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Getting A DUI For The First Time

You’ve just gotten a DUI. What now?

Getting a DUI for the first time is a pretty stressful experience. Many people who are charged with DUI have never been charged with a crime before. You probably have a lot of questions about what is going on. This section of the website is meant to provide a portrait of a typical first-time DUI experience.

Your first court date is called your “arraignment.” It is at your arraignment that the state will read its charges against you. You will be asked to enter a plea: guilty or not guilty? You will plead “not guilty” because we don’t know what kind of evidence the state has against you. We can change this plea later if we have to but there is typically no going back once you plead guilty. It is only after your arraignment that we learn how strong the state’s case is — this process is called “discovery.”

The state’s evidence will consist of a police report detailing your stop and arrest as well as various documents regarding field sobriety tests, blood or breath tests, and possibly an audio or a video recording depending on the jurisdiction. Once we have that packet of information in our hands we can begin analyzing it for its various strengths and weaknesses.

When we analyze your case we are looking for both legal challenges as well as factual challenges. For instance, we might make a legal objection to the officer pulling you over in violation of your constitutional rights. An example of a factual challenge would be to challenge the police officer’s administration of the field sobriety tests — many times police administer these tests improperly which leads to false positives.

A very tough choice

Most people whao are getting a DUI for the first time have a very important choice to make: do you fight the DUI or do you go into diversion? Oregon DUI diversion is a program that allows you to have your first DUI dismissed from your criminal record after completing a year of probation and all of the attendant conditions. If you do everything right there is no jail time but there are some hefty fines. Not everyone is eligible for diversion although most are.

The other option is to fight the DUI. For a first time DUI charge it almost always makes sense to enter diversion rather than to fight the charge. The result of fighting your first-time DUI and losing it is that you don’t get to elect diversion after you are found guilty — that is, you’ll definitely end up with a conviction on your record and at least a couple of days in jail or some some hefty community service (plus all of the diversion requirements anyway).

Nevertheless, we like to fight DUIs here and we know how to stand our ground when the law is on our side. Our firm has experience analyzing and trying DUI cases both in the role of prosector and defense attorney. We know what it takes to put someone in jail for DUI and what it takes to keep someone out. If your case is the right type of case to try, we’ll tell you why. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Fighting your DUI

When we want to fight the DUI our case will be put on the “trial docket” at the county courthouse. It can take a while to get an actual trial date, but once we do most DUI trials can be finished in a day or two depending on the complexity of the case.

At trial you may elect to have a judge or a jury decide your case. If we have legal challenges then we argue those to a judge before the jury comes in. If the judge rules in our favor then that can oftentimes mean that the state has no choice but to dismiss the charges. We make our factual arguments to the trier of fact — typically a jury.

The prosecutor must prove to the jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This legal standard imposes a very high burden on the state. Our strategy at trial is centered upon finding the factual grey-areas and leveraging them into reasonable doubt.

In the end juries can be unpredictable. Having a good lawyer who has experience talking to juries and trying cases is going to maximize your odds of success. Give us a call to find out if we can help you.

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