Facing charges for a DUI, DWI, OUI or any of the popular drunk driving acronyms is stressful, confusing, and possibly life changing. For many drunk driving defendants, it is their first experience with the criminal courts, or maybe even any court. It is natural to have questions, and it is smart to research the answers to those questions and even smarter to talk to a lawyer about your specific case.
Below, you'll find the top 5 frequently asked questions about going to court for drunk driving charges.
Unless you're an experienced criminal defense attorney, it's probably a good idea to hire an attorney as soon as possible to represent you. Criminal charges are serious and can have a significant impact on your life. Sure, arraignments are relatively routine hearings, but unless you really know the routine, how will you know if something isn't right in your case?
While you may think your case is unwinnable, an attorney may see an avenue to victory that you don't. Also, if you are unfamiliar with the legal system, having an advocate can help ensure your rights are protected.
Getting convicted for drunk driving is costly. Not to mention the likely increase in auto insurance rates, court costs and fines can be a few thousand dollars, or more, easily. If you caused an accident, or injury, restitution costs can also be included in a criminal judgment.
The ultimate decision is up to you, but a majority of all legal cases end up in a negotiated resolution, such as a plea bargain or settlement agreement. This is because certainty is generally valued above risk, and taking a case to trial involves a significant amount of risk.
A second drunk driving charge will usually lead to stiffer penalties. The penalties will always be dependent on your specific jurisdiction, but can include higher fines, longer license suspensions, jail time, and installing an ignition interlock device.
Lastly, one question that first time drunk driving defendants often don't know to ask:
Getting something expunged means getting it removed from your criminal record, and, in most jurisdictions, DUIs can be expunged. However, there are requirements to qualify for one.