You hadn't been to the Henry Doorly Zoo for years, but your sister would never forgive you if you missed her cocktail party in the Desert Dome. You have to admit -- it was pretty cool. Even cooler after all those Old Fashioneds they kept pouring. Your brother in law offered you a ride home, but you said you were fine. You were fine getting out of the parking lot, but while looking for the on-ramp to I-80, you were pulled over and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). What happens next? Here is some information for what to expect in your DUI case in Omaha.
You may also wish to check out FindLaw's section on DUI Law for a general overview of DUI charges, cases and resources.
The Law in Nebraska
Nebraska law provides that it is a crime to "operate" or be in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Driving Under the Influence in Omaha can lead to criminal, as well as administrative proceedings and penalties. The penalties depend on whether you have prior convictions and how much alcohol was in your system, but even for a first offender can include a $500 fine, 7 to 60 days imprisonment, and having your driver's license revoked.
You probably will be interacting with the Omaha Police Department or the Nebraska State Patrol. An officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests (such as the One Leg Stand or the Walk and Turn) as well as a preliminary breath test. The officer can require you to take this preliminary breath test if he has reasonable grounds to believe you have alcohol in your body. In Omaha, and the rest of Nebraska, refusing even this preliminary test can lead to arrest and is considered a Class V misdemeanor (subject to a $100 fine).
Arrest and Criminal Proceedings
If the officer determines he has probable cause, he will likely arrest you and bring you back to the police station. Once there, you will probably be asked to take a chemical test measuring the alcohol content in your blood, breath or urine. By driving in Nebraska you are deemed to have already consented to this test and refusing to submit to it is considered a crime.
Depending on the circumstances and your history, you may be released on your own recognizance or you may be required to post bail. Generally, a number of court dates will be set for your case, including arraignment, pre-trial hearing and trial dates. Refer to the FindLaw section on DUI Court Procedure for more specifics on the typical process. Your hearings and trial (if you proceed that far) will likely be conducted at the Douglas County Courthouse.
Administrative Hearing or Interlock?
If you refuse to take, or fail, the chemical blood, breath or urine test, the officer will take your driver's license. Then the clock starts ticking on the administrative procedures and penalties. You will likely be provided a temporary driver's license valid for the next 15 days. After 15 days your license will be revoked.
You do have the right to fight the revocation of your license through an administrative hearing (you must request this within 10 days of the arrest).
However, under laws that went into effect at the beginning of 2012, you may waive your administrative hearing and instead request that an ignition interlock device be installed in your car. This option generally allows you to continue to drive to school, work, etc. If you elect instead to proceed to an administrative hearing to contest your license being revoked, you no longer have the interlock option available through the DMV. The Nebraska DMV encourages you to chose the interlock option through its "No Interlock No Keys" campaign.
If you decide to proceed to a hearing, here is some information from the Nebraska DMV as to what to expect.
It is typically recommended that you hire a lawyer to help you with the administrative and criminal aspects of your DUI charge. A DUI conviction can have a far-reaching impact on your life well after the arrest. Consequences range from increased insurance rates and requirements to disclosing the offense in employment applications. An attorney can help you present your best defenses, whether you end up resolving the matter through a plea bargain or trial. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to get representation through the Douglas County Public Defender's office.