Picture this: One of your friends just hosted you a small, responsible, socially distanced birthday gathering at their house. You shared food, you laughed, you had a few drinks. However, you didn’t think to set a designated driver.
You didn’t have that much to drink, and your friend lives about ten minutes away. You should be fine to get home.
Or so you think, right up until the police car lights flash behind you, or a car crunches in front of you. Now, hiring an attorney and finding a way to handle this DWI charge has ruined any fun you might have had that night. You may wonder if it’s worth it to find legal counsel. We’re here to tell you, “Yes, and here’s why.”
First Off, What Is a DWI?
DWI is the common legal abbreviation for “Driving While Intoxicated”. You may also see it referred to as “driving while impaired”. You’ll get charged with a DWI if an officer at the scene judges you as too impaired to drive a vehicle. This may even happen if you’re impaired, but sitting in the driver’s seat of your car or operating a smaller vehicle like a boat or a lawnmower.
Are DWI and DUI the Same Thing?
You may wonder since they’re so similar, whether or not a DWI and a DUI are the same things. While they have very similar legal definitions, they aren’t exactly the same.
A DWI usually refers to driving while under the influence of alcohol or while half-asleep. A DUI means that someone was driving under the influence. This can refer to alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or illegal substances. Both can potentially make you lose your license and will require hiring an attorney for good outcomes.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for a DWI?
If you’ve been hit with a DWI charge, you may wonder if it’s even worth the cost to hire a DWI Lawyer. You might think that it’s better to pay the piper for your mistakes and serve out whatever sentence the state decides you should have. However, there are several benefits of hiring an attorney to handle your DWI case. These benefits include:
Protection from Police Shenanigans
After years upon years of propaganda showing the difficulties policemen face, it’s easy for those who don’t deal with discrimination to assume that the cops are on their side. However, once you get arrested for driving while impaired, the police will want you to give them all the information you can.
Even if they seem friendly, don’t fall for it. They’re on no one’s side but their own. Anything you say to them can and will be used against you in a court of law. Once the cops start asking questions, the only words out of your mouth should be, “I want to speak to a lawyer.”
A good attorney will help save you from incriminating yourself or making your charges worse.
You May Be Able to Get Your License Back
The second your DWI charge goes through, your driver’s license gets suspended. It’s almost impossible to handle daily living tasks with a suspended license. And heaven help you should you get caught driving around while your license remains suspended.
Hiring an attorney for your DWI or DUI case might be able to help you get your license back sooner. They know how to present your particular case to the DMV to show you in the best light.
Costs Less Money Overall
Have you ever stopped to think about the fines imposed on those caught driving while intoxicated? They can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the state. Worse, if another car got damaged or someone got hurt, you may be on the hook for their medical bills and property damage without the help of a skilled lawyer.
Suddenly, those expensive fees to hire a lawyer to handle your case don’t seem like much, do they?
Sentences Can Be Negotiated
Another benefit to hiring an attorney for a DWI case is that they can help you negotiate your sentence. Laying on the sword and accepting your punishment, so to speak, won’t always get your sentence reduced. If anyone else got hurt, you can bet that they’ll push for the maximum possible sentence, including jail time.
The best attorney near you might be able to work with local systems, let you take courses of drug or alcohol counseling or driving classes over months in jail.
Charges Could Be Dismissed Altogether
Did it seem like the arresting officer didn’t quite know how to work the breathalyzer that got you arrested? Were you technically over the legal limit, but not slurring your words or stumbling? Were you in a vehicle that was completely still at the time of your arrest? If so, then you might be able to get your charges thrown out altogether.
DWI attorneys are experts in finding ways to lighten or dismiss your charges, especially when it seems like they don’t have the legal ground to stand on their own.
They Know the System and Can Help You Look Better
As we’ve mentioned several times above, when you search “attorney near me”, you’re getting someone to help you present your case to the court and the DMV. You don’t want to seem like a disheveled, disorganized drunkard when you’re trying to convince people to let you drive again.
A well-trained attorney will present you as what you are: Someone who made a mistake and is willing to do better in the long run.
What If You Decide It’s Not Worth the Cost?
So, you’ve read through all the benefits of hiring an attorney for your DWI case, and you still don’t think it’s worth the investment. That’s your prerogative. However, you should know that if you decide it’s not worth the cost, the following consequences may occur:
You May Face Massive Fines
As we mentioned above, most DWI cases come with some type of fine. Depending on your state, these legal fines can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the severity of the charge. Worse, if you hurt someone or damaged property, those expenses might be rolled into your fines.
What was once a two hundred dollar fine can quickly morph into two hundred thousand dollars of fines, medical expenses, and insurance damages. That’s a massive load of debt to carry for the rest of your life.
You Now Have a Criminal Record, With All That Entails
As a result of having been arrested and successfully convicted with a DWI, you now have a criminal record. Along with everything that entails, including:
- Losing your job, if your employment requires a clean legal record
- Difficulty in finding new employment due to background checks
- Public stigmatization due to your record
- Massive hikes in car insurance rates due to your DWI charge
- Difficulty getting your license back due to your past charges
The many ways in which a criminal record can destroy your social and economic standing should be motivation enough to start hiring an attorney to represent you. However, if it isn’t…
You May Face Jail Time
Most DWI charges don’t end in fines and counseling alone. If you don’t have proper representation or happened to hurt the wrong person as a result, you may end up facing at least six months of jail time. Even if you spend only a small amount of time in jail, you will not emerge from it psychologically unscathed.
Research has shown, time and time again, that jail time damages mental health. Sometimes irreparably. People see and experience traumas within prisons that the outside world would never understand, or worse, think you deserved because you made the mistake of driving drunk.
Depending on how long your jail sentence is, you might not have a support network or skills to help you when you get out of prison. Combine that with the aforementioned stigma behind having a criminal record, and it makes the whole situation worse.
Hire an attorney. It’s not worth the risk of jail time.
Looking for More Important Legal Information?
Hiring an attorney to handle your DWI case can save you from psychological and financial ruin. DWI attorneys can help you present your case to the court in the most sympathetic light, saving you money and face. This can help you avoid the worst of the legal fines or find another path to rehabilitation that doesn’t involve jail time. It’s better across every metric to hire an attorney, rather than go it alone.
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