Vehicle Seizure and Arraignment after Your DUI Arrest in Columbus
You just had a late dinner at The Elevator Brewery. You had a schooner of Three Frogs IPA with your light meal and then drove home in your brand new car. At a familiar corner, you consciously hurried through the stop sign when turning right. Wouldn’t you know it, a police officer was there to witness you almost come to a complete stop. The lights in your rearview mirror tell you that your night is about to get exciting. The IPA is giving off a pungent smell of alcohol. Even though you feel fine, you can see what is coming. Your first thought is what will happen to your car.
When an officer arrests you for DUI, if you are alone, he or she will have to decide what to do with your car. If you are in an out of the way place or in a parking lot, the officer may allow you to leave the car where it is, until a friend or family member can pick it up. They may even wait until that person arrives.
Otherwise, it is customary to have your car towed and impounded. You will usually be able to pick up the car at the tow lot with proof of ownership like a registration and photo ID. Do not take the advice of the tow company if they tell you to get a state ID. This will cancel your license and you will not be eligible for driving privileges. Call us for more details about how to proceed in this situation.
Your vehicle and life are on the line at your arraignment
Far too many people believe that they can handle their first court appearance or arraignment without the assistance or representation of an attorney. They figure they will see how it goes before they retain representation. The problem with this strategy is your arraignment determines many things about your case that may make your attorney’s job more difficult.
With respect to your vehicle, if it has been towed and impounded, you must obtain a release of your vehicle at your arraignment. According to the law, if you fail to do so, the court may hold your vehicle until the end of the case. Final release of your vehicle won’t occur until after you pay the tow and storage costs, unless the tow was unlawful. You should know that 90 days in a tow-lot could cost you over $3,000.
How do you plea?
At your arraignment, you have the right to have the charges read in open court. You must then enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Before you do so, you should be aware that the plea of not guilty is the only plea that gives you and your attorney flexibility to defend your case and investigate possible defenses.
A plea of guilty, no matter how much the arresting officer and booking clerk have tried to make you feel guilty, is a bad idea. When you plead guilty, it is game over. The judge must sentence you to mandatory jail time, license suspension, and fines. Never mind that it is your first offense or that you specifically remember having only one drink.
First things first
Your best strategy is to call us as soon after your arrest as possible. We will take care of details like your vehicle and your arraignment from there. In some cases, if your vehicle has not been impounded we can waive the necessity of the arraignment since we will be pleading not guilty. Or we may show up on your behalf and as your legal counsel enter your plea. Issues that you will need to appear for are addressing the release of an impounded car, driving privileges, and defects in the administrative license suspension, or ticket.
At your arraignment, you may also petition the court for driving privileges for work, medical, or other personal reasons.
This may seem like a lot to remember. It’s okay, you probably don’t do this for a living. We do. We know what to do for you and what to do next. We take care of you, your vehicle, and get you back on the road as soon as possible.