What to Expect After a DUI Arrest

One Guys Story of a DUI Arrest, Conviction and the Aftermath

Note from the editor: This article was submitted by one of our readers, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DrunkDrivingLawyers.com. However, we chose to publish it as a way of offering a first hand account of a DUI case for those who are facing a similar situation for the first time.

Getting Arrested for a DUI Sucks... Being Convicted of a DUI Sucks More.

My DUI happened in California, but I'm sure every state has similar procedures, penalties and fines. If you've gone through a DUI arrest and conviction, much of this should sound familiar. If you've just been arrested for a first time DUI, then the first part should still be fresh in your mind, and the rest will be a narrative of things to come.

The Arrest

I was stupid. I had already made it home from the bar, but found there was nothing to eat, so I figured I'd run out and get something. It was 2am. And I drove to Jack-in-the-Box. Drunk. Suffice it to say, if you're at Jack-in-the-Box at two o'clock in the morning, you've probably been out drinking, and the police know this.

I got my food, and started back home when I saw the flashing red and blue lights.

I won't go into the specifics of the arrest, except to say I passed all those stupid "walk the line" tests, but blew 0.14.

Understand Your Rights
If you're pulled over by police for a DUI, you have certain rights that may help your case. Understanding what the police can and cannot do, and applying that understanding to your situation could potentially open up a defense.
Learn more about Your Rights at a DUI Stop.


Jail is a terrible place to be. After the booking and blood test (which showed a BAC of 0.15), I was deposited into a concrete holding cell with about 20 other guys, most of whom also got arrested for DUI. It smelled terrible, and trying to sleep was damn near impossible. The only place to lay down was the seating area which wrapping the circumference of the room, and was basically a concrete slab. I took off my sweatshirt, used it as a pillow and eventually fell asleep.

I woke up to find I had somehow fallen to the floor, and was sleeping with my head right next to the toilet. At least it was close, because I needed to use it. Keep in mind, the toilet is a stainless steel unit, attached to the wall, with nothing around it, and my need at the moment required that I drop my pants in front of 20+ strangers to do my business. I held out as long as I could, apologized in advance to my fellow cellmates, and did the deed.

After what seemed like a few hours, the guards brought in breakfast. It was a Styrofoam tray wrapped in cellophane. Inside were two slices of bread, a piece of bologna and a single serving package of kool-aid powder to mix with the water from the faucet.

I was in there long enough to also receive lunch and dinner. Both of which were identical to breakfast.

I never understood Einstein’s theory of time relativity, until I spent the day in jail. If you would've asked me right before my release, I would've told you I'd been in there for three weeks. It was 12 hours from the time I awoke. I'm actually glad there wasn't a clock in there, because it probably would have made things worse to know that last hour had really only been forty five seconds.

After Release

Once I was released, I had to go get my car back from the impound lot. I walked up to the window, checkbook in hand, and asked how much I owe them. $400. Jesus Christ, that’s like overnight parking in San Francisco.

A man in a greasy jumpsuit pulled my car out for me. I got in. It reeked of auto garage and stale French fries. I left my burger and fries in the car from the previous night. Oh yeah, I didn't even get to eat.

I drove home and showered in an attempt to get the smell of that holding cell off of me. I didn't work, it had permeated into every pore and into my nasal passages. I can still smell it now.

My First Court Appearance

My brother had gotten arrested for a DUI ten years prior, so I asked him if I should get an attorney. "No dude, you'll be fine, just a slap on the wrist". I had no idea what to expect. I got to the court, and listened as each defendant got up, one at a time, and elected an extension so as to speak to an attorney. I did the same. The judge asked if I would like to enter in a plea or talk to an attorney. I chose the latter.

Get Ready for Court
If you've never been charged with a crime before and are now facing a DUI, the first court appearance can be scary. You'll want to get ready by brushing up on your knowledge of the criminal court procedure.
Learn more about the first court appearance: The DUI Arraignment.

Public Defender

I went to the public defender’s office to see if I could get some advice. I filled out some paperwork asking about my income and monthly expenses, then talk to the secretary. Turns out I made too much money to qualify for a public defender. I fell into the income spectrum where the majority of people do. I made too much for free legal assistance, but couldn't easily afford to spend several thousand on a private defense attorney.

