Knowing what to expect from the legal process can help in dealing with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, which can be frightening and stressful in and of itself.
What follows is a general overview of what you need to know if you’re facing DWI charges for a first offense that doesn’t involve either bodily injury or death and aiding and abetting DWI, but remember that DWI laws are governed by state law, so details may vary depending on where you were charged and also whether you’re a minor.
DWI Procedures Before the Law
First, it’s crucial to know that, depending on the state, you could face charges for both DWI and a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. However, if you plead guilty or go to trial, the state might drop one of the charges.
Whatever the case may be, the first thing that happens after a DWI arrest is an arraignment, a hearing where the defendant is formally charged with a crime in front of a judge. You’ll be asked to enter a guilty or not guilty plea, but you can always change your mind later; therefore, you might want a DWI attorney. It’s easy to enter a not-guilty plea, and you may even be able to ask for a jury trial.
If you’re facing misdemeanor charges and cannot afford bond, you may be released on your own recognizance and told to return to court at your earliest convenience.
What To Do In The Event Of A First-time DWI Offense
The following tips will help you if you’re apprehended for driving while intoxicated:
- Cooperate. You must always give the police officer your full cooperation if you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Try your best to follow the officer’s instructions, even if you’re extremely drunk. Never get into an argument with a law enforcement official.
- Recover your vehicle. If a police officer arrests you for driving under the influence, they’ll guide you to the station. Towing your car will likely cost you money. You’ll be notified of the towing service that has taken possession of your vehicle and given its contact information. It’d help if you got in touch with the impounding towing service as soon as possible to make plans to get your car back and pay any fees that come with it.
- Get an attorney. It may take many hours from the time you arrive at the police station before you’re interviewed. It’ll take more time if this is your first offense. Intake personnel will collect your fingerprints and photograph you. An investigator or law enforcement official may want to know more about why you were arrested for DWI. You can speak with your attorney if you believe you’re being falsely accused.
- Pay the bond. How long you have to wait at the station after getting a DWI depends on a number of things, including where you were pulled over, how old you are, what your criminal history looks like, and how severely you were impaired. If the bond is set and you’re to be released, you can make arrangements with a bondsman, friend, or family member to pay the bond and pick you up from the station. Some crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences of immediate incarceration. However, you should expect to spend at least a few hours at the station while the details of your DWI accusation are ironed out.
- Submit to the process. If you’re caught driving while intoxicated, you’ll have to face legal consequences. You can hire your own attorney, or the judge can designate one for you. Keep your cool and act appropriately throughout the court case. If you’re asked a question, please answer it honestly.
Not knowing what to do or even making the wrong moves could make it difficult for your case.
Strategies For Handling A Drunk Driving Charge
You should start thinking about getting a DWI attorney or, if you cannot afford one, having one appointed for you after your arraignment. Again, state DWI laws vary widely; be sure your DWI attorney has experience with the laws in your state.
You and your attorney should discuss potential defense strategies for the DWI charge. These are the broad choices available:
- Admit guilt.
- Make an effort to negotiate a lesser charge.
- Put in a request for a judicial hearing.
- Insist on a trial by jury.
As part of a plea bargain, the defense and prosecution may agree to a conviction for reckless driving, also known as ‘wet reckless,’ because it typically involves alcohol. The defendant receives a reduced sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Please be aware that certain states have outlawed the wet reckless defense, though.
What It Comes Down To
Getting charged for driving under the influence might have far-reaching consequences. If found guilty, it can severely impact one’s ability to earn a living, as well as one’s access to specific jobs. Even if this is your first time being accused of DWI, you should treat it as seriously as any other criminal allegation. As quickly as possible, it’d help if you spoke with a DWI defense attorney who’ll review the details of your case and advise you on how to proceed effectively in the face of these accusations.