It may begin with a celebration of a friend's birthday, with a promotion, or just a gathering to kick off the weekend. Whatever the reason, getting pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving is a stressful way to end an evening of celebration. Although you may be tempted to brush off the encounter, don't. If a stop leads to charges, it is important to take the charges seriously.
Why should I take DWI charges seriously?
Getting charged with the crime of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can come with serious criminal penalties, including:
- Driver's license suspension. Those who are convicted of this crime can lose the privilege to drive. The length of time that the license is suspended will vary depending on the details of the charges.
- Monetary penalties. A first DWI conviction can come with up to $1,000 in fines, the second with $5,000 and the third with $10,000.
- Ignition interlock. In some cases, a conviction can also come with mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. Installation and maintenance costs are generally the responsibility of the driver and the device is often required on every single vehicle the driver owns.
- Alcohol detection bracelet. Some convictions can also require the use of a "scram bracelet". This device is worn on the ankle of the person convicted of the DWI and is used to detect whether or not the wearer has consumed any alcohol.
- Imprisonment. A first offense can result in up to one year imprisonment, a second with four years and a third with seven.
It is important to note that the laws governing the penalties associated with a DWI conviction can change. It is also important to be aware of the fact that criminal penalties are only the beginning. The social stigma of a DWI conviction can also cause long reaching complications to your life. If convicted, you will now have a criminal record. This may need to be disclosed on applications for employment, housing and even scholarships.
Charged with a DWI? What can you do?
Charges do not automatically translate to a conviction. The charges can be fought, a conviction is not inevitable. Defenses are available. Contact an experienced drunk driving and DWI defense lawyer to discuss your options.