So, after much thought, I decided I would just represent myself.

Back to Court for Sentencing

I went back to court, and sat, waiting as the defendants ahead of me entered their pleas. Surprisingly, none were represented by an attorney. I thought I could pick up some strategy as I waited, but everyone just entered in a plea of guilty and took the standard penalties.

I did the same, and was ordered to pay $1,600, serve 6 days in jail (although I could do the equivalent in community service as an alternative), attend weekly DUI school for nine months (after which I would get my driver’s license reinstated), and court ordered probation for three years. During the next three years of probation, if I were to get pulled over and blow ANYTHING above a 0.00, I would get a 2nd DUI.

Learn About the Consequences of a Conviction
State DUI and DWI laws have become increasingly harsh over the past few decades. Not only are the fines very steep, but jail time and ignition interlock devices are becoming more and more common. If you've been charge with a DUI, you'll want to know what you might be facing.
Learn more about DUI: Charges & Penalties.

Community Service

Community service is actually a "privilege". You get to do one day of community service in lieu of every one day you should serve in jail. As a result, you have to pay for the opportunity to pull weeds, pick up trash, and scrub bird droppings off the blacktop of an elementary school.

I went to the sheriffs’ office as instructed by the court to offer up the following three weekends to serve my community. It cost me $350. They charge per day (in my county it's almost $60 per day) so the more time you get the more it's going to cost you.

I was ordered to report at 7am on the following Saturday to a local school district grounds management office. I arrived 15 minutes early, and found that I would be spending the next three weekends with mostly young guys, teenagers who'd been busted selling pot, fighting at school, stealing cars, or driving drunk.

It actually wasn't so bad. It was summertime. I got a tan and a good workout. I'm just glad I wasn't on the side of the freeway in an orange jumpsuit as most people are.

Restricted License and Insurance

During the previous three months, since before my first court appearance, I had been driving everyday on a suspended license. I had to get to work, and I couldn't get a restricted license until 30 days after my guilty plea.

In order to get the restricted license, I would have to show proof of insurance, and my insurance company would have to submit an SR-22 form to the DMV, which proves that my insurance company knows about my DUI conviction.

My insurance company sent me a letter telling me they were denying me coverage. Shit.

Now I had to go looking around for new car insurance. I finally found a company that would cover a driver with a recent DUI. My monthly insurance premium went up by more than five times! I was now paying $230 per month, vs. $45 before my DUI.

The bills were really beginning to rack up at this point.

Finally, after working out the insurance issues, I went to the DMV, forked over $120, and was granted a restricted license. This allowed me to drive to and from work, and to and from any DUI related activities. All I had left to do now, is the nine months of DUI school.

DUI School

Normally, at least in California, you would do 6 months of DUI classes on a first time DUI conviction. But since my BAC was so high, they tacked on three extra months. This also meant it was going to cost me more.

Just over $1,600, about the same as my court fine. Fortunately, I could pay in installments of $200 per month until my classes were done. Good thing, because this whole thing was already getting me seriously in the whole on my credit cards.

DUI school consists of six weekly "Alcohol Education" classes, and 30 some weeks of group sessions. I did the education classes first. In these, we would sit in something akin to a 3rd grade classroom, and watch two hour long videos on the devastating effects of drunk driving accidents, and the emotional toll taken on a family with an alcoholic parent, as well as various videos on the health effects of long-term consumption of alcohol.

The instructors were not kidding around. If you were even one minute late, you would be barred from admittance. Do it enough, and you have to go back to court and start all over again.

One person actually showed up with alcohol on his breath. The instructor decided to do a "random" BAC test. Everyone was tested, but he already knew who he was going after.

This guy was on his LAST day of DUI school, and claimed to have booze in his system from the previous night. He must have drank a lot, because it was 8pm. Regardless, he was sent on his way, back to court, and would have to do ALL nine months all over again. Bad move.

