Coronavirus disease, or commonly known as COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus spreads through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The virus has made a drastic change in how people live day by day. Strict laws and lockdowns have been implemented. Despite the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, some people still choose to disobey the law.
Driving under the influence in the time of COVID-19 will still get you arrested, but if you have a good attorney, going through the process won’t be too much of a challenge. However, you do have to stay aware of some changes.
Jail Sentence Options
When you get arrested for driving under the influence, the arresting officer has two options to choose from:
- They can put you in jail while waiting for the hearing
- They can send you home to wait for the arraignment
The process may vary from state to state. In some states, 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.
If you are arrested or taken into custody and have a DUI attorney, 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.
Extended DUI Cases
This is probably one of the first things your attorney 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 conducting hearings, using phones and video conferencing for their court dates.
If you’re lucky, your attorney can get you a virtual hearing for your DUI case. If not, you will 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 attorney 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.
In Polk County and Florida, if you are arrested for DUI and refuse the breath test, you will be charged with a DUI. After you have been arrested, you are taken to a holding cell within a jail until you can face a judge. The judge then sets a price for your bail, which is determined by the severity of the crime you have committed.
Remote DUI Schools
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 attorney.
Avoid DUI charges in Florida during this COVID-19 pandemic with the help of crime defense attorney Thomas C. Grajek’s legal expertise.
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.
This program aims to educate those who may be harmfully involved with alcohol and other drugs about the effects of these substances.
The possible fee for the remote AB541 program is more or less $200.
DMV Offices Limited Capacity
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.
If you are from Florida and have been arrested for DUI, you can apply for a Formal Review and receive a temporary permit to drive for “business purposes.”
“Learn everything you can so you’ll know what it is like to be arrested for DUI while pandemic restrictions are in place.”
Why You Wouldn’t Want To Be Arrested For DUI During COVID-1 FAQs
For DUI cases in Florida, your license will be suspended. The best thing that you can do about it is to apply for formal review so you will receive a temporary permit to drive for “business purposes.”
Business purpose is a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and medical purposes.
Driving without a license is considered a criminal offense in Florida and it comes with stiff consequences. If you are caught driving without a license, you will be issued an ID number.
However, if you just forgot to bring your driver’s license, fret not because it’s not a big deal. Simply bring your driver’s license to the clerk of the court where your charge is pending. Prepare to pay a $5 fee for the dismissal of your case.
In the first 24 hours of your DUI arrest, you will be taken to jail by the police. An officer will start asking you questions, then request to take your breath or blood sample. They will take your fingerprints and issue you a citation. You will be given a court date which will be listed on your citation.