What do you say in court for first DUI?
You have to be sincere and apologize for driving while drunk. More importantly, explain how you won’t get a DUI in the future.
In DUI Court
Being arrested for a DUI can be overwhelming, and you’ll eventually have your day in court. However, saying the wrong things at the wrong times can make matters worse. Because your future depends on it, knowing what to say to a judge during your trial is extremely important. Whether you are fighting for your innocence or working on a plea deal, a judge will hear your testimony and use it to determine the correct sentence. While having the help of a good RI DUI lawyer can help tremendously, preparing yourself beforehand may increase your chances of getting reduced penalties.
5 Tips on What to Say to the Judge
At sentencing, the judge will ask if you have anything you’d like to say regarding your case. Staying silent is one strategy, but it will neither hurt nor help your argument. Speaking up can change the game, but only if you say the right things.
All judges want to hear you be remorseful for what you did. Making excuses is intolerable and may make things worse. Never express being sorry for getting caught but instead, let the judge know that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions.
2. Give Some Background
A trustworthy RI DUI attorney will give the judge some background information on you before or during the court proceeding. However, when you’re asked to speak, gently and carefully expound on the facts. For example, if you have a drug or alcohol problem, admit it and tell the judge you’re working to get it under control.
3. Expose the Positives of the Situation
While it may seem very difficult to think of any positives regarding being arrested for a DUI, it’s possible with a little forethought and strategy. Touch base on what you learned from your experience and talk about how you’ll refrain from making the mistake again.
4. Complete Sentencing Requirements Before Being Sentenced
If you think the judge will require drug or alcohol treatment classes as a part of your DUI sentence, take it upon yourself to sign up and complete those classes on your own. Be sure to tell about your participation during court. Not only does this reflect very positively upon you, but it may also encourage the judge to lighten your legal load.
5. Promise to Act More Responsibly
By promising the court that you will never commit the crime again, you appear remorseful. If the message is delivered with sincerity (and especially if it’s your first offense), the judge may reduce your sentence as a result. However, it’s important to keep your promise. Whatever you say to the judge is recorded and if you get arrested for the same thing again, your promises may be disregarded or viewed as an empty plea.
What Happens When You Get A DUI For The First Time?
Driving under the influence is a crime, but the idea of getting arrested for DUI for the very first time may not faze many people. After all, it’s a first-time offense, and the law is quite lenient on first-time offenders, right?
While most states categorize first-time DUIs as a misdemeanor, the consequences, both short-term and long-term, remain serious. If ever you’re arrested for a DUI, you will need to fully understand not just the punishments that come with a DUI conviction, but its possible long-term impact on your life as well.
Here are the things that will happen when you’re arrested for DUI for the first time.
You will be booked
As with any other crime, you will be brought to the nearest police station or jail, where your mugshots and fingerprints will be taken. If you’re allowed to post bail, and someone pays for it, you can be released immediately.
You’ll be ordered to appear in court
A ticket or a summons will be handed to you at the time of your arrest to inform you of the date you must show up in court for your DUI hearing.
Your license will be suspended
Depending on the state, your driver’s license will be suspended immediately after the arrest if you say no to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer or blood test, or it will come as part of your sentence once you’re convicted of DUI.
You can go to jail
Some people believe that first-time DUI convicts are only given probation. The truth is, jail terms for first-time DUI offenders are now mandatory in an increasing number of states.
As first-offense DUI is classified as a misdemeanor in all states, a conviction could mean up to six months in jail. The sentence, however, may be lengthened if there are aggravating circumstances. Typically, however, first-time DUI offenders serve shorter jail terms and spend the rest of the time on probation or performing community service.
What Types Of Pleas May Be Available?
In regards to a plea agreement, your attorney can ask for community service in lieu of jail if jail is a typical sentence. If you have multiple DUI convictions, then your attorney will advise you that you are looking at months in jail unless you take your case to trial and prevail.
If this is the first offense with no aggravating factors, the prosecutor will advise your attorney of the plea offer. This may be 48 hours in jail or community service, depending on the policies of that court, along with a fine of about $390 and participation in DUI classes.
Can Your Attorney Plea Bargain To Something Lower Than a DUI?
In some cases, a plea to “wet reckless” ((VC 23103.5)) or dry reckless is substituted for a DUI. There need to be circumstances that would incentivize the prosecutor such as problems of proof to agree to a reduction in the charges.
If there are favorable circumstances to you or issues that could make a conviction difficult, a non-alcohol related offense can be negotiated so that you will face no jail time and none of the consequences of a DUI conviction.
How to Look and Sound Your Best in Court
Appearance: An experienced DUI defense attorney will defend your character as a way to minimize penalties. Make sure you look the part of the upstanding citizen. Wear clean, pressed business attire free of stains with appropriate footwear. For example, a man might want to wear a suit. At the very least, slacks with a button down dress shirt and tie. A woman might wear a skirt or slacks with a nice blouse. As a general rule, you want to dress conservatively and professionally-leave the flip flops and tank tops at home. You might have a unique sense of style outside of the courtroom, but tattoos, piercings, and funky hairstyles may be viewed as obscene. Cover and/or remove them to present yourself as orderly as possible. Remember, you’re being accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is serious. Put your best face forward.
Manner of speech: It may not be your normal way of speaking, but answering all questions with, “Yes/no, sir” or “ma’am” will convey the level of respect you have for the court and all individuals involved in your case. Address the judge as “Your Honor.” Thank them for their time. If you think you might have misunderstood a question or statement, don’t say, “What was that?” Instead say something like, “Your Honor, I did not understand the question. Would you please clarify?” Finally, do not raise your voice, curse, or use slang. Speak as you would at a job interview.
Body language: Sit up straight in your chair. Resist the urge to cross your arms as it is often perceived as a defensive action. It might not be appropriate to smile, however, try and maintain a neutral facial expression to avoid looking angry and hostile. Stand when speaking to the judge and have a seat when you’re finished. Maintain eye contact and avoid using exaggerated hand gestures. When in doubt, follow your attorney’s lead. Remember you are there to present yourself in the best possible light-nonverbal communication is just as important as what you say.
General demeanor: Even if you plead not guilty, treat the charges seriously and maintain respect for the law. Now is not the time to go off on a political tirade about why you think DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional. DUI is a serious offense that can cause lasting emotional and physical damage. Approach your court appearances with the understanding that most judges have seen and heard it all. You are there to calmly and rationally state your case against a serious conviction.
Attend DUI-DWI school prior to trial.
If you attend this school at the recommendation of your attorney before either your trial or your plea of guilty, you may gain several significant benefits.
First, if there has been an administrative suspension of your license, completion of this school may allow you to get your full driver’s license again.
Second, your attendance at this school may give your attorney some leverage with the prosecution in obtaining a reduced charge against you. Your attendance shows the prosecution your acceptance of a possible problem, and your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions.
Finally, if you are found guilty of the DUI-DWI offense, attendance of the DUI-DWI school typically will be part of your sentence.
If you have already successfully completed the school that is one less thing you have to do when the case is resolved in court. Successful completion of the school can sometimes be used by your attorney to negotiate a lesser sentence on your behalf.
Your attorney can submit to the prosecutor that you have taken this legal matter seriously, and have taken steps to address any “dependency” issues.