Once the "education" portion was done, I began the group classes. In these, we would basically sit in a circle and discuss the previous week, what we did, how work was going, etc. Then, the instructor would choose a topic and we would go around the circle discussing it. The topic always revolved around alcoholism. I imagine it's similar to going to an AA class.

The real education was discussing everyone’s DUI story, their penalties, and what they did in court. This is what I took out of it:

Get the best DUI lawyer you can afford.

Seriously, there were people who's stories were much worse than mine, but somehow, the consequences were less severe. One young woman past out while driving on the bay bridge on the way home from San Francisco, hit the guardrail, and ended up sideways across two lanes. BAC 0.22. DUI school: 3 months.

Another girl ran into someone’s house, then passed out in her car, only to wake up to the police tapping on her window. Her charge in court? A wet reckless. This is a step below a DUI, doesn't require an SR-22, only three months of DUI school and that’s it.

Yet another guy got arrested one block from his house after a party. He blew 0.20. Also a wet reckless. 3 months of DUI school, and that's it.

I can't imagine how many people with stories similar to mine that I didn't meet because a lawyer got them off completely.

Determine if You Need Professional Advice
Since a DUI conviction can have potentially devastating effects on your life, you need to determine whether to hire a private defense attorney to help with your case. You may be able to get free legal representation from the public defender, but unfortunately only those with very little or no income qualify.
Learn more about Getting Help With a DUI Case.

The Final Tally

Once I had finished my DUI school, with a flawless attendance record I might add (every time you missed a class, even if scheduled, you had to pay $20 and I wasn't paying anything I didn't have to), I was able to get my drivers license back and move on with my life. One final payment of $90 to the DMV and I was done.

All in, my DUI cost me a little over ten grand. Not to mention, three lost weekends, having to leave work early once a week for nine months to drive 30 miles to DUI school, and that time warped night in jail that continues to haunt my dreams.

My suggestion to anyone charged with a DUI. Talk to a dui lawyer and find out if you have a shot at a reduced sentence or beating it altogether, especially if your BAC was close to 0.1.

Yours Truly,

California DUI Guy

Get Informed

Free Legal Information: DUI & DWI Cases

Learn more about the law and the process you'll need to go through for a DUI charge.

Get Professional Legal Help

Talk to Local DUI Lawyers

If you're ready to talk to some lawyers and get advice about your case, start here.


