Learn how to fight a DUI charge in court or out of court.

Don't make the classic mistake of thinking a DUI ticket automatically spells a conviction, because in many instances that's simply not the case. Getting pulled over for Driving Under the Influence ("D.U.I.") is just the first step in a long legal chain that the state (or city) must fight in order for you to ultimately be proven guilty.

I'll assume that you've recently been charged with DUI, and are looking for help on fighting the ticket, so I won't go into all the technical mumbo jumbo regarding our country's legal system. But what I will do is explain how your case is not hopeless, regardless of how "open and closed" it may seem. It doesn't matter if you've blown 1/1,000th over the legal limit on the breathalyzer or were pulled from your car after driving the wrong way through a kids' day care, you do have a chance of winning in court.

Step 1: Get a DUI lawyer.

There's no substitute for official legal advice (speaking of which, this column is NOT official legal advice, so don't consider it as such. Doing so could get you and I both in trouble, and then I'd have to charge you a $100 legal consulting fee... it's just not worth it).

So find yourself a good lawyer, preferably a DUI attorney or one with plenty of experience fighting DUI tickets.

How do you know if a lawyer is good? Many cities have websites where clients can rank their experiences, Google some and see what pops up. If that doesn't work, you can always count on the guys who represent celebrities and politicians. They don't come cheap, but they didn't reach the A-list market without a serious skill set.

Always remember that shopping for a lawyer is no different than shopping for any type of professional consultant. They'll all have advantages and disadvantages, but they'll also have unique personalities. Just because someone has a great record in court doesn't mean you should put up with their punk attitude. Then again, maybe you should. Again, I'm not soliciting advice here, just throwing out things to keep in mind.

Speaking of which, don't forget that it is okay to shop around. If you were building a house, would you automatically give the job to the first carpenter you talked to? Of course not, you'd speak with several of them, then evaluate their bids and then, finally, you'd make your choice. You can do this with attorneys, too.

Everything else I mention should be bounced off your lawyer...

Step 2: Be Cool With The Police And Authorities

Never underestimate how far a good attitude will take you. Nobody likes punks, and if you position yourself as one, you might find yourself on the "I'm gonna make sure this guy gets the full effect of the law" legal battlefield.

Besides, if your attorney can show that you're actually a fine, outstanding person who simply made a mistake (and is really sorry), you might find that it's easier to get a little sympathy. Not necessarily, but it never hurts.

Imagine yourself as a police officer, prosecuting attorney or even judge. If someone swore at you, called you names and yelled, would you be inclined to cut them some slack? I know I wouldn't. And all these people are ultimately human beings.

Step 3: Don't Do Anything Stupid Before Your Court Date

For that matter, don't do anything stupid ever.

But seriously, don't do anything that could jeopardize your "terms" of being released. Most likely, your driver's license will be suspended at least until you've been to court. If that's the case, don't push your luck by driving. Should you get pulled over with a suspended license with an outstanding DUI case pending, you've basically signed your own death warrant in terms of getting off from your DUI charges.

Heck, for that matter, you've pretty much solidified your chances of spending some extra time in jail.

You want to keep your nose as clean as possible. This kind of goes along with Step 2, because you want your defense attorney to categorize you as a law-abiding, rule-adhering citizen.

Is this a hassle? Sure. Knowing that you can't even drive to the corner store for a gallon of milk can become awful frustrating. But resist the urge to fudge the rules, the consequences can be disastrous to your case. Instead, learn to think ahead, and consolidate your trips as much as possible. You'll probably find yourself thinking creatively, like learning your local bus routes and buying your buddies lunches for rides.

If you really want to make the best out of this bad situation, consider walking, jogging or riding your bike. You might actually lose weight and increase your fitness levels as a result.

Step 4: Be Proactive - Show You're Serious About Your DUI Situation

Find out what courts typically "inflict" onto those found guilty for DUI, and do them yourself. For instance, most judges will sentence DUI offenders to mandatory alcohol abuse classes. Take the initiative and start going to these on your own. Even if you don't think you have an alcohol problem. Bite your lip if you have to. But by doing this you'll show that you're serious about "making yourself better."

Find out what the courts typically require guilty parties to go through, then go through it yourself.

Step 5: Don't Plead Guilty

It may sound funny, especially in the face of the evidence that the police have gained from the traffic stop, but if you plead guilty you don't stand a chance of fighting a DUI charge successfully. That's because you'll never have a chance to make any arguments on your behalf.

That's not to say that you won't be found guilty, but by pleading guilty you've officially opted out of the court hearing process. Definitely talk with your lawyer before doing anything, but by pleading guilty you won't have a chance to take your DUI case to court. That means you won't be able to plea bargain down or even beat DUI charges all together.

Step 6: Listen To Your DUI Attorney

I've listed out some good ideas to consider, but remember that only a qualified lawyer is the final authority. He or she might have other ideas, and in those instances you should take them up on their opinions, not mine. Doing so will give you the best chance of fighting a DUI charge.