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What Is DWI?
DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” This is the name that some states give to drunk driving charges (also known as driving under the influence or DUI in other states). DWI charges can lead to various penalties, including:
- A misdemeanor conviction on one’s record (felony charges in some cases)
- Criminal fines and/or jail time
- Loss/suspension of license
- Mandatory drunk driving classes
Penalties may increase with repeat offenses. In some cases, penalties may also increase if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is high or if the incident resulted in serious bodily harm/property damage.
What Defenses Can I Use for a DWI?
Like other criminal and traffic violations, there may be a number of defenses that might apply to the defendant. Some common defenses to DWI charges include:
- Improper stop/No probable cause for pull over (the police must have a valid legal justification for stopping the driver initially)
- Duress (i.e, the driver was forced to drive under conditions of threat or harm)
- Miranda warning defects
- Involuntary intoxication (the defendant was not aware that they were consuming alcohol, such as when someone “spikes” the punch bowl)
- Challenging a field sobriety test (for instance, it was conducted improperly or you had a physical condition that affected your performance)
- Administrative or clerical errors (such as when a chemical test is mishandled or a breathalyzer test fails)
- “Rising Blood Alcohol Concentration” - This is where the defendant claims to have been driving while their BAC was under the legal limit, but it rose as the field sobriety test was administered (this can happen sometimes as alcohol takes some time to absorb in the system)
Various other defenses may apply, which can vary by jurisdiction and local laws. Some defenses, such as the rising BAC defense, can be more difficult to prove than others.
Is It Possible to Get Charges Reduced?
In some cases, DWI consequences may be lessened or reduced. This can happen for instance if evidence surfaces that would help to prove the defendant’s innocence. It is often common to have DWI charges reduced from felony to misdemeanor charges depending on the factors. Lastly, charges often tend to be less serious for first-time DWI charges.
Can a Lawyer Help Me with My DWI Defense?
DWI laws can often involve some serious criminal penalties. You may need to hire a qualified criminal lawyer if you need assistance with any DWI issues. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and guidance during the process. Also, if you need to appear before a judge or attend a court hearing, your lawyer can be present to guide you during those times as well.
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Last Modified: 10-15-2014 03:45 PM PDT
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