When a motorist refuses to submit to a lawful DWI test, his driving privileges will automatically be suspended in most states. If it is the driver’s first offense, the period of suspension typically lasts between one and six months. If he agrees to a sobriety test and his blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, he will be arrested on the spot.
Even for a first offense, a driver may face expensive fines and the possibility of jail time. At the very least, his license will be suspended and/or he will have to pay an often hefty fine. Depending on how much alcohol the motorist had in his system, he may also be sentenced to up to one year in jail and/or one year of probation. It is for these reasons that it often makes sense to fight the charges in court.
Challenging a DWI charge may not be easy, but there is hope. If, for example, the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure, it may be possible to get the charges dismissed. Depending on the facts of the case, an experienced defense attorney may utilize any or all of the following legal strategies: challenge the procedure, challenge the field sobriety test, challenge the breathalyzer results, suppress the driver’s statements — if they were incriminating. It may also be possible to challenge the actual stop. Why?
As hard as they work and as tough as a job they have, police officers sometimes cut corners. They occasionally stop drivers based solely on a hunch. If a traffic cop had no legitimate reason to stop you, it may be possible to get the charges thrown out, even if you were operating a motor vehicle under the influence!
How To Proceed
In most states, a motorist has a limited amount of time to request a formal review hearing, where his attorney can officially contest the suspension of his driving privileges. If the suspension is not contested, fines, probation, and possible jail time may ensue. Because the penalties associated with a first offense are manageable for most motorists, they seldom contest their suspension.
By comparison, most drivers who have a record speak to a defense attorney before they agree to anything. In some cases, it may be possible for an experienced attorney to get a plea bargain that helps the defendant avoid jail time. At the very least, an attorney can give helpful legal advice in a time of need.
If you have been charged with drunk driving, an experienced DWI attorney may be able to help.