You were arrested for a DUI within the last couple of days. Now what do you do?
As a TREATMENT PROVIDER (NOT AN ATTORNEY), I want to tell you to run to my office. Yes, there are some selfish reasons for saying that but there are other good reasons to do so. Within the next few days, you are going to start looking for an attorney and your mailbox will be full of solicitations from lots of them. Some are simple letters and some send color folders of papers that make them look very professional. Some will price their low price to represent you and some will just say "Free Consultations." But most of the clients I see, go with the attorney they already had a relationship with or one that is recommended by a friend who was in trouble before.
But the worst mistake I have seen was one of our clients called his old college buddy to represent him in his criminal DUI case. Yes, his friend was an attorney. But he was a patent attorney. If he had an idea of the criminal side it would be like me saying I know patents. We also had a client who for whatever reason hired an attorney, who then hired a para-legal in law school to do all the leg work. The paralegal decided that his client could not do his evaluation without his attorney present and even tried to excuse some of the questions that we had for his client. They were both informed that our office is not a court room and they had every right to leave.
DISCLAIMER: I am a treatment provider and not an attorney. I cannot provide you with any legal advise! I didn't go through 3 years of law school and didn't pass the BAR exam. I am writing to you as a lament person who may have a little more knowledge then you do on this subject. That is all I can offer you.
So why do I tell you to go talk to a treatment provider? First off, your anxiety is high and the uncertainty can be overwhelming. A treatment provider can help you with those feelings. Secondly, Treatment providers work with attorneys all the time. We see the outcomes of their work. We have built relationships with the local attorneys and we have an idea of what prices they charge for their services.
But here is what I would tell my children if they were arrest for a DUI.
1. If you meet the low-income levels to get a Public Defender on a first time DUI, do not feel like you need to donate plasma to hire a private attorney! Every Public Defenders that we work with are wonderful attorneys!
2. I do not see people going to jail for a first time DUI if no one was hurt, the driver's license was valid and they had car insurance! Yes the law says you can do up to 364 days in Jail. Again I am not an attorney. I cannot tell you that you will not go to jail! But I don't see it. I see more people going to jail for driving without a license after a DUI then I do for a first time DUI.
3. You will be able to drive your car after a first time DUI if you can afford it. In Illinois "First-Time Offenders" are eligible for a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device. It is a breathalyzer that is installed on your vehicle to ensure that you do not drive your car with any alcohol in your body during your Driver's License Suspension period. But it is not free. You will pay for installation, monthly fees and a fee for removing it from your vehicle. The information about the "Monitored Device Driving Permit" will be sent to the address on your driver's license from the Secretary of State.
4. If you seriously feel that you should not have been arrested in the first place and that the officer did not do his job properly, etc., hire an attorney within the first 30 days of your arrest as soon as possible. They will have a better chance at helping you prove that.
5. I would tell you that at long as your arrest was not in Cook or DuPage County, go get a DUI evaluation aka Uniformed Report. However, there are two different approaches that I have seen from attorneys. Some say, "Go get it right away so that we can show it to the State's attorney and maybe even have all the treatment completed prior to sentencing." Other's say, "Do not do it until you are sentenced to do it." I don't understand the second approach. I believe >95% of all individuals arrested for a DUI will be required to complete an evaluation before the end of their case and if you have to do 75 hours of Counseling and 12 months of Continuing Care, why not start right away? If you were arrested in Cook or DuPage County, you will have to go to their Evaluator. Cook County uses Central States Institute. If you are arrested in DuPage County, you will complete your evaluation in the court house.
6. Do not expect anything to happen in court the first, second, third and maybe even the fourth time you go to court for a DUI arrest. I have people coming to treatment ten months after their arrest and they tell me that their attorney just continued it again. NOT LEGAL ADVISE: But I think the only way something would actually happen the first time you were in court would be if you walked into court and said "I am guilty, lock me up." Even then, I don't think you would be found guilty on that day. I think the judge would find an attorney for you.
7. Follow the instructions provided to you by your attorney. Trust their judgment otherwise find an attorney that you do trust. If they tell you to go to any other treatment provider other than myself.... then do not listen but you can still keep the attorney. Between your Attorney and your treatment provider, you should have all the information you need to get everything done and have this experience behind you.