A DWI (driving while intoxicated) case is a serious offense that will appear on your records if you’re convicted. The laws concerning DWI is often seen as biased as it was written to help prosecutors convict offenders.
Having a lawyer by your side is crucial as DWI laws are constantly changing. Even if it’s your first time being charged with such, don’t think that they’re going to be easy with you. The fines alone are hefty enough. For instance, in Syracuse, the fines can go up to $2,500. Even when you think you’re guilty, a visit to a lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome. Here are some instances wherein an attorney can help you.
You believe you’ve been wrongfully arrested.
Wrongful arrest means that you’ve been physically detained for a long time without proper legal cause. These things happen all the time. Even if you were indeed driving while intoxicated, if the process of your arrest was questionable, your case can be dismissed. A lawyer that’s experienced with DWI laws can help determine if a wrongful arrest did take place.
Here are two situations wherein your lawyer can file for a wrongful arrest:
- No probable cause
A probable cause means that the arresting officer saw reasonable grounds to stop and question you. Most DWI arrests happen because a police officer saw you violating basic traffic laws. If the officer isn’t able to provide enough probable cause why they stopped you, it can be used by your lawyer to get a lower sentence or even get the case thrown out.
- Improper use of sobriety checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints prevent drunk drivers from driving and cause further damage. However, these checkpoints need to be appropriately set up before they can be valid. It has to go through proper channels and should be approved by the local government. If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, your lawyer can look into the arrest and how the checkpoint was set up and use that in your defense.
- Incorrect usage of testing equipment
Another critical piece of evidence that prosecutors use to help strengthen their case is your blood alcohol content (BAC). When pulled over and suspected of DWI, you will be asked to take a blood or breath test to determine your BAC. If you hit 0.08%, you will be charged with DWI and taken into custody. The breathalyzer is one of the equipment used to determine your BAC. Fortunately, these things can sometimes give false results, especially when not calibrated. Your lawyer can check on the calibration practices of the police department and find any inconsistencies.
Your basic rights weren’t protected.
Even after being charged with DWI, your basic rights are should still be protected. The US Supreme Court has made it clear that anyone being arrested is to be treated fairly and processed appropriately, which includes protecting your basic rights under the constitution.
Right after being detained, you should be informed of the following rights:
- You are allowed to remain silent.
- Anything you say could be used against you.
- You are entitled to legal counsel, and if you can’t afford one, the state can provide one for you.
- You can have a lawyer during an interrogation.
The arresting authorities should mention all of these to you before your detainment. They can’t force you to do anything that will harm you or incriminate you. For example, they can’t force you to sign anything or threaten you to talk during an interrogation without your lawyer present. Furthermore, your detainment should be processed within a reasonable time. When any of these things have been violated, your lawyer can file that unlawful detainment and that any evidence obtained can’t be used during the trial.
You face aggravated charges.
What’s going to make your DWI case even more severe is when there are casualties and other parties involved. This is what your lawyer would call an aggravated DUI. This means that other aggravating circumstances were present during your arrest. An aggravated DUI is a class 4 felony and will not pass for a misdemeanor.
Here is a list of aggravating circumstances that you should be aware of:
- You have a very high BAC level (0.15% and higher).
- You have a BAC level of 0.8% or more and you were driving with a minor.
- You were driving without a license and intoxicated.
- You were driving drunk inside a school zone.
- Illegal drugs and substances were found in your possession.
- You’ve caused bodily harm or fatal injury to someone.
- You’ve caused severe property damage.
A lawyer may not be able to give you a win in these conditions, but they can help reduce your sentence and penalties.
Hiring an attorney to help with your DWI case doesn’t guarantee anything, but it helps to have someone in your corner. The process can be extremely confusing. Hire a lawyer to help you go through it. The cost of hiring a lawyer will trump any inconvenience you could’ve faced without one.