When you’ve been charged with a drunken driving offense, the penalties can severely impact your life. An experienced defense lawyer can provide the guidance you need to protect your future.
A night out on the town can quickly turn sour if you choose to drive under the influence. Being arrested and charged with an OWI or “DUI” carries severe consequences. Besides potentially putting your life and others in jeopardy, a drunken driving charge can result in a host of criminal penalties, from losing your license and independence to paying out thousands of dollars in traffic tickets, court fees, and other expensive fines.
You may be asking yourself, should I hire an OWI attorney?
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a driver is under the influence when his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired. In 2015, more than 25,734 people were issued OWI citations in Wisconsin. Out of this group, more than 93% were found guilty.
A person can be charged with Operating While Intoxicated if they are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and behind the wheel — even if the vehicle is parked. In Wisconsin, you can also be convicted of Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration, which refers to a driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than the .08% legal limit, regardless of their level of impairment.
For some first-time offenders, a defense attorney may not make much of a difference in the courtroom — especially if there were no injuries, and the details of the case aren’t up for dispute, such as the blood-alcohol content. For many OWI/DUI cases, however, there are other factors at play that can affect the outcome of the case.
Some of these factors might include:
● Whether the offense resulted in an accident, injury, or death;
● Whether the suspected driver is charged with additional traffic violations, such as excessive speeding or reckless driving;
● Whether a child under the age of 16 was present in the vehicle;
● Whether the suspected driver exhibits an extremely high BAC level (usually two or more times the legal limit);
● Whether the suspected driver is caught driving on a suspended or revoked license; and
● Whether the suspected OWI driver has multiple OWI/DUI convictions.
If you have one or more of these aggravating factors, it’s important to immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney about your case, as these can result in enhanced penalties and necessitate legal assistance.
Steps to take immediately after a DUI charge
In addition to contacting an OWI/DUI lawyer, there are other steps you can take to lessen the impact of your charge and ensure the case moves along as smoothly as possible. Even if you plan to plead guilty and are convicted of a drunk driving offense, a criminal defense attorney can help you complete the necessary steps to get your license back and get your life back on track sooner.
Write down your version of events. If you plan to fight OWI/DUI charges, it’s important to record the events. These details should include where you were coming from, how much you had to drink if anything, the time of day, the weather conditions, how the field sobriety test was conducted, if you took a breathalyzer or blood test, and the actions of the police officers who pulled you over. It’s also important to obtain your full police report.
Remember your court date. As soon as you are issued a court date, put it into your calendar. Then be sure to make arrangements for childcare, take time off from work, and set your alarm to ensure you make it to the courthouse on time. Missing a court date is a serious offense, and could result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. If you can’t make your initial court date, contact your attorney before your appearance to request a continuance.
Enroll in alcohol or drug education or treatment programs. If you are convicted of an OWI/DUI, you will be required to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation. However, many suspected drivers enroll in alcohol or drug treatment programs before their case appears before the court to work toward regaining driving privileges. It also sends a message to the court that you take the OWI/DUI charges seriously, which may work in your favor if you are facing a conviction.
Over time, Wisconsin’s DUI laws have become more complex and can result in harsh penalties — even for first-time offenders. Our experienced team of OWI/DUI attorneys can provide you with the best opportunity to present a strong case, minimize penalties, and restore your future. If you have questions about a drunken driving arrest, don’t wait until it’s too late. Call the effective legal team at Everson Law Firm, today.