The Key Steps to Take After a North Dakota DUI
Although you should never drink and drive, sometimes people make mistakes. This is what you should do if you get a North Dakota DUI.
When it comes to drinking and driving, North Dakota is the worst state in the nation. In 2019, 41% of road fatalities in the state involved drunk drivers.
Given this data, it’s no surprise North Dakota police and courts take DUIs seriously. If you’re arrested for DUI, you may lose your license and pay a hefty fine. In particularly serious cases, you may even face jail time.
The best way to protect your rights is to take decisive action as soon as possible. Here’s what you should do right after a North Dakota DUI.
Don’t Talk to the Police
Once the police officer has decided to arrest you for DUI, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. You also can’t prevent a prosecutor from filing or pursuing charges against you after a DUI arrest.
With this in mind, your best course of action is to not speak to the police. Even if you have a strong alibi, the police officer will assume you’re lying. Simply remain polite and cooperate until you can speak with your lawyer.
Understand Your Charges
In North Dakota, a DUI arrest would trigger two separate cases. One is the criminal case, which begins once the prosecutor files charges against you. This can take up to a year from the date of your arrest.
The second case is the DMV APS suspension. This triggers automatically if you have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or more. If you don’t request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, you’ll lose your license.
The severity of your criminal penalties will depend on a few variables. Most first, second, and third convictions are misdemeanors. If you have three or more convictions within 15 years, the charge will be a class C felony.
Write Down What Happened
Once you leave jail, write down everything you remember about your arrest and the things that led to it. Include everything that happened from the moment the officer arrived to the time of your release.
For instance, note how your encounter with the officer went. What reasoning did they have to stop you and how did you respond? If you’d agreed to do the field sobriety tests, explain how you did on them.
Everything you write down can have a positive effect on your case. For example, the officer may have forgotten to read you your Miranda rights. Even these minor details can lead to your case getting thrown out of court.
Decide on Representation
When you get arrested for a DUI, you’ll get an arrest citation. Among other things, the citation should contain your first court date. This is a good time to decide whether you’ll hire a private lawyer or use a public defender.
There are seven public defender offices in North Dakota. Though they employ great lawyers, the number of cases they get keeps them very busy. As such, you’re unlikely to get a lot of attention from a public defender.
By comparison, hiring a private DUI attorney ensures your case is in good hands. They’ll answer all your questions and look into every aspect of the case. Most reputable law offices will also offer a free case evaluation.
Identify Potential Witnesses
Were you with someone else when you were driving under the influence? If the answer is yes, make a list of people you were with and places you visited. Your lawyer will contact these witnesses to learn more about the arrest.
This step is important because the police likely won’t do any investigation. From their point of view, they already have everything they need to convict you. Oftentimes, though, witness statements will help your case.
Gather Available Evidence
Next, look for other evidence that can shed more light on your arrest. If you were in a bar before the arrest, for instance, ask for a copy of your bill. With some luck, this may help prove you weren’t driving drunk.
If you’ve failed a breath test, consider why that happened. Many things can raise your BAC level, from a soda to a keto diet. If you have asthma, your inhaler may contain albuterol, raising your BAC level as well.
Keep every piece of paper associated with your arrest, no matter how trivial it may seem. Keep the case folder organized as well. The easier it is to find something you may need, the more grateful your attorney will be.
When it comes to what to do after a DUI, it’s best to avoid trouble as much as possible. While you’re negotiating a plea bargain, showing the DA that you’ve behaved can help make them more persuasive.
If your DUI is a misdemeanor, you won’t need to stay in jail. In most cases, the judge will order you to stay free on your “own recognizance.” As part of this order, you’ll need to be very serious about obeying all laws.
While you’re waiting for your court date, don’t talk about your arrest. Many prosecutors will scour the arrestees’ social media for anything incriminating. Even if you’re convinced you’re not guilty, it’s best to keep your head down.
DUI laws are complex, so any DUI case can take a while to resolve. Some arrestees can wait upwards of a year for their case to go to trial. Your lawyer may also make several motions to delay this process further.
It’s important to be aware of this situation and stay as patient as you can. As the adage goes, good things come to those who wait. Use the time you have until the trial on ensuring you’ve done everything you can for your case.
Dealing With a North Dakota DUI
As you can see, dealing with a North Dakota DUI can be overwhelming. This is particularly true if you’re a first offender and don’t know what to expect.
Looking for professional legal representation? Our lawyers at Heartland Law Office PC will create an effective defense against any DUI charge. Contact us here to learn more about our services.