What happens when you’re arrested for a DUI charge?
If you are ever arrested for a DUI charge, you will be booked and jailed for around 48 hours. If it's your first DUI, you can expect a more lenient sentence than someone who has had a previous DUI conviction or has been charged for something else. If your DUI did not cause any injuries to a person or damages to any property, you can expect that there will be minimal to no jail time. Regardless, you will be required to attend Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) meetings. There’s a good chance that your driver's license could get suspended and you will be required to pay a fine, or even provide community service. It's important to keep in mind that you will have two separate court hearings. The first is to defend against the criminal charge of driving under the influence. The second hearing is with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to defend against having your driver's license suspended or revoked. The hearing with the DMV is extremely time sensitive and needs to be scheduled within seventy-two hours from your arrest. Some jurisdictions, but not all, will require a bail bond to be released from custody on a DUI charge. Once bailed, you will have to wait for your court date. The bail amount will depend on several factors; including your existing criminal record, the blood alcohol level you had at the time of the arrest and if you caused any injuries or damages. If you have a clean criminal record and it was your first offense, you may not be required to post bail in some jurisdictions. You may be immediately released to wait for your court date.
How is a drunk driving suspect booked?Once you have been arrested, you’ll be placed into police custody. You could be either ‘charged’, ‘booked’ or ‘processed’. The ‘booking’ process will involve the police officer compiling an arrest report and taking the following steps:
- The suspect is searched (it could be ‘full body’ or a ‘pat down’ search based on the circumstances)
- Confiscating and making notes of the personal belongings of the suspects (money, purse, wallet, keys and other things found on the suspect’s person). The items are returned when the suspect is released from police custody.
- Making notes of the personal information of the criminal suspect. This could include the name, license number, address, gender, age, height, hair color, weight, and eye color.
- Making notes of the arrest and the suspected crime. This includes the date and location of the arrest, the officer who read the rights to the suspect, details of the circumstances related to the arrest, the time of suspect’s arrival in the custody, the time of booking, and the crime charged on the suspect.
- Taking the suspect’s fingerprints (the fingerprints will usually be added to the national database).
- Taking the suspect’s photograph (widely known as the mug shot).
- Placing the suspect in a holding cell.
Conditions to bail out a drunk driving suspectA drunk driving suspect may be released before/after being booked, on posting (paying) bail. Bail refers to cash or a bail bond that must be paid for releasing the suspect until the case has been concluded. Bail works as an incentive, so that the defendant will appear during all court appearances. If it happens that a bailed-out suspect is not present for a court appearance, the posted bail will be forfeited. It will also lead to issuing of an arrest warrant on the defendant.
What happens in absence of an immediate bail?When there is no grant of immediate bail to a suspect after they have been booked at a police station; the suspect is required to wait before appearing in front of a judge for a bail hearing. But the suspect in custody doesn’t have to be held for more than 2 days. Because holidays and weekends are not included in this time duration, the custody may sometimes be more than 2 days. Many times, someone arrested in the morning could have their bail hearing taking place in the afternoon.
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What could the bail cost?There are two ways the bail amount can be determined. It may be determined by a ‘bail schedule’ or the judge during the bail hearing. When there is no immediate permission to post bail at the police station, the bail amount set by the judge will be based on the following factors:
- Criminal record of the suspect which includes previous drunk driving / DUI offenses.
- How serious the drunk driving / DUI offense was (if there were any injuries or fatalities and whether some aggravating factor was involved)
- Whether the suspect has any connections with the community, such as family relations.
- Whether they are employed in a full-time job (if there is any chance that they may vanish after posting bail)