What Steps Should I Take After a DWI Arrest?
Getting pulled over by a cop is never good. Getting pulled over after you’ve been drinking is a nightmare scenario that can result in stiff consequences that produce long-term ramifications. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, it’s imperative that you develop a plan for strategically defending your rights.
The Consequences of a DWI Conviction
According to Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP, “DWI convictions can greatly impact your life in a number of ways. There are the legal penalties, of course, which include jail or prison time, fines, probation, community service, and loss of your driver’s license. In some cases you may be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle, too.”
A DWI conviction will hurt you both in the short-term and long-run. Even for a first-time offender, fines can be $2,000 or more. There’s also the risk of jail time, loss of licensure, and fees for reinstating a license. If there are other extenuating circumstances – such as a child passenger or a previous DWI conviction – the penalties will be even stiffer.
The long-term negative ramifications may include the loss of a job, the inability to find employment, challenges accessing government benefits, steep insurance hikes, and a tarnished reputation.
In other words, you can’t afford to be convicted of a DWI. If you’ve been charged, it’s time to exercise your rights and fight back.
How to Fight a DWI Charge
DWI cases are highly circumstantial and depend on a number of factors. So while we can’t give you a 1-2-3 list of exactly what to do, we can provide you with some helpful tips on how to proceed:
- Document Everything
While you may be focused on the big picture – the fact that you have a serious DWI conviction hanging over your head – the reality is that these cases are won and lost in the details.
Your mind will do tricky things over time. You’ll forget what actually happened and may even imagine details that didn’t happen. Combat this by documenting everything you remember (and as soon as possible). This includes everything from what the officer was wearing and what he said when he approached the vehicle to what you told the officer and the sort of tests he put you through. Every detail matters!
- Hush Up and Hire a Lawyer
It’s easy to become frustrated by your DWI charge and start talking to friends or posting frustrated messages on your social media accounts, but this will only get you in trouble. Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. It’s best to hush up, hire a lawyer, and follow the advice you’re given. There’s no sense in making a tough situation even more difficult.
- Determine Your Defense
You and your attorney will work together to figure out a defense. Some of the most commonly used defenses include:
- Improper stop by the police
- Failure to follow proper field sobriety test protocol
- Improper testing and/or storage of blood alcohol samples
- Presence of certain medical conditions
- Violations of Miranda rights
- Inappropriate communication with the defendant
- Violations of the rules of evidence and procedure
As you can see, most defenses aren’t actually arguing for sobriety. Instead, they’re using parts of the system to prove that some element was handled inappropriately. If it’s deemed that law enforcement didn’t use the correct methods, the case will be tossed out. (This is why it’s so important to record the details!)
- Keep Living Your Life
As frustrating as it is to have a DWI conviction hanging over your head, you need to keep living your life. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits – like exercising, eating well, sleeping, and cultivating positive social relationships. Whether you’re convicted or the charges are dropped, there is life on the other side of this moment. You need to be prepared for how you’ll handle the future.
Make Smart Life Choices
Whether you were wrongfully charged based on shoddy evidence, or you knowingly put yourself in a situation that you shouldn’t have been in, let this serve as a wakeup call. Life is too short to let it be characterized by mistakes. Start living your life the way it’s meant to be lived!