I got a DUI in California. My BAC was .14 from the breath test. But the Sheriffs report said, .25! They lied. I should have gotten proof then and there. Now it's my word against the cops! They also made up events that happened that night that never happened, like I told them I had pizza for dinner. I'm lactose and glucose intolerant!
I got a DUI in Minnesota. On my way to a home on Monday I slid into a guardrail on the highway due to slick icy driving conditions. I decided to drive to my friends house instead because it was closer. So I get to my buddies and we have some drinks. The next morning I wake up really early to bring my car to a shop. Get my car all the way to the shop get out of my car and close my door and then the cop flashes their lights. I still at that point didn't think I was going to get a DUI because I woke up and felt perfectly fine.
I got pulled over about a week ago for a DUI and was wondering if anyone has any idea on how long u have to wait to find out if you're getting charged or not?
No offense to you or other that have been done for drink driving, but you shouldn't do the crime if you can't do the time! I feel no sorrow for people that drink and drive for personal reasons (lost a loved one to a drink driver), so I think more should be done to try and stop people from doing it. Yes in your case you may have only just been over the limit Mr Author, but did your fine and punishment teach you not to drink and drive again? I bet it did, so look at it this way, that's one (or more) lives that time you spend in a cell (and all that happened after it), has saved!
I got a chemical refusal test in new york. i went to the first court date in DMV and i am still waiting on another court date in the mail from them. i heard that there is a time frame that they have to schedule a court date or it can be thrown out. i heard that from a lawyer but he wasn't sure how long that is. does anyone know if that is true and if so how long do they have?
My daughter was arrested for a DUI. She was. Pulled over because she swerved into right shoulder about a foot when changing lanes to change freeway from the 55 to the 73. She on had 2 vodka sodas and stopped drinking about 2 hrs before driving her Boyfriend home. She was 1/2 mile from her distination when she was pulled over. She didn't feel any effects from the alcohol at this time. The chp asked her to get out of the car and had her do the sobriety tests. On tahe reports the officer said shenfailed all the tests.BS. The a teal results were 1. leg lift and hold 30 seconds. She did it without weaving or dropping her leg. The chp said she counted 30 seconds....chp said she finished satisfactory ! 2nd test..walk 9 steps and turn and walk 9 steps back. She walks the 1st nine fine and turned fine. On her return steps after adjusting to the chps patrol cars bright light...she had 2 inches between two of her heal toe steps....he failed her 3rd test..Modified Romberg test. Stand feet together , close your eyes, tilt your head back and count to 30 by 1-100, 2-100... She counted t 30 but the chp counted 32 sec. 2 seconds diff is failing!!! The test are ridiculous ! She then blew on the field breath test. .085 and .089. She was arrested and. Fought to Orange County Jail. They did blood test that bruised her arm so badly. Those results were .09! Supposedly her bodynwas still in absorption when she was driving which means the breath tests were about .02 off whichbwould.put her at .065 not .085. Our lawyer went to the arraignment date at court but no charges have been filed yet. we don't even have another date! I'm not sure whats going on. Our DMV hearing is 12/21 and we have an expert toxicologist that state the facts of the blood levels prove she wasn't over the limit while driving . Hoping that we cause the suspension to be thrown out. If not we will appeal to Sacramento. My daughter can't have a restricted lice se and keep her job.
Hi! I'm sorry for the experience you are having with your daughter. May I ask how old your daughter is? My son (16) just got a DUI in Laguna Beach. He had an accident which was heard but not seen and he was not driving when the police came to the car but he was behind the wheel with the car turned off. This just happened on Feb 20 and I'm trying to find the best way to proceed and am wondering if other parents can help. My email is **************. Thank you.
I'm curious, how did this one turn out. I have a similar circumstance. i blew a 0.082 and blood 0.09

North Carolina here....I got charged with a DWI in front of my house and wasn't pulled over. I spent about 12 hrs locked up..but thanks to my friend bailing me out, $500 or I would have been locked up for 45 days. WTF. I was thrown around and refused sanitary items... therefore I bled on myself. I feel so violated...but I can't find a lawyer that will take my case. I am still searching because I cant let those sorry officers get away with this.

I am pending a DUI and I blew a .000, they then took a urine test, been almost a month and no word yet. (17 HOURS IN JAIL- WHICH WAS PURE HELL) I do have perscriptions but I do not take my meds til the afternoon or before bedtime and they are both very small dosages. Never affected my driving, I was on the road for approximely .1 of a mile, 14 seconds by the time I was pulled over, not even a 1/2 mile from my home (Going to walmart to beat the busy traffic). Once I see if the charge is no longer pending and they charge me I will get the best lawyer I can afford because this was BS. I am 56 and never been in trouble and DON'T drink! I wish I could sue that sherriff for what he did to me because I now suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. Be careful out there as this could happen to anyone!

Oregon here. Had a night out drinking and playing darts. Always paced myself (Gotta remain accurate throwing those things)then waited about 1 hour afterward. felt fine "very light buzz" I took a swig of beer to wet my mouth (Literally). I drove home having cops pass me and I pass them, there must have been 10 cops out on a stretch of road 7 miles long, each pulling someone over. I was in the right lane and a cop car (I didn't know it was one until it finally passed) was in the left lane. It would speed up, get even with my rear bumper then slow waaaay down. He repeated this several times until he passed. I got paranoid during this process. I kept glancing at my speedometer to make sure I was maintaining speed and began to get suspicious that I was being tailed by a drunk driver. I finally got to by street and turned down it. It was about 1 in the morning and I was going around 30. (I could have sworn it was just under). I am heading northbound and a cop heading southbound on this 2 lane side-street passes me, pulls a u-turn and pulls me over. stated I was going 31 mph in a 25 mph zone. he smells my breath. runs me through the field sobriety test.( He did the follow the pen test wrong....held it in the periphery way too long) and said I failed all of them. He takes me to jail and makes small talk. I figured all of this is just a formality and that the breathalyzer would show my innocence. I Blew, result .081. I was shocked. I blew a second time .075 and the third time was .073. I speculate the smell and the initial high result was the "last swig" on the way out the door. I breathed a sigh of relief. I am under .08. NOPE Here in Oregon, as I assume elsewhere, it is the sole decision of the arresting officer. I go through all of the rigamorole of prints and booking and was released 15 minutes later after calling my wife to pick me up. I hired an Attourney and we weighed everything. The DA kept postponing. it was almost 8 months before going to court. My attorney had a bad feeling about it and suggest we just plea guilty. I had to go through a diversion program. It was 6 weeks of talking to each other. There was actually a women in there that had blown a .04! No I must make sure I am squeaky clean otherwise I get slammed with 2 if I get caught again.

