Few things are scarier than being pulled over by the cops and charged with a DWI. It’s frustrating, intimidating, and potentially life-altering. However, understanding what to do (and what not to do) will help you obtain the best possible outcome.
Consequences Of A DUI
While driving under the influence (DUI) and DWI might be the most common criminal offense in the United States, that doesn’t make it any less serious. The ramifications of a DUI can haunt you for years. This includes both short-term and long-term consequences like:
1. Driver’s Licence Revocation
You could lose your driver’s license for up to two years after your first conviction. This can prove to be a huge burden – even preventing you from holding down a steady job for DWI.
2. Employment Challenges
Most employers run background checks when hiring and are uncomfortable hiring someone who has a DUI conviction on their record.
3. Fines And Fees
The initial fines and fees can cost you several thousand dollars right off the bat. You may also have to pay for driver’s education courses and other classes.
4. Increased Auto Insurance Rates
This is the big kicker. As soon as you’re convicted of a DUI, you enter into what insurance companies consider a “high risk” category. This can lead to a doubling or even tripling of your rate for several years.
While it’s hard to put an exact figure on the cost of a DWI conviction – it varies by state and circumstance – you’re looking at a minimum of several thousand dollars (and most likely $10,000 to $20,000 in costs). In the case of a teenage driver, it can be $40,000 or more over a period of 13 years.
How To Handle A DUI Charge
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you must look for every possible way to have the charges reduced or dropped.
The very first step is to hire a DWI attorney who can help you make sense of your case and work with you to choose the best possible path forward. But don’t just hire any old attorney you hear on the radio. Make sure you’re hiring the right attorney.
Far to the lawyers plead their clients guilty without showing any real investigating proof and before they prosecute any pretrial dispute attorney J. Michael Price II mentions.
“In my cases, pleading guilty is the last resort rather than a first option, and never takes place until a complete and thorough investigation and review of all the evidence has occurred.”
You want an attorney who is experienced and has a bulldog-like mentality. This isn’t the time to play nice – you need to carefully explore every angle of your case so that you can get your charges reduced or dropped. Here are several possible defenses:
1. The Legality Of The Stop
Contrary to popular belief, a police officer can’t simply decide to pull someone over. There has to be a legal reason for doing so.
“Generally, police need probable cause to stop your vehicle, and if they’re going to arrest you for a DUI, they need probable cause for that too,” NOLO mentions. “ To stop the traffic, police are likely to have multiple DWI causes if there’s reason to believe the driver or someone else in the vehicle has broken the law.”
Consider the arresting officer’s reasoning for pulling you over. Did he pull you over simply because you were driving on a backroad late at night? Or was there a legitimate reason?
2. Miranda Rights
Police are required to read you your Miranda Warnings before placing you under arrest and questioning you. If you’re placed under custody without having your rights read to you, the DWI case will most likely be thrown out.
(At the very least, anything you told law enforcement after being taken into custody will be inadmissible in court.)
3. Test Accuracy
Breathalyzers and other field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate and inconsistent. It may be worth challenging the accuracy of the test. If it can be shown that the test was inaccurate (or unreliable), your DWI case will be dismissed.
4. Medical Condition
Believe it or not, there are certain medical conditions that can make people appear drunk. Additionally, certain conditions like diabetes will even give off an alcohol-like smell on someone’s breath and cause a breathalyzer test to register the presence of alcohol.
Adding It All Up
Being charged with a DWI or DUI is serious business. If you’ve recently been charged, you must lawyer up and fight for it to be dropped or reduced. It won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible.