When you are stopped for driving under the influence, the officer who stops you will ask you to take a field sobriety test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content level at the time you were stopped. If you refuse the field sobriety test or you register a BAC higher than .08, you will be arrested for DUI. Once you are arrested for DUI, you will be taken to the nearest police station where you will be booked into the system. Some officers will call a family member to pick up your vehicle, but in most situations the officer will have your vehicle towed to an impound lot where you will pay a fee to have it released.
After Your Arrest
If you refuse a field sobriety test, the jail will take a blood test from you when you arrive to the station. After the test is done, you will be fingerprinted and booked into custody. If it is your first time DUI, you will have to sit in a holding cell for a specified amount of time depending on the state. Most states require the inmate to sober up before they can be released on bail. When you are released you will be given information about your upcoming court date. Most court dates are within 30 days of the arrest.
State laws for driver license suspensions may vary from state to state. Most states will give the person charged with the DMV 30 days before their license is suspended. This suspension is called an administrative suspension and it is imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles if you lose your administrative hearing. The suspension can take place even before you are convicted of a DUI in court.
Going to Court
You must attend your first court date to hear your charges and put in a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A DUI is a criminal case and you do have the right to a jury trial. If you plead not guilty, the case will be investigated by a District Attorney. This is called the discovery period and the state will build its case against you. You can request a public defender or hire your own defense attorney if you have the money to do so. The DA and the defense team will meet together to come to an agreement called a plea bargain. You can also carry the trial all the way through if you feel you can beat the charge.
Sentencing and Licensing
If you plead guilty or you were convicted, you will be sentenced. Most first time offenders receive a fine, license suspensions, and court-mandated classes. The classes must be completed before you can get your license back without restrictions. You may qualify for a restricted license with the DMV if you show proof of starting your mandated class.
Getting stopped for drunk driving is a serious offense. It is important to understand the process and how to protect yourself during this stressful time. Hopefully this enlightened you a bit on what happens to do when you get a DUI or DWI and remember that drinking and driving do not mix!