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Why You Wouldn’t Want to Be Arrested For DUI During COVID-19

— January 13, 2021

It may be a little different nowadays because of health and safety restrictions. Even if the economy has slowly reopened, most courts are yet to go back to full operations.

Getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) conviction is not easy since the process is complicated. Violators are either sent to a DUI school program or required to spend time in jail. There are also costly fines to pay. With COVID-19 and its health and safety restrictions, the process gets even more complicated. 

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the course of things for everyone – for every individual, business, organization, agency, and family. Legal procedures have also been greatly affected. Court hearings for DUI cases remain essential, even if scheduling one is quite challenging. Yes, offenders will still be arrested, although there is a significant change in the process. This is why it is important to have a good lawyer experienced and knowledgeable in DUI defense strategy. 

A DUI lawyer will help you get familiar with the updated processes and laws implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, it is also vital to learn everything you can so you’ll know what it is like if you are arrested for DUI while pandemic restrictions are in place. 

DUI Arrests in the Time of COVID-19 

Driving Under the Influence in the time of COVID-19 will still get you arrested, but if you have a good lawyer, going through the process won’t be too much of a challenge. However, you do have to stay aware of some changes. 

Jail Time or Wait at Home 

The arresting officer has two options to choose from: to put you in jail while waiting for a hearing or to send you home to wait for the arraignment. The process varies from state-to-state – in some, the arraignment starts one day after the arrest, while in other states, the offender has to wait at least 45 days after the charges were first filed. 

It may be a little different nowadays because of health and safety restrictions. Even if the economy has slowly reopened, most courts are yet to go back to full operations. As such, court hearings are typically done online via video conferencing or over the phone, depending on which state the violation happened.

DUI graphic
DUI graphic; image courtesy of Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay,

If you are arrested and taken into custody and have a DUI lawyer, your attorney can speak and negotiate on your behalf, especially if you are considered a high-risk individual and with the COVID-19 restrictions still in place. 

DUI Cases May Last Longer 

This is probably one of the first things your lawyer will tell you. Since most courts are extending court dates, you should expect to wait for several months before your case can move forward. In several states, the jury trials have been moved to “sometime in the future”, with no specific month, date, or even year, and with no concrete timetable. Everything depends on the current global health crisis. 

Nevertheless, even if the courts start setting dates again, many jury trial backlogs are expected. Getting a schedule won’t be that easy then. 

However, some courts have shifted to digital means in delivering hearings, using phones and video conferencing for their court dates. If you’re lucky, your lawyer can get you a virtual hearing for your DUI case; if you’re not, you’ll have to remain in custody until your court date or until the arresting officer allows you to go home and wait for your arraignment orders there. 

On a brighter note, a longer processing period will give your DUI lawyer more time to do legal research, continue or carry out additional investigations, locate and convince favorable witnesses to testify, and probably come up with an agreement or a compromise that benefits both parties. 

Online DUI School Programs 

DUI school programs are still part of the consequences you can get for Driving Under the Influence. However, because of the COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing protocols, these are done online or remotely. You can wait for the physical programs to reopen in your state, but this remote option allows you to complete the classes on time. 

If you prefer face-to-face classes, you’ll have to wait until the pandemic is gone. Until such time, your DUI status will be classified as an indefinite Leave of Absence. Not all states and programs provide this option, so you might want to verify this with your lawyer.

Virtual AB541 Classes for First-time Offenders 

If you are a first-time DUI offender, you are required to complete 34 hours of AB541 classes. This three-month program is currently done remotely via Zoom. You’ll have access to counseling, group meetings, one-on-one interviews, and individual or group sessions. The possible fee for the remote AB541 program is more or less $200. 

DMV Offices 

Several DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) offices are open but operating at only 50% capacity. Some accept walk-ins, but many require visitors to set up appointments. Likewise, all DMV offices require strict adherence to social distancing and health and safety protocols such as the mandatory wearing of face masks. 

These are just some of the challenging aspects that you will possibly encounter if you get arrested for DUI at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Would you still want to be caught driving under the influence then? Again, the processes and laws vary by state, so you should get in touch with your DUI attorney if you want specific or detailed information. 

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