Don’t Drive Drunk Over the 4th: How Impaired Driving Affects You

Don’t Drive Drunk Over the 4th: How Impaired Driving Affects You

Stephanie Cortes
 | 
According to the National Institutes of Health, “In 2018, 20.5 million people aged 16 or older in the United States drove under the influence of alcohol and 12.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.”

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)  is a serious crime within the U.S. that is heard in criminal court. If you are convicted of a DWI, you have a right to represent yourself in criminal court, hire a private lawyer, or be represented by a public defender provided to you by the court.

Here are some DWI-specific factors and answers you may want to consider when deciding on a lawyer for your case.

What is DWI?

The term DWI is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated.”

It is important to look into and understand how your state defines DWIs. Depending on your state’s laws, the term DWI as it can refer to driving under the influence of alcohol that is above the blood alcohol content legal limit, drugs including both recreational drugs and prescribed medication from your doctor, or some other unknown substances. 

If you are convicted for driving while impaired, charges will carry high penalties with possible jail time. 

How will getting a DWI impact me?

If you are arrested or convicted of a DWI, you may be:
  1. Arrested and booked in jail
  2. Required to make court appearances
  3. Getting your driver’s license suspended 
  4. Pay fines associated with your case
  5. Receive jail time
  6. Ordered to complete terms of probation
  7. Ordered to attend drunk driving school
  8. Undergo alcohol evaluations
  9. Increased auto insurance payments
  10. Install an ignition interlock device in your car
  11. Stopped from traveling to certain countries because you have a criminal record.
  12. Be turned away from certain jobs.
Should I hire a private attorney? 

Defendants in U.S. criminal courts have the right to an attorney. They can also represent themselves. However, according to fightduicharges.com, “Far too many drivers underestimate the seriousness and long-term consequences that happen after a DWI/DUI case is over with if they get convicted or plead guilty.”

You may acquire representation by hiring a private DWI lawyer or utilizing a public defender who is appointed to you by the court. Depending on the factors of your case, being represented by a public defender may not be the best option for you.

The serious consequences of being charged for driving while intoxicated may impact your life in several ways. Therefore, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in DWI cases and has an expert understanding of your state laws to help you create a strong defense and reach a favorable outcome. This may look like a better plea bargain deal or dismissal of charges.

What if this is my second DWI offense?
According to Buddy T at Very Well Mind, “For a second offense, you may spend some time in jail. It is also likely that you will be placed on probation and be required to perform community service. To get your driver's license back, you will probably have to attend defensive driving classes.”

How does a private attorney help me reach a favorable outcome in my case?
DWI and DUI state laws are complex and continuously change.  Therefore, a consultation with an experienced attorney is valuable. 

The following are factors that a private attorney may be able to assist you with to reach a satisfactory outcome in court:
  • You will receive more one-on-one attention.  Public defenders generally handle large caseloads of criminal cases which may lead to some defendants feeling as if their case isn’t getting adequate attention to prepare a strong defense. You’ll typically get more one-on-one attention than you would with a public lawyer. 
  • You choose who represents you. With a public defender, you are unable to choose who will represent you, so you get who the court provides you with.
  • A private DWI lawyer will typically represent you in DMV proceedings. According to NOLO, “A DUI arrest leads to two separate proceedings: an ‘administrative per se’ proceedings with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a criminal court case. Generally, defendants who have a public defender will have to deal with the DMV proceedings on their own.”  Public defender’s representation may be limited.
  • A private attorney may help keep your court visits at a minimum. “Generally, public defender clients must personally appear for all court hearing. However, with a private attorney, you may not have to be present for all of your routine court appearances,” states NOLO.
  • Your case is evaluated by a knowledgeable and expert DWI attorney. According to NOLO, “A lack of legal knowledge and trial skills will put you at a severe disadvantage in court. And judges typically have little patience for self-represented defendants who don’t know the rules of court. The bottom line is you don’t want to try your DWI case on your own—if you’re going to trial, you should have an attorney.”
LawChamps can help you match with an expert DWI attorney near your area.

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.



 
Stephanie Cortes

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