In the United States, 1 out of every 121 drivers is arrested for drunk driving each year. That roughly translates to about 1.5 million yearly drunk driving arrests. Regardless of your jurisdiction, any arrest for impaired driving comes with dire repercussions.
A DWI charge can be very unsettling, especially if you’re a driving while intoxicated first offense offender. That’s because apart from dealing with the United States judicial system, you also have to deal with the DMV. When both government organs clear your name is when you can heave a huge sigh of relief.
Your next couple of moves after a DIY charge will determine how severe the consequences of your DWI charge will be. In this post, we’ll be highlighting what steps you should take after a DWI charge and what to expect.
Driving While Intoxicated Definition
First things first, let’s look at what exactly a driving while intoxication or DWI charge is. A DWI is an offense one commits when operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a drug or alcohol. Drugs, in this sense, means anything from narcotics to prescription and non-prescription medicine.
As mentioned earlier, different states have varying laws regarding drunk driving. For most states, anyone charged with a DWI charge gets their license instantly suspended. You may have your license suspended for one and a half months or an entire year, depending on the severity of the charge
What to Do After a Driving While Intoxicated Charge?
If it’s your first-time DWI charge, then you have every right to feel worried, but don’t let apprehension get the better of you. If you take the appropriate steps, you can get a lighter penalty or even do away with the entire charge. If ever charged with a DWI charge, you should do the following:
Take a Chemical Test
The chemical test will give you an accurate figure for your blood alcohol level. If another substance is the cause of your intoxication, it will also show the amount of the substance in your blood. For most states, this drug test is mandatory.
It would be unwise to decline to take the chemical test. You’re better off failing the field sobriety test than flunking the chemical test. You’ll be in even much more trouble if you refuse to take the test.
To better your chances in court, just take the test. Even if the results may be unpleasant, it’s still a good idea to do so.
File a Bail Bond Agent
The police officer may release you from their hands without posting bail. However, in most cases, you’ll have to post bail before they let you go. In such cases, you’ll need the help of a bail bond agent.
If you opt for a bail bond agent, you’ll have to pay an upfront fee to the bond agent. Once you pay this upfront fee, the bail bond agent will pay your bond. An agent is also a guarantee that you will appear in all your court hearings.
If you can’t post bail at the moment of your arrest, then the bail bond agent will do it on your behalf. This is on condition that you never miss a court hearing, and you also reimburse the full amount once you’re done with the court.
Contact a Driving While Intoxicated Lawyer
You may be tempted to hire your usual lawyer to handle your DWI charge, but it may not be the best choice. Instead, look for a DWI attorney that has specialized in impaired driving cases. You’ll have better luck in court with an attorney who specializes in such cases.
Remember, you need a lawyer that will help you win the case, even if the odds are against you. A general attorney only represents you in court but doesn’t sway the court to rule in your favor. You can also choose to represent yourself, but it’s not the best idea.
Apply for a DMV Hearing
The department of motor vehicles or DMV is the body that ensures public safety and the safe operation of motor vehicles. You’ll have about ten days or two weeks to request a hearing with the DMV. The DMV will then decide whether you can keep your license.
Should you fail to request a DMV hearing, then the DMV will automatically revoke your license. It’s up to your attorney to help you request a DMV hearing. The hearing should be simple and straightforward.
Organize for Your Court Hearing
The most dreaded part about a DWI hearing is the court arraignment, but you have to enter your plea before you’re off the hook. With the right attorney, preparing for your court hearing should be a breeze. All you have to do is maintain your calm and have the key points on the fingertips.
The first rule of your DWI hearing is that you should never plead guilty. Doing so makes you culpable for the mistake, even if there’s insufficient evidence. If you plead not guilty, you’ll have an actual chance of winning the case.
A not guilty plea switches the hearing to the jury. This gives you a chance to explain your case and plead that you were not drunk while driving. You’re more likely to have a favorable hearing if your case is in the hands of the jury.
The DWI Charge Process
From the moment you’re arrested, and the time you go to court, there’s an entire underlying process. Here’s the DWI charge process.
The DWI Arrest
The arresting officer will pull you over if your driving seems uncoordinated and reckless. The officer will then check for visible signs of disorientation and confusion that underscore your impairment. However, the arresting officer can’t charge you for a DWI before taking a breathalyzer test.
The breathalyzer test analyzes your alcohol blood level to find out whether you’ve exceeded the allowable limit. If you’re 21 years and above, the allowable blood alcohol content or BAC shouldn’t exceed O.O8%. That means you shouldn’t have more than 0.08 grams of alcohol per every 100 ml of blood.
If you pass the breathalyzer test but still look visibly disoriented, then the officer might call in a drug recognition expert or DRE. The DRE ascertains whether you’re under the influence of any narcotics or drugs besides alcohol. The DRE does this through a multi-step evaluation process that conclusively establishes whether you’re under the influence of any drug.
Whether you’re intoxicated depends on what the state refers to as intoxication or drugged driving. Some prescription medicine may impair your judgement, meaning you can be charged with a DWI without even taking a sip of alcohol. However, most states will let you off with a warning if prescription medicine was the reason for your intoxication.
What Happens After Your Arrest?
A DIY charge attracts heavy consequences regardless of your state of residence. The arresting officer will book you, and you’ll be arraigned in court after several days. If the court finds you guilty, you may lose your license or pay a fine.
Second-time offenders may serve jail time depending on the severity of the charge. Maybe you’ll also get community service or probation for a second-time offense. Most offenders have to take defensive driving classes so that they can get their licenses back.
The court may order an evaluation of your drinking or drug habits to find if you need intervention. If you do, you’ll have to partake in an alcohol treatment program to cure your drinking habits. What type of treatment program you join depends on the results of your evaluation.
The DWI Conviction and Consequences
Should you be convicted for DWI and get your license suspended, you’ll have to wait for a while before you hit the road again. There’s a high chance that you’ll need to have SR-22 insurance when you get your license back. This insurance attracts higher premiums and could really put a dent in your bank account.
Expect to have the SR-22 insurance for about two to five years. For some states, you’ll require an ignition interlock device before you get back your license. The device requires you to blow into it before you can start the car.
You have to pay for the device’s installation and also for a monthly monitoring fee. If you combine the SR22 premiums and the ignition interlock device, you can see just how expensive drunk driving can be. Plus, you can lose the most precious item you own; your life.
Don’t Drink and Drive
A driving while intoxicated charge could cost you a lot of money and your driving license too. The next time you want to get on the wheel when you’re inebriated, think twice. That’s because a DWI charge isn’t the only thing you have to worry about; you also have to worry about your life.
You shouldn’t also read an online article while driving because it may distract you. When you’re not driving, you can check out all the other informative pieces on the site.