Being arrested for a DUI can be scary. Not only do they technically make you a criminal in some states under the right conditions, but it is often the first kind of charge that the average person will get in their life. Knowing what a DUI is and how to handle it can help a lot if you are starting to panic.

What is a DUI?

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, although it can also be known as Driving While Intoxicated or Operating Under The Influence, depending on your state and situation. Either way, a DUI refers to being caught driving while influenced by alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants.

Since DUIs rely on a driver, they only apply to motorized vehicles, but that can be anything from a motorized scooter to a train.

If you are found to be intoxicated above the legal limit while driving a vehicle, then you are almost always getting a DUI charge unless you have hit a more severe criminal charge instead (like running somebody over).

How can I be arrested under a DUI?

DUI charges vary from state to state, but there are generally two ways that a DUI can be handed out.

Either you are so obviously intoxicated while driving that it is immediately clear you qualify for one, or you show signs of being intoxicated, allowing a police officer to pull you over and administer a sobriety test.

If you fail one of these tests and they find that you are intoxicated above a legal limit, then you will almost always get a DUI charge that matches your level of intoxication (and the nature of the drink, drug, or chemical that caused it).

What can I do about a DUI?

Once you are charged with a DUI, you want to get a lawyer. In most states, a DUI is a criminal offence (with more severe cases being a felony), so you need proper legal representation and counsel if you want to get the best possible outcome. A DUI is a serious charge even at the lower levels, so you should not take it lightly.

Get an attorney and talk through your options, making sure you listen to them properly. There is always a chance that you can be found innocent or have your sentence massively reduced, but you need to work for that result, and it is sometimes better to let your lawyer do the bulk of the work.

Pleading guilty or not guilty.

At your DUI hearing, you have the option to plead either guilty or not guilty. This decides the rest of your hearing and the steps you will have to take, so be sure you talk to your attorney about how to proceed before throwing yourself into a no-win situation.

A guilty plea is an admission that you are at fault, but it can also lead to reduced sentences. Usually, you will end up fined and having to go to rehabilitation classes, as well as temporary license suspensions. In more severe cases, you can get jail time, but this will be reduced if you continue the rehabilitation courses.

The not-guilty plea is the option that lets you fight your charge, but it is not an easy process. Not only do you have to start gathering proper evidence to justify your innocence, but you will need to look for weaknesses in the other side’s arguments and evidence against you.

Should I always fight the charge?

The biggest issue with fighting a DUI charge is that it will not always work. While you can reduce your sentence even if you do not prove your own innocence, it is sometimes better to plead guilty and accept the normal punishments since there is a high chance of getting reduced sentences and fines anyway.

It is often best to fight your charge when you know that you are either innocent or being charged with a higher DUI type than you should be. The more evidence you can gather, the easier it becomes for you and your attorney to work together on dismantling parts of the charge, even if you are still technically guilty of a lesser DUI.

Sites and groups like DM Cantor are a good place to look for help and resources, whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. Never go into a DUI on your own without help because you'll miss obvious chances to soften the impact of whatever punishments are sent your way.