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3 Things You Can Do Before DUI Court To Improve Your Sentence

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DUI sentencing can have serious effects on your life and your livelihood. If you're convicted of driving under the influence, you could face stiff fines, prolonged loss of your driver's license, and even jail time. There are many ways to defend yourself against DUI charges, but it's also wise to prepare for the possibility that you will be convicted, especially if you actually were under the influence at the time. There are ways to reduce the severity of a DUI sentence, and the actions you take before your court date can have a real impact. Take a look at a few things you can do before court that can help you get a more favorable sentence.

Complete a Substance Abuse Evaluation

A substance abuse evaluation is an assessment that is used to determine whether or not you have a drug or alcohol dependence and how serious that dependence might be. If you've been charged with a DUI and you are eventually convicted, you will almost certainly have to take a substance abuse evaluation at some point in the process – in most states, they're required of people convicted of DUI.

So why not wait until you find out whether or not you're convicted before taking the evaluation? Having the substance abuse evaluation before your court date is a way to show the court that you're taking the charge seriously and that you're proactively trying to address the problem. If the evaluation shows that you don't have a substance abuse problem, your attorney has a better argument that the occurrence was a one-off not likely to be repeated. If you do have a substance abuse problem, you can begin to get help for it, showing that you don't need to be ordered by the court to take responsibility for the problem. Either way, it's a win.

Enroll in DUI School

There are several good reasons to enroll in DUI school while you're awaiting trial – not least of which is that it may be necessary to get your license reinstated or to get a hardship license approved if your license was administratively suspended after your arrest. If you're like most people who drive regularly, you probably need to be able to drive legally just to get to and from work and meet your family obligations. You may not be able to wait until your day in court to start working on getting your license back, and DUI school is something that you can do right away.

Even if you can wait on getting back behind the wheel, attending DUI school while you're waiting for your court date still saves time. If you're convicted, you'll be ordered to complete the course anyway, and you'll have one less thing to do. If you aren't convicted, completing a DUI course still won't hurt you. What's more, the judge or prosecutor may be more likely to consider a diversion program or reduced sentence if they see that you've already taken this step.

Volunteer for Community Service

It's common for community service to be part of the sentence for a DUI conviction. If your lawyer thinks that you're likely to be convicted of your DUI charge, they may recommend that you go ahead and begin community service. Like a substance abuse evaluation and DUI school, starting community service early gives your attorney a bargaining chip to work with during sentencing and shows that you're responsible and proactive about your situation.

However, there are a couple more reasons why starting community service before the trial can be a good thing. Once you're sentenced to community service, the court will assign a probation officer to monitor your progress in complying with the sentence. And you'll pay a fee for this monitoring service. If you complete even some of the hours that will be required of you before sentencing, and if the judge agrees to credit those hours, you will probably save money on probation fees.

What's more, beginning community service before the trial allows you to choose the kind of community service you want to do. If you wait for sentencing, the judge may decide for you. If you think you'd rather shelve books at the library than pick up trash on the side of the road, starting your community service early is a good plan.

When you're expecting a DUI conviction, taking one or more of these steps before court can really help you during the sentencing phase. However, be sure to consult your DUI lawyer before taking any of these steps – you don't want to do anything that will damage the legal strategy that your lawyer thinks is most appropriate for your case.