What Should You Do If You Are Charged or Arrested for DUI?
It can happen to anyone, but you never thought it would happen to you. You were innocently driving home from your traditional after work happy hour like you do every Thursday night. It is a short drive to your house, and you didn’t think anything of it. Your driving was perfectly fine, but you didn’t realize you had a brake light out. The cop behind you saw it and pulled you over.
Next thing you knew, you were walking through a field sobriety test. Walking a straight line with one foot in front of the other was harder than you thought it would be. What should have been a five-minute drive turned into a one-hour ordeal. Tired, inconvenienced and embarrassed, you now have a new crisis to deal with — a DUI.
Being stopped and arrested for a DUI in Delaware is frightening enough, but what happens afterwards can make the situation even more of an ordeal. Being charged with a DUI is only the start of the process and knowing the next steps after a DUI arrest can help you make the right choices.
Learn More About:
- DUI Sobriety Testing
- What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Delaware?
- What Should I Do First After Getting a DUI?
- Will My License Be Suspended?
- Can I Be Fired From My Job for a DUI Arrest?
- What Are the Long Term Consequences of DUI?
- What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need?
- What Now?
DUI Sobriety Testing
Under Delaware law, if you are arrested for DUI, you are required to take the sobriety test of the officer’s choosing — either blood, breath or urine. A lawful arrest, with probable cause, for DUI is considered “implied consent” to blood alcohol testing. The law gives a police officer the right to compel you to take a test to determine your blood alcohol content under these circumstances.
There are also other circumstances under which the police can require you to take a blood alcohol test. If you are unconscious at the scene of the accident, a blood test can be administered without your express consent. Also, if someone is killed as a result of the incident you are involved in, the police can compel you to take test to determine your blood alcohol content, even if you don’t cooperate.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is used to apply the law in Delaware and many other states. A BAC of .05% is sufficient to be arrested for DUI. If your BAC is .08% or higher, you could be convicted of DUI. Juvenile drivers caught with any alcohol in their system run the risk of license suspension until they reach legal drinking age.
If you refuse to take a sobriety test, your license may be suspended for a period of time according to this scale:
- 1st offense 12 months
- 2nd offense 18 months
- 3rd offense 24 months
If you are combative, the law allows the police to take certain measures to administer the sobriety test. Police can use tasers or force to administer blood tests or to protect the medical professionals administering the tests. Ultimately, the court decides how much force is reasonable, and it has ruled in favor of the police in the past.
Refusing a Preliminary Breath Test
The test you can refuse without penalty is the preliminary breath test. The police can administer a breath test in the field to determine if you meet the standard for a DUI arrest. It is lawful to refuse this test, and you will not be penalized. However, the test does not have to be administered for the police to arrest you for DUI. If they have some other reason for believing you are intoxicated, the police can still arrest you.
Once you are under arrest for DUI, you can be taken to a medical testing facility for a BAC test without your cooperation. The results of your mandatory BAC test could confirm that you meet the standard for a DUI. If the police have reason to suspect you are driving under the influence, chances are pretty good your BAC will be tested one way or another.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Delaware?
In Delaware, you may be charged with a DUI if you are in physical control of or are operating a vehicle, including a moped or off-highway vehicle, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You are considered over the legal limit for alcohol if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or more.
What happens after a DUI arrest will depend on whether you are an adult or a minor. Minors will usually have their case processed through Family Court. Adults will face court and administrative proceedings.
One of the first things that will happen is that you will be given a chemical test to help authorities assess how impaired you are. Delaware is an “implied consent” state, meaning you voluntarily agree to chemical testing if you are driving in the state and authorities suspect you may be driving under the influence. If you refuse chemical tests, you will lose your license for one year.
You will lose your license for 18 months and 24 months, for second and third offenses, respectively. Even without a chemical test, you can still be convicted.
When you are arrested and have DUI charges brought against you in Delaware, police will give you a 15-day temporary license and take your state driver’s license unless your license has already been revoked or suspended. You will lose your driving privileges for at least three months unless you apply for a DMV administrative hearing within 15 days of being arrested. Your administrative hearing will examine whether you took a chemical test, whether you were operating a vehicle and whether police had probable cause to believe you were under the influence.
Your sentence for a DUI will stay on your driving record for at least five years.
Court Process & First Offence Election Program
In addition to the administrative process, you will also face a court process. Driving under the influence is a criminal offense in Delaware. When you are arraigned, you can choose to stand trial or apply for the First Offense Election program, if you qualify, instead. As of 2015, the First Offense Election Ignition Interlock Device Program is required for all DUI offenders.
