Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California can be many things. It can be humiliating, humbling, aggravating, annoying, eye opening, and much more. For those who have never before been in trouble with the law, the experience can be especially harrowing, which is why the help of a professional DUI defense attorney is always recommended. A DUI defense attorney is an attorney who dedicates a majority of his or her time to the practice of defending those charged with driving under the influence. Because it is such a unique area of the law, an attorney with knowledge and experience specific to DUI defense can be an especially valuable ally in the fight against charges filed by a local prosecutor.
Immediately After an Arrest for DUI
Immediately after a person has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, that person will be detained by police, kept in police custody, and brought before a judge (usually the next business day) to be arraigned. An arraignment is a formal reading of the charges which a person has been charged with, and an opportunity for a formal response (guilty or not guilty). In between arrest and arraignment, the police will most likely ask a variety of questions. Instead of answering these questions, anyone who believes that the police may suspect them of DUI, no matter the true circumstances, should exercise his or her right to remain silent.
In order to receive the full protections of the right not to incriminate oneself, the right to remain silent must be “activated” by an affirmative statement or other obvious indication. Sitting in silence is no longer a valid method of exercising the right to remain silent, and may actually be used against a person in court as evidence of a guilty conscience (as of 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Salinas v. Texas). Exercising the right to remain silent is the best way to ensure that nothing you say is taken out of context or misinterpreted by an overzealous police officer / investigator.
Since most people don’t have any practical way of securing legal representation after an arrest but before an arraignment, courts will usually appoint a public defender to represent the suspect during the arraignment. If the suspect does not believe that he or she has committed a crime, then the suspect should enter a plea of not guilty during arraignment with the help of the appointed public defender, but the suspect shouldn’t make any long term representation plans with the public defender. After arraignment, the suspect will have plenty of time to secure private legal counsel, which is exactly what should be done. Most public defenders, especially those in heavily populated cities, are too overworked and under motivated to give their appointed clients the representation that they deserve.
As soon as private legal counsel has been secured to handle DUI charges on a suspect’s behalf, that suspect will have far less on his or her mind to worry about. This is because when a private attorney takes on a case, the attorney will immediately get to work crafting a competent defense for the suspect, reviewing the evidence in a case, and making contact with the necessary witnesses for more insight into the charges.