What To Do If You Find Out You Have A DUI Warrant
Under normal circumstances, if you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you will be released on bail but be required to appear in court to face charges for the offence. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge.
If you don’t show up for the hearing, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. A warrant exposes you to several disadvantages. For example, if the police stop you during any of their routine stops and find out that there is a warrant for your arrest, you will be arrested and incarcerated pending bail. At the same time, a warrant is a matter of public record, which means anyone looking for information about you can find it.
How can there be a DUI warrant on me without my knowledge?
It is very common for warrants that are issued not to be served in good time or at all. Even if a warrant is not served, it still stands. At the same time, a warrant does not have a statute of limitation. Eventually, you will still have to face the law.
The main reason why DUI warrants are not served immediately after they are issued is due to lack of resources in police departments in many areas. This lack of resources forces the police departments to prioritize other important aspects of their operations.
What do I do if I find out I have a DUI warrant?
If for one reason or another you have failed to appear in court for a DUI charge, it is almost certain that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. The best way to deal with it is to go to court and face the charges. You don’t want such a blemish on your record to derail you or rob you of an important opportunity. Just address it because it will not go away even if you ignore it.
One of the easiest ways to get rid of the warrant is to make a court appearance or have an attorney appear on your behalf. The best attorney to hire is one who is familiar with that particular jurisdiction. Hiring an attorney is always a good step to take, especially if you are facing a felony DUI.
Can I do it myself?
Yes. Some court systems have processes that allow people to deal with their warrants without the threat of getting arrested. However, it is up to you to initiate the process as the court does not have a duty to inform you of your options.
Although there is no obligation to hire an attorney for this process, it is important to note that the procedure is entirely discretionary. The judge holds considerable discretion in either revising the terms of your bail or even revoking it all together and forcing you to do some jail time.
Types of DUI
In order to be in a better position to go through the process of dealing with a DUI, it is important to understand the different types of DUI. Let’s look at some of them in more detail:
Misdemeanor versus felony DUI
In most cases, if you are a first offender, you will most likely face just a charge for a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor charge comes with varying degrees of punishment. Under a misdemeanor, jail time does not exceed 12 months. You also don’t lose civil rights such as your right to vote or serve on a jury.
A DUI felony, on the other hand, will arise, for example, if your drunk driving ends up causing an accident involving another vehicle, person or property. You might end up serving a one year sentence or more and pay fines proportionate to the crime.
Alcohol versus drugged driving
Although both fall under DUI, there is a difference between being under the influence of drugs and being under the influence of alcohol. A person will be accused of being under the influence of the substance that they test positive for at the time of arrest. However, unlike alcohol, drugs are not always easy to test on the spot. Drugged driving occurs when a driver is found to be intoxicated by both drugs and liquor when being arrested.
Levels of offences
Most first offence DUIs are treated as misdemeanor offences. The penalties depend on the level of intoxication and could include mandatory classes such as alcohol abuse treatment.
Second and third offences carry harsher penalties than first offences. Your license can be revoked for two to three years and jail time can range from 30 days to a year depending on the severity of the case.
Randy Collins is the owner of the Law Offices of Randy Collins, a criminal defense law firm that assists those facing a variety of different charges.