This lack of knowledge creates fear and anxiety for many offenders. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: education. To help calm your nerves, we’ve put together the following guide with eight things to do after an impaired driving charge. Keep these tips in mind as you recuperate from your arrest and prepare for your trial.

1. Take the Charge Seriously

Impaired driving is a serious crime—you could end up in jail, on probation, and/or without a driver’s license for several years. In Ontario, impaired driving offenders must go without a license for one year after the first offence. After a second offence, that length of time increases to three years. You might also receive a harsher punishment if you injured someone or caused property damage while you were impaired.

Impaired driving charges will also lead to increased insurance costs and could affect your ability to get a job, causing you excess financial stress.

Because you face serious consequences, you need to treat your case with respect.

2. Write Down the Details

In most cases, impaired driving cases come down to the details. As soon as the police release you, write down all the details of your arrest. Your memories of the event will fade after the first day, so do this as soon as possible.

Write down the following details:

  • The time and location of the traffic stop and arrest.
  • The reason your arresting officer gave for stopping you. Were you speeding? Running red lights? Swerving across the road?
  • The information you gave the officer about your whereabouts before the arrest. Did you tell the officer you were at a bar just hours before? Did you admit to drinking before you climbed in the car?
  • The tests the officer had you perform. Did you take a breathalyzer? Did you have to walk in a straight line or stand on one foot?

3. Hire a Lawyer with Experience in Impaired Driving Cases

Because the legal system is complex, you shouldn’t try to navigate it yourself. Hire a lawyer to help you make sense of your case and to defend you in court. Even if you are guilty of impaired driving, a lawyer can help you receive a less severe sentence.

4. Keep the Details of Your Arrest Private

After stressful or scary situations, most people talk to friends and family members to get a grip on the situation. No matter how much you want to vent your fears and frustrations to others, keep the details of your arrest to yourself.

When you share information about your case with others, you risk turning them into involuntary witnesses. If a judge or lawyer calls them to the witness stand, they’ll be legally obligated to talk about everything you told them.

5. Prepare for Your Court Hearing

If an impaired driving charge doesn’t scare you, a judge, jury, and courtroom might. As you prepare for your day in court, keep the following etiquette tips in mind.

  • Wear modest, conservative clothes. Suits, well-fitting skirts, blazers, and button-up shirts are all good choices for the courtroom. Avoid plunging necklines, short skirts, and tank tops.
  • Arrive early to your hearing. You’ll need to clear your schedule of work, school, and other appointments the day of your hearing to prevent a late arrival.
  • Treat the judges, jury, lawyers, and witnesses with respect. Make eye contact with people who address you. Do not yell or shout, and do not argue.
  • Use polite, respectful language. Do not swear or make crude references.

6. Attend Your Hearing

Although this may sound like common sense, a significant number of people completely ignore their court hearings. Others simply forget about them. In any case, neglecting your hearing will only lead to more legal trouble and a harsher punishment.

7. Abide by All Terms of Your Sentence

If a judge or jury convicts you of impaired driving, pay attention to the terms of your sentence. A judge might impose fines, revoke your license, put you on probation, and/or make you attend traffic courses. Whatever the case, follow these terms precisely and exactly. Disobedience might lead to jail time, expensive fines, and other punishments.

8. Work to Get Your Driver’s License Back

After an impaired driving conviction, you will lose your license for a set period of time. After this period passes, you will be eligible for a restricted driver’s license.

In order to receive a restricted license, you’ll need to meet all terms of your sentence. You’ll also need to demonstrate responsibility on the road. You may need to enroll in a traffic course, and you should take care to obey all traffic laws. Most importantly, do not drive without a license.

An impaired driving charge has the potential to affect your life for many years, but by taking these steps, you can secure a better future for yourself. As you prepare for your trial, remember to consult with your lawyer about the best course of action for your case.