Same s**t happened to me, I had been drinking, dropped some friends off at a bar, went and got food at Taco Bell, and pulled over for a busted headlight, crammed into a little holding cell with about 30 guys, was held for 26 hrs, I didn't know what to do about my court date, but all the guys in the cell said the same thing "slap on the wrist" just plead guilty. I did and it has been hell ever since, my food did stink up the car and all i could think about while I was in the cell is how I didn't get to eat my food..........

You wouldn't have done any better with a DUI lawyer. If you blow a .08 or over, it's a done deal. All a DUI lawyer will do is milk you for money. I spent $3500 on a DUI lawyer and he wanted another $1500 for the DMV hearing, which HE LOST after 5 postponements.

I'm facing a 2nd oui and could lose my job among other things. I got pulled over because my headlights weren't on. The cop who pulled me over told me to turn them on and LET ME GO! I told him my headlight switch was on and it must be a malfunction. I thought it could have been a loose circuit and they would come on. I nervously drove away. Approximately 30 secs-1 minute I got pulled over again. Of course there were 3 cop cars ganging on me. The officer said he warned me to turn my lights on and because I didn't, he suspected I might have been drinking. I have repair shop paperwork and articles to prove my headlight switch malfunctioned and needed to be repaired.
I was pulled over and arrested for a DUI in California about a year ago. I hired an attorney, and he pretty much handled everything for me. I kept my license the entire time which was awesome, becuase I drive for a living. He was able to get the charge reduced to a wet and reckless, thank god, becuase I probably would've lost my job. Needless to say, I am NEVER going to drive drunk again. I used my nine lives on that one.
who was your attorney? What city?
My DUI lawyer didn't do a thing for me. Granted, I got the cheapest one I could find, and I think I got screwed out of $1,200. He basically talked to me for five minutes, went to court, made a few weak arguments and pleaded me off. Others at my court date had lawyers that came prepared, had arguments, counter arguments to the DA, and actually got their client big reductions.
If you can afford it, always get the best DUI lawyer you can get. You would be surprised how much of a difference it can make. The DA has zero tolerance for drunk driving, and is under a lot of public pressure to cram down on offenders. If you walk into the courtroom without representation, you will get the maximum penalty. On the other had, if you have a lawyer that knows the laws in your state, and is familiar with the local court, you'll be able to get the minimum sentence or even beat the charge. It really is a no-brainer.
Florida here. My DUI happened near Miami beach, and I blew 0.10. I hired an attorney friend of my dads, and he was able to get the charge dropped because of the place that I got pulled over, and the reason I was stopped. It a notorious u-turn area with a sign that appears to be for he previous intersection. My lawyer claimed the police pulled me over illegally so all charges were dropped.
My husband got a DUI a year ago, and I am still driving him to DUI classes every week. We were unable to get a restricted license in North Carolina. We also did not hire an attorney, and now I wish we had, because he blew a 0.09 and probably could have got it reduced to a lesser sentence. We just figured the judge would be lenient. Turns out, unless you know what you're doing, the court does pretty much whatever the DA's office chooses.
I got my DUI in New Jersey. Story was very similar, except that I did get a lawyer. He was able to get my fines reduced, as well as avoid any drivers license issues. I still got the DUI and got killed by insurance though.

Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Swipe to view more