A DWI (driving while impaired or intoxicated) charge comes with driver’s license issues and criminal penalties. Law enforcement agencies put a strong emphasis on prosecuting DWI cases because of the great potential for harm that is associated with impaired drivers. The impairment could be caused by factors such as drugs, alcohol, and even drowsiness. The consequences of impaired driving can have an impact on every part of an offender’s life.
The Severe Consequences of DWI
DWI charges imply the arresting officer has a reason to believe that a driver is too impaired to drive. In some jurisdictions, officers can charge drivers with DWI even after blowing a blood alcohol content (BAC) under the legal limit. Under the zero-tolerance laws, people under 21 are charged with DWI or DUI if they blow higher than 0.00.
Suppose a driver appears to be impaired, but the breathalyzer test shows he or she is not driving under alcohol intoxication. In that case, the officer can call a Drug Recognition Evaluator or Expert (DRE) to perform several tests. DREs are specially trained officers that help crackdown on DWI cases. They can detect several types of impairment, such as:
- Prescription drugs
- Additive drugs
- Medical conditions
People charged with impaired driving face serious consequences.
In nearly all states, a first-time DWI offense is classified as a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a maximum of one year or six months in jail. In some states, the maximum jail term is much shorter. Many states can allow first-time offenders to avoid jail, but some have a minimum jail sentence of a few weeks or days to preventing drunk driving.
With subsequent DWI charges, punishments typically increase. A DWI classified as a felony because the offender caused a fatal car accident or injured someone also attracts a more severe jail sentence.
Individuals convicted of DWI offenses often have to pay fines. Generally, people are usually fined $500 to $2,000 for a standard first-time offense. The penalties go up by several thousand dollars for subsequent offenses or DWI offenses that involve aggravating circumstances.
DWI offenders are likely to have their licenses suspended for a certain period. It can be a short as 90 days or even take several years for repeat offenders.
Some states take additional steps to prevent offenders from driving again under the influence. They might confiscate an offender’s car and cancel the registration permanently or temporarily. Under the ignition interlock law, the offender may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to his or her car and use it for some time after license reinstatement. The vehicle will not start if the driver blows into the gadget, and it detects a BAC above a particular level, normally between 0.02% and 0.04%.
After an offender gets his driver’s license back, he or she is likely to require SR-22 insurance, which could double or triple his or her premiums.
Dealing with a DWI Offense
After being charged with DWI, it is necessary for people to explore all the available options to help themselves avoid the damaging consequences. DWI crimes can be complicated and involve questions about the procedure, evidence, and legal precedent. With the help of an attorney, a person can have the case dismissed after arguing the officer lacked the probable cause to make a DWI stop, or he or she did not correctly administer the sobriety tests.
The accuracy of tests can be questioned because officers can lack proper training to use or maintain the machines. Even if offenders do not beat the DWI offense case, they could negotiate plea bargains to lesser charges. These could save them from excessive fees and license suspensions.
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