Have you ever gotten behind the wheel when you know you shouldn’t? Over 1.5 million individuals get arrested for driving while intoxicated every year. This includes those caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you are a part of this statistic, then you’re likely in need of some DWI help.
How should you handle your arrest? Should you plead guilty or fight the charges? Do you need a lawyer? Get the answers to all these questions and more below.
1. Analyze Your Arrest
If you got charged with a DWI, then police likely stopped you while you were driving. The authorities may have given you a sobriety test or a breathalyzer.
Either way, you found yourself in the backseat of a cruiser on your way to jail.
The best thing you can do first is to comply. There’s no sense in trying to argue with the officers who arrested you or those booking you. If you do, then it may make your situation worse.
When you have a clear mind, you need to analyze what happened. Start thinking about what happened during the arrest from start to finish. Were your rights violated? Did you cause an accident or violate traffic laws to cause the stop?
Be honest with yourself — were you intoxicated?
Analyzing what happened will help you determine what options you have next.
2. Consider Potential Defense Strategies
Next, you’ll want to start considering the potential defense strategies available to you. Consider the specific circumstances of your arrest. Why? Not every defense will work in your situation.
Here are some of the most common DWI defense strategies that work:
- Police had no probable cause to stop your car
- You were not read your rights before cops questioned you
- There was a valid reason for appearing intoxicated (medical conditions, fatigue)
- Faulty breathalyzer test
- You were driving impaired out of necessity to prevent a greater evil
- Involuntary intoxication
It’s important for you to consider these options while using your best judgment. If you don’t think a defense strategy will work, then it likely isn’t strong enough to hold up in court.
That brings us to your next step — determining how you will plead.
3. Determine How You Will Plead
Analyzing your arrest and considering your potential defenses are important steps. After, you should have a clear picture of your options. Use that information to determine how you will plead.
You have the option of pleading either guilty or not guilty.
During your initial arraignment, there’s no real benefit to pleading guilty. If you do, then you may get offered a plea deal. But, you also won’t have a chance to defend yourself against your DWI charge.
Most accused individuals plead not guilty at their arraignment. If you do, then the judge will set a future court date for you. If you choose to, then you can always change and decide to plead guilty later.
4. Hire Representation
During your arraignment, the judge will ask you if you have representation. They’ll ask if you want a court-appointed lawyer or if you plan on hiring one.
Whether you decide to plead guilty or not guilty, you need a lawyer. An attorney will represent your best interests. They’ll give you solid advice and help you plan your next steps.
It’s advised that you plead not guilty and get representation. Then, move on to step five.
5. Prepare for Court
Consulting with your lawyer is crucial. Together, you can prepare for your court date. This day is crucial because it’s the only chance you’ll have to argue against your DWI charge.
If you plan on pleading not guilty, then a lawyer will help you construct a defense. They’ll give you advice on what to say and how to present yourself in court. They’ll also help prepare evidence and witnesses to back up your claims.
If you plan on pleading guilty, then a lawyer can still help. They’ll know different steps you can take to secure a better plea deal. This may involve going to alcohol education classes or doing community service before the big day.
6. Should You Appeal a Guilty Verdict?
Did you plead not guilty and go to court only to wind up getting found guilty? If so, then you still have an opportunity to appeal the court’s decision.
The appeal process is lengthy and expensive. Always consult with a lawyer to determine if this is the best option for you.
7. Complying With Your Punishments
If you aren’t considering an appeal, then it’s time to deal with your consequences. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to:
- Serve time in jail (up to six months!)
- Pay significant fines
- Endure a license suspension
- Attend alcohol classes
- Serve the community
The last thing you want to do is fail to adhere to your punishments. If you do, then you may be subject to even more drastic penalties.
8. Expunging Your DWI Conviction
Have you done the crime and the time already? Do you wish there was a way to get that pesky arrest erased from your record?
If you followed the steps above, then you should be in good standing with the law. You complied with your punishments and avoided getting into more trouble. So, why do you still have to suffer with the conviction on your permanent record?
You may not have to. Speak with your lawyer about DWI expungement.
This process will erase your DWI conviction. That means no more reporting your arrest to potential employers! It will no longer appear on background checks.
Once expunged, your record will be squeaky clean once again.
DWI Help When You Need it Most
Getting arrested and charged with a crime is a scary experience. This article provides some great DWI help for individuals going through the process. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to move forward with your life.
Despite this advice, it’s still best to get legal representation after a DWI charge. A lawyer will protect your interests. Feel free to browse around our online lawyer directory to help you find one today.