Delaware Evaluation and Referral Program
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Delaware, you must also schedule a DERP (Delaware Evaluation and Referral Program) evaluation. This evaluation costs $100 and will last about one hour. During the evaluation, your legal, medical, personal, social and psychological information will be collected. Based on the results, you will be referred to a program designed to help you avoid future DUIs.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the treatment or education program, you can appeal to the Department of Health and Social Services Alcohol and Drug Screening and Evaluation once the program is over.
The consequences for being charged with a DUI in Delaware are obviously considerable. In addition to facing penalties, you will have a record which can affect future career opportunities, insurance costs and more. Having an attorney for DUI cases representing you in Delaware can help you navigate the system and can help you avoid undue penalties.
What To Do After You Get a DUI?
Loss of License
When you are arrested for DUI, the police automatically take your license. That is one action that can make you feel like you are already convicted and being subject to punishment. It is part of the statute, however, and it’s a measure designed to promote the speedy resolution of these matters, no doubt.
When your license is taken away, they issue you a temporary one that is good for 15 days. Now, the clock is ticking for you to get the arrest resolved and have your license reinstated. If you know anything about the legal system, you realize that 15 days is not a lot of time to accomplish anything. You will need to work hard to meet this 15-day timeframe.
There are some strict administrative procedures you need to follow to get your license back. Within that 15-day timeframe, you must request an administrative hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you miss this first deadline, your license will remain suspended for at least three months.
Initiating Administrative Hearings
If you have ever gotten a speeding ticket, you know that the court date is set for you. The court tells you when you have to appear to resolve your ticket. In the case of DUI, however, you have to initiate this administrative hearing. If you do not take action, there will be consequences.
Here is where first-time offenders often run into trouble. You need to know what to do, and you need to do it quickly. If you are intimidated by a process you are unfamiliar with, and if you procrastinate, your 15 days will run out. While your administrative hearing date is not set for you automatically, the suspension of your license if you fail to comply within 15 days is automatic.
After you’ve been arrested for DUI, the most important thing you need to do is get your administrative hearing scheduled. That hearing can determine whether the resolution of your arrest goes easy or difficult. Once you miss your 15-day window, and your license is suspended, you are looking at a bigger struggle getting through the process, and you can expect the consequences to compound.
Preparing for Your Administrative Hearing
Preparation for your administrative hearing is your second priority after a DUI arrest. At your administrative hearing, three topics will be discussed:
- The amount of evidence against you
- The establishment of probable cause for your arrest
- Whether you refused the BAC test
In the time leading up to your hearing date, you’ll need to gather data and prepare to argue on these three points.
The police will have to show that they had probable cause to arrest you. They will present whatever evidence they had that suggested to them at the time you might be driving under the influence. A preliminary breath test can be used evidence here, but there are other arguments they can make for having probable cause.
Then, they will have to show that there is enough evidence to prove you were in fact driving under the influence. A preponderance of evidence will be considered by the administrative law judge at your hearing. If they have a BAC test that shows 0.08% or more, though, that is all the evidence they need.
The third point that is resolved at the administrative hearing is your refusal to take a chemical test. If you in fact did refuse testing, the circumstances will be reviewed. This is when your license suspension penalty could be applied for refusing the test. There are circumstances under which it can be argued that you were within your rights to refuse to take the test.
Legal Representation at an Administrative Hearing
The administrative hearing could determine your fate with regard to the DUI arrest. Unless you are well-versed in vehicle and traffic law and come fully prepared to argue your case, you could be facing penalties from the administrative hearing. For this reason, it is a good idea, especially if this is your first DUI arrest, to seek legal representation immediately.
The consequences for DUI, if you are convicted, are significant. The time-frame for resolving your case is strict. You do not want to miss a deadline or be unprepared for your hearing. Talking to a DUI attorney is the smartest thing you can do when you are arrested for DUI.
Will My License Be Suspended?
Yes, your license will be suspended for a DUI arrest. The more important question is how long that suspension will last. It is possible to maintain your driving privileges throughout this procedure, but that is really a best-case scenario.
When you are charged with DUI, your license is automatically suspended. For the first 15 days, you will drive on a temporary license. If everything goes right, your license could be reinstated at the end of that 15 days. According to Delaware law, there are a number of reasons your license could be suspended for three months or longer during this process and if you are convicted.
Refused BAC Test
Refusing the BAC test at the time of your arrest will result in the suspension of your license according to the chart above. Unless you can argue successfully why this penalty should not be enforced against you, the suspension is automatic following your administrative hearing.
