If you have been charged with a DUI in Delaware, you probably have a lot of questions. Facing a DUI charge can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you have never been charged with a crime before. The DUI process can be complex, and fighting DUI charges in Delaware requires a multi-pronged legal approach. We recommend consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you speak to a DUI lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can begin investigating your case and preparing your defense.
Stage 1: The DUI Arrest
The first stage of a DUI is arrest. Police officers in Delaware must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is engaged in a crime to pull him or her over. Once they pull over a driver, they look for signs of drunk driving. If they find probable cause, they can subject the driver to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test. When an officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated, the officer will arrest the driver.
At the time of a DUI arrest, the police officer will take your driver’s license. The officer will leave you with a temporary paper driver’s license that is only valid for 15 days. This is the best time to contact a skilled DUI defense lawyer who will advise you on your legal options. Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the procedure for extending your temporary driving license and trying to restore your permanent driving privileges.
Stage 2: Obtaining a Temporary License
After you are arrested for a DUI, you will need to request an administrative hearing with the Division of Motor Vehicles. The purpose of the hearing is to request that the department extend your temporary driver’s license. If you fail to request a hearing and an extension, the DMV will revoke your driving privileges. You will be required to take a mandatory DUI rehabilitative class, even if you eventually win your court case. When you request an administrative hearing, one of the key benefits is that your temporary driver’s license will automatically be extended for 120 days, giving you time to create a strategy.
Stage 3: Attending the Administrative Hearing
The administrative hearing is important because it will determine whether the police officer who arrested you had probable cause to arrest you. It will also determine whether there is any reliable evidence that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you are arrested. Show the administrative law judge rule against you, and the court will automatically revoke your driving privileges for 90 days. You will be required to complete DUI training.
Should the administrative law judge rule in your favor, you will have your driver’s license returned to you. Remember that you will still need to win your criminal DUI case to keep your driving privileges even if you are successful at this stage. The DUI defense lawyers at Schwartz & Schwartz have successfully navigated many administrative hearings on behalf of their clients facing DUI charges. We know what types of evidence to present and how to make effective arguments at the administrative hearing.
Stage 4: Plea Bargain
Many DUI cases result in a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to lesser criminal charges. The prosecution benefits because they do not have to take a case to court. The defendant benefits because they will not face severe penalties if they are more serious DUI charges. Prosecutors have a track record of pressuring defendants into taking plea Bargains prematurely.
Indeed, plea bargains can be effective in some instances. However, prosecutors sometimes push plea bargains when they know they do not have enough evidence to convict a DUI defendant. We recommend consulting with a skilled DUI defense lawyer before you speak to the prosecutor or agree to a plea bargain. We will advise you whether the plea bargain is your best legal option and help you understand the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain. Our lawyers will review the evidence the prosecution has and the evidence you have and help you develop the best possible legal strategy.
Stage 5: Criminal Trial
If you decide to enter a plea bargain, your case will not go to trial. Instead, you will enter a plea of guilty and serve the sentence given to you by the court. If you do not agree to a plea bargain, your case will proceed to a criminal trial. Your defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate your DUI case and gather witness testimony and evidence to prepare for your trial. Your lawyer will also obtain a copy of the DUI report from the police and any video recording of the arrest from police body camera footage.
Depending on the facts in your case, your lawyer may file a motion to suppress your blood or breath alcohol test results, especially if there is an insufficient basis for the police to stop the vehicle. When police officers do not have enough probable cause to support administering a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test, your defense lawyer can ask the court to throw out the evidence they gathered against you. Should the court throw out the police’s evidence from the arrest, prosecutors will often dismiss the charges against you.
Our criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in DUI cases. We understand how Delaware prosecutors operate, and we know how to fight against our clients’ DUI charges effectively.
Contact a Delaware DUI Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one are facing a DUI charge in Delaware, the penalties are serious. Even if you are facing a first-time DUI, you could lose your license and face jail time. The criminal defense lawyers Schwartz & Schwartz are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we will fight for your rights.