examine your situation and to provide you with a zealous defense if you go to trial. Lawyers who specialize in DUI cases like the DUI Queen not only know the laws surrounding drinking and driving, but they also understand how the crime is prosecuted in court. A good attorney may not always be able to ensure that you escape the consequences of your actions, but he or she will help to make sure that the trial is conducting fairly.

Know the Consequences

DUI consequences vary from state to state. Most states are at least somewhat more lenient on first-time offenders, but even those individuals can expect to have their licenses suspended, to pay fines, and possibly even to spend some time in jail. Individuals who have been through the system more than once are more than likely to spend time in jail, especially if a person or property was injured. Even if you don't go to jail, you may have to deal with having a professional license revoked or having a felony on your long-term record.

The best way to deal with a DUI is to avoid drinking and driving. If you are pulled over and tested, though, you need to know what comes next. Make sure you're aware of alcohol's effect on your body when you drive, what to do when you are pulled over, and how to get in contact with a lawyer if you are charged. Making the right choices after the fact may be the only way to ensure that a single charge won't cause you to lose the type of life you've carefully built for yourself.