Good legal strategy, however, does include the possibility of refusing the BAC test. A license suspension can be far less damaging than a DUI conviction. Depending on the circumstances, it may be in your best interest to refuse the test and take the suspension. A qualified drunk driving attorney can assess this risk for you.
Depending on your situation, a suspended license may not be the worst penalty, and it is likely to happen as a result of your DUI arrest. Your license could also be suspended if you receive an unfavorable ruling at your administrative hearing, or if you do not request a hearing within the time-frame allotted. Licenses are usually suspended according to this scale:
- 1st offense 3 months
- 2nd offense 12 months
- 3rd offense 18 months
License suspensions can add up quickly. There are, however, certain circumstances that would keep the judge from implementing the maximum suspension. This is why you want to consult a drunk driving lawyer to handle your case. Professional representation will get you the best possible outcome.
Can I Be Fired From My Job for a DUI Arrest?
How your employer reacts to your DUI arrest is dependent on several things. There is no specific protection under the law for employees who are arrested for DUI, and it may not be hard to show probable cause for your dismissal. Getting fired from your job, however, is not necessarily inevitable when you’ve been arrested for DUI.
It is important to follow any guidelines from your employer regarding a DUI arrest. Many employers require notification of such an infraction, especially if you drive a company-owned vehicle. The circumstances of your arrest certainly come into play here. Were you in a company vehicle at the time? Did the incident happen during work hours? Are you required to have a clean driving record to perform your work duties? There is a lot to consider.
Even if you do not drive a company-owned vehicle or rely on your driving privileges at work, your job could be in jeopardy. Many employers have a clause that requires employees to report arrests or convictions. Keeping your DUI arrest a secret from your employer may not keep you from being fired. When your employer finds out about your arrest from some other source, they may fire you for not notifying them.
Your legal representative can offer you valuable insight to handling your DUI arrest with your employer. DUI attorneys see hundreds of these cases, and they know how to cast your situation in the best light to your employer. Part of the professional service you will get from a qualified drunk driving lawyer is sound advice on talking with your employer about your situation and avoiding the termination of your job.
What Are the Long Term Consequences of DUI?
The moment you are arrested for DUI in Delaware can be scary, especially if it is your first offense. The police can be intimidating in getting you to cooperate with the BAC testing, and if you have no experience with the criminal justice system, you may not know what to do.
When the incident is finally over, and it sinks in that you have a DUI arrest, your anxiety may continue. Resolving a DUI arrest can take months. It’s also expensive, and it can have a lasting effect on your life.
A DUI arrest in the state of Delaware could have long-term consequences, including:
- You could lose your job.
- You might get an Ignition Interlock put on your car.
- Your immigration status could be revoked.
- You could lose your license for a year or more.
- You could end up with a permanent criminal record.
- Your insurance rates could increase, or you could lose coverage altogether.
- You could be barred from entering certain countries, like Canada, that restrict entry for people with DUI convictions.
If you’ve just been charged with a DUI, and you are concerned about your future, you should be. A DUI arrest that leads to a conviction can change your life forever. The inability to travel freely in and out of the country is one of those privileges you don’t fully appreciate until it is revoked. You may not like your job most days, but losing it because of your DUI arrest would be a whole different kind of unhappy. Getting a new job with a criminal record can be extremely difficult. At the very least, you will have to explain your DUI to every potential employer.
Some of the long-term consequences of a DUI arrest can be mitigated if you start right away. It is a good idea to get your legal representative involved as soon as you are charged with DUI. That is the time to begin working on a strategy to resolve your arrest with the least impact to the rest of your life.
What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need?
When you are charged with DUI in the state of Delaware, you need a criminal attorney. If you do not already have a criminal record, you may be reluctant to engage a criminal attorney. For some people, there is a stigma attached to criminal law that you do not wish to be associated with.
Unfortunately, the court does not see you as the person who rescued the neighbor’s cat from a tree, helps your kids with their homework after dinner or plays on the corporate softball team for charity. You are entering the system with a DUI arrest, and that is how the court sees you, for now.
The criminal justice system is no laughing matter. It can mete out severe punishments that stick with you for a long time. The system is measured and predictable, but you need someone on your side who understands its inner workings.
A criminal lawyer with experience handling DUI cases in Delaware is your best chance of a positive outcome to the situation you are in. Drunk driving attorneys focus specifically on offenses involving alcohol and drugs as well as traffic law violations. They know the administrative procedures outlined by the DMV, as well as the criminal justice system.
DUI cases involve scientific evidence. A drunk driving attorney is well versed in what testing procedures are permissible and most accurate. He knows how to argue on your behalf against the scientific evidence the police collected, and he thoroughly understands the standards of probable cause in these incidents.