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Driving under the influence. It's a common mistake -- one that can carry enormous consequences for your license, your bank account, and perhaps even your freedom.
If you've made the mistake of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, FindLaw.com has a number of online resources to help guide you through the legal system every step of the way.
From your initial traffic stop to your day in court, here are five helpful (and free!) FindLaw resources and how to get the most out of each:
1. A General Overview of DUI Law.
When researching any topic, it's best to begin with a broad overview. Though DUI laws vary by state, and sometimes even by county, we've prepared a handy PDF guide that covers information common to most jurisdictions. You can read it online, download it, or print it out to share with family and friends.
In addition, our Learn About the Law section has dozens of additional pages of more specific DUI information, such as potential defenses and possible punishments.
2. Myths About Drinking and Driving.
Despite the social stigma and the commonality of DUI charges, myths still surround drunken (and drugged) driving, such as the belief in a hard blood-alcohol concentration limit (0.08 percent is the limit generally, but in most states, you can actually be charged with a sub-0.08 percent BAC). And no, the many urban legends about beating Breathalyzers (chewing pennies? Really?) don't work.
One of our newest DUI resources is a one-page PDF that busts seven common myths about drinking and driving and provides you with true information that will (hopefully) keep you out of the driver's seat (and jail) next time you've had one too many.
3. A Look at Local DUI Cases.
Now that you have a general overview of DUI law, and have had your myths busted, it's time to learn how DUI cases are handled where you live. FindLaw's State Laws section now includes helpful pages on DUI cases for dozens of U.S. metro areas to help you understand exactly what you're facing.
For example, FindLaw's recently launched Los Angeles Laws page covers basic DUI facts for Southern California (did you know that first-time DUI offenders in L.A. County are required to install an ignition interlock device, while their neighbors in Orange County are not?)
To find local DUI case information for a metro area near you, head to our State Laws section, click on your state, and then find your nearest major city.
4. How to Get to Court.
Having trouble finding your local courthouse? Does your court paperwork list a strange and unfamiliar location, such as the Stanley Mosk Courthouse? Never fear, our State Laws section also includes lists of local courthouses and their websites.
Again, using Los Angeles as an example, here are all of the (way too many) courthouses, along with contact information and a map.
5. Find an Experienced DUI Lawyer.
It's said that a lawyer who represents himself (or herself) has a fool for a client. That platitude is doubly true for a layperson who tries to represent himself or herself in a DUI case.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets (or wants) a public defender for a DUI case. That's where FindLaw's DUI Lawyer Directory can help, offering a searchable list of local attorneys who have the experience in DUI defense that you need. Many lawyers even offer free consultations -- just call one up and ask.
Dealing with a DUI charge can seem daunting, but you don't have to go through the process alone. Let FindLaw.com help you get the facts about DUI laws and connect you with the professional legal guidance you deserve.