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We all make mistakes. One of the most common mistakes made by people in the U.S. involves illegally driving while under the influence. Having one too many while out with family or friends and then getting behind the wheel can have serious consequences that affect many areas of your life.
Driving while under the influence, whether you are in Buffalo or Houston, is commonly known as a DUI/DWI offense. This is a serious charge that involves an arrest, court appearances, fines, and even jail time. If you are charged with a DWI, you will likely experience fear, shame, financial stress, and even depression and wonder how to deal with the situation.
With the laws in almost every state becoming more strict concerning DWI incidents, even first-time offenders can expect to be taken to the police station for a full booking. It’s a good idea to call an experienced legal advocate. A Buffalo attorney or Houston DWI lawyer can help you navigate the system and defend your case when it goes to court. Let’s take a look at what you can expect if you are charged with a DWI.
You can expect to be taken into police custody at the time of your offense if you fail the roadside sobriety tests. Following the failure of your field sobriety test, you may be transferred to a police vehicle and taken to the police station. You may be handcuffed during your transport. Once you arrive at the station, you will go through the booking process where you will be fingerprinted and photographed.
This process can be frightening and humiliating without an attorney, especially for first-time offenders with no experience with the legal system. You may be released if you can find someone to pay your bail. If not, you will spend at least one night in the local jail awaiting your first hearing.
At the time of your arrest, you will be given some paperwork that outlines when you are to appear in court. It’s imperative that you show up for your court date. There are serious consequences for non-compliance. During your hearing, your lawyer will advise you to answer questions clearly and honestly.
Keep in mind, if you try to avoid charges by pleading not guilty, it’s not uncommon for the state attorneys to show the whole courtroom the video of your sobriety test and police station records. This can be an embarrassing and shameful event that most people want to avoid.
Loss of License
DWI charges may include an immediate loss of your driving privileges. The length of time you will lose your license depends on your state and your arrest circumstances. If you refused to take a field sobriety test, your license would likely have been suspended on-site.
Losing your license leaves you feeling more than just guilty and shameful. It means that you may become a burden on other family members or friends when you aren’t able to get to work or anywhere else.
Part of your penalty for a DWI will include paying a fine. Each state has different guidelines on fine amounts for DWI charges. If extenuating circumstances were surrounding your charges like the damage to property or the endangerment of a minor, you could expect your fines to climb above the minimum. You will also be responsible for footing the bill for all of your court costs.
If you are not sentenced to jail time, you will likely be given a probationary sentence. Each probation is made up of different terms, depending on the individual incident. You can expect your punishment to include such terms as:
- Limited or suspended license
- DUI education classes
- Zero-tolerance alcohol requirements
- Ignition lock installed on your vehicle
- Monitoring ankle bracelet
- Community service
In almost every state, before you can have your license restrictions lifted after a DWI charge, you will need to attend an educational program. A counselor will work with you to evaluate your alcohol and drug patterns and habits and help you deal with long-term problems.
Drinking and driving are not only dangerous to both you and everyone on the road, it can carry consequences that disrupt your regular life. Living with the shame, the loss of income, and dealing with a permanent mark on your legal record is just not worth it. Be smart, if you are going to have a few drinks, make arrangements to get home safely, and never get behind the wheel.