In 2016 alone, there were over 1,000,000 drivers who were arrested because of driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. That does seem like a lot of people but it’s only a small fraction of the total population who has admitted to driving after a few drinks.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of Americans will be facing DWI charges in the upcoming years.
If this has happened to you or someone you know it is best to stay informed. Read ahead to learn everything you need to know about DWI laws.
Definition of DWI
Generally, a DWI is determined the blood-alcohol content (BAC) of the driver. According to federal law, the limit is 0.08%. In Texas, DWI has the same definition but other states may have stricter BAC limits.
DWI or DUI?
Wait, aren’t they the same thing? Well, yes and no.
DWI means ‘driving while intoxicated’ or ‘driving while impaired. DUI means ‘driving under the influence’. In some states, there is no legal distinction between DWI and DUI.
Sometimes, however, DWI is reserved for those under the influence of illegal or recreational drugs other than alcohol. It often carries a heavier penalty in these cases.
Driving While Stoned
“I actually drive better after I smoke”. This is one we hear all the time.
Regardless of how you personally feel about the matter, driving under the effects of cannabis is still illegal. Yes, you can get a DWI just for weed. There is some evidence to say it increases the risk of an accident but its definitely illegal in the eyes of the law.
However, police officers are known to be somewhat lenient in this regard, as common sense would dictate. Also, there is really no practical test to determine if someone is currently under the effects of cannabis.
Dealing With Police
Of course, the best way to avoid a DWI is to never use a motor vehicle after drinking or taking any kind of substance. However, life happens and, as we know, many of us will indeed drive after a few drinks from time to time.
That being said, there is a very real possibility that you could get pulled over by a police patrol car. Find a safe, well-lit area to pull over. Stay calm and do NOT try to flee from police.
Turn your interior car lights on. Try to be respectful, comply with orders, and avoid making sudden movements since police can be nervous in these situations and may react violently.
When To Get Legal Help
Anybody who is arrested is entitled to certain rights under the US constitution. The same applies to anyone facing a potential DWI charge.
Police may try to convince you not to see a lawyer and to enter a guilty plea. They will try to persuade you by saying that they can let you off easy if you just accept the charge and get over with it.
Although it may eventually behoove you to accept a plea deal, it is always in your best interest to seek legal help. You are 100% entitled to remain silent and refuse to speak to anyone. You should contact a lawyer or speak to the public defender as soon as possible.
Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
You may have heard people say that its best to just refuse to do a breathalyzer if you know that you have been drinking. The rationale is that the police will be unable to prove that you are drunk and will be forced to drop the charges.
However, you can still be convicted of a DWI and you may face penalties on top of that for not taking the test. Police officers at trained at recognizing the signs of inebriation and can testify against you in court. Also, a field sobriety test can be used as evidence.
Some states have the ability the suspend your license for refusing a breathalyzer even if you are not ultimately convicted of a DWI.
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested
Now that what’s done is done the best thing to do is look forward and prepare for what is to come. The best thing you can do is hire a reputable defense lawyer with experience in these kinds of cases.
A lawyer is there to help in several ways. They can explain your rights, the charges you are facing, and the possible consequences of a conviction. Also, they are there to help you come with a legal strategy.
You are likely going to face charges. You can plead no contest, guilty, or not guilty. Your lawyer can advise you what the best option is depending on the facts of your case.
Consequences of a DWI
If you are found guilty, you will have to face charges. The severity of these charges depends on many factors.
If this is your first DWI, you have a very good shot at receiving a lesser sentence than someone with several on their record. Also, they will look at just the level of intoxication, police reports, other criminal antecedents, and the degree of any damages if present.
Possible outcomes include fines, loss of driver’s license, community service, and jail time. You might have to install a breathalyzer device in your car that won’t start unless you blow a 0.0%. Having a good lawyer is the best way to reduce the severity of your sentence.
Paying for Insurance After a DWI
Another unfortunate result is that you will likely have to pay more money for the same auto insurance. The companies may deem it risky so they will increase their fees.
Making The Best of a Sticky Situation
Nobody ever goes out with the intention to drive drunk or get a DWI. Unfortunately, these things happen and you’ll have some decisions to make.
However, a lawyer can help you get a reduced sentence or beat the case altogether. Visit this blog for more legal information for those facing DWI or other problems.