Were you or a loved one recently pulled over and arrested for driving or operating a vehicle under the influence? What should you do if you’re ever arrested and charged with DUI or OUI in Massachusetts?
It can happen to anyone ‒ but a DUI arrest doesn’t have to ruin your future.
Attorney John B. Seed of New Bedford, MA, has represented thousands of DUI and OUI clients throughout Bristol County and Eastern Massachusetts. By staying informed and understanding what to do during and after a DUI investigation, you can avoid detrimental consequences, protect your license, as well as your future.
Read on to learn more ‒ or if you were recently charged with DUI, contact the office of Attorney John B. Seed today!
Stay Alert & Ready
Certain actions can make or break your first encounters with a police officer who has pulled you over on suspicion of DUI/OUI. Once you’ve pulled over to the side of the road, stay inside your vehicle and remain calm. The more suspicious you act, the worse your chances of getting arrested.
Make sure your license and registration are easily accessible. You don’t want to appear like you’re fumbling around in search of them.
Above all else, be courteous and respectful. Remember: The police officer can use anything you say or do against you in court ‒ and everything said and taking place IS recorded.
What Should You Say If the Police Ask “Have You Been Drinking?”
Once the officer has your name, driver’s license, registration, and insurance details, they will likely ask, “Have you been drinking tonight?” or “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
You don’t have to answer. It is highly recommended you remain silent.
If you’ve only had one or two drinks and wish to admit to it, be as specific as possible. Avoid saying “a couple” or giving some other ambiguous amount. Be prepared to explain what kind of alcohol you drank and when you drank it.
Underestimating the amount you’ve had to drink can worsen your case in court. If you’re proven to have had multiple drinks, and you lowballed the number of drinks you had to the arresting officer, the court will see that as lying.
Know Your Rights
The police officer will likely ask where you are coming from and where you are going. You do not have to disclose any of this information. You can politely but straightforwardly tell the police officer that you wish to remain silent.
The police officer may then ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform a field sobriety test. You can politely and respectfully decline. The police cannot coerce or force you to perform field sobriety tests. These tests can be difficult even for sober people to pass ‒ so you may be setting yourself up for failure if you agree to one.
Can You Refuse to Take a BAC Test in Massachusetts?
You have the right to refuse to submit to a BAC test in Massachusetts; however, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for refusal to take the test. The suspension period varies on how many prior OUI/DUI offenses you have.
If you have no prior offenses, your license will be suspended for 180 days. Those with one or two prior offenses will lose their license for three or five years respectively.
Keep in mind: The police can still arrest and charge you with OUI/DUI based on their observations and judgment. If you refuse a BAC test, you can face additional refusal charges on top of the DUI/OUI.
If you submit to a BAC test, the officer will choose a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test. At this point, it’s best to comply and stay calm. Resisting the BAC test, arrest, or generally making it difficult for the police will not work in your favor later on in court.
You’re arrested, booked, and fingerprinted. If you are a first-time offender, chances are you’ll likely spend the night in jail and make a phone call to a friend or family member to pick you up. Repeat DUI/OUI offenders may have to stay in jail until their arraignment.
Get in touch with a DUI/OUI attorney as soon as possible. Your arraignment in court will likely occur in the days following your arrest, and you’ll want to begin preparing your case. The attorney will examine your case, the details of your arrest, and inform you of your options.
Arraignment, Trial, & Sentencing
During the arraignment, you’ll likely enter a plea of Not Guilty.
Whether or not you’re released on bail will depend on repeat offenses. If this is your first DUI, the court will most likely release you without bail. If you are a repeat offender, the court will set a bail amount.
A pretrial hearing will occur within a few weeks after your arraignment. The prosecutor will offer you a deal. Your lawyer will advise you on what to do next. Accepting or rejecting the offer may be in your best interests depending on whether you’re a repeat offender.
Later on, a motion hearing will take place, and the arresting officer will testify on your arrest and what led up to it. Based on the officer’s testimony, your attorney may be able to determine that they pulled you over unlawfully or violated your rights, in which case they may be able to have your case dismissed.
Following the motion hearing, the court will set a trial date. You can decide to have a jury trial or have the judge hear your case in a bench trial. Your attorney will advise you on what’s best.
No matter the outcome, your attorney will guide you through the next steps in regards to your license, probation, or jail time.
Don’t Face DUI Alone
Understanding what to do after a DUI can be overwhelming and confusing. Massachusetts has some of the strictest DUI laws in the United States, and navigating your options requires the counsel and guidance of an experienced DUI and OUI attorney.
Were you or a loved one recently pulled over and arrested for DUI/OUI in Bristol County or the surrounding areas? Attorney John B. Seed is ready to defend you! Based in New Bedford, MA, Attorney Seed represents clients in DUI/OUI cases throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Contact us today to get started on your case.