Do I Need a Lawyer for DUI, DWI or OWI?
First, it is important to recognize that the terms DWI, DUI and OWI are synonymous. Different terms are used in different states, but generally they all refer to drunk driving offenses.
It is important in any DUI/DWI case to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Any delay in contacting an experienced DUI/DWI attorney may prejudice your case including your criminal defense and your ability to have your license reinstated. Even a first offense DUI/DWI conviction can have serious consequences. In fact, if your blood or breath alcohol level (BAC) was over .20, you may face mandatory jail sentences and fines!
Even a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration below .20 has potential penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Moreover, in any DUI/DWI case, you may be required to attend an alcohol safety class, submit to a chemical assessment and follow any treatment recommendations which may potentially include in patient or out patient treatment!
Contrary to popular belief, there are many effective ways to
challenge a DWI. This is particularly true since DWI law is forever
changing and developing where new defenses and challenges are brought. By
failing to contact an attorney, you lose any chance of defending against such
very serious charges. The particular defenses are developed by an
experienced attorney only after performing discovery and collecting necessary
documents which include police reports, recorded statements, chemical testing
apparatus maintenance logs and user records. Given the severity of the
consequences, it is imperative that you speak to a DWI lawyer as part of your
case. Free consultations are usually offered. To consult call (612)
How Long will a DWI stay on my driving record?
A DWI will ALWAYS remain on your driving record. Moreover, if you are charged with a second or subsequent offense within 10 years of a DWI conviction, the potential penalties increase greatly. In fact, potential penalties for a second offense within 10 years carries with it up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Moreover, if convicted the law requires that the judge sentence you to mandatory jail time. You may also lose your driving privileges for a year or more.
What can a lawyer do for me?
A experienced DWI lawyer will try to suppress the results of your blood, breath or urine test. This will require an exhaustive examination of the testing procedures used, the maintenance records for any machinery implemented, a review of test operator background, a review of any test operator's training and experience. It will also require a review of any audio or video tapes. Often, video tapes of the stop and field sobriety tests are made and officers are required to audio tape an Implied Consent Advisory whenever it is practical to do so.
Only after a thorough review of all evidence, is it possible to devise a strategy for attacking the actual chemical test results. In fact, with regard to blood and urine tests, the law enforcement agency may be required by law to preserve a second sample for testing by your defense counsel.
Moreover, your defense attorney may attack the procedures followed by the arresting officer. Did you know that the results of a breath or blood test may be suppressed as evidence in your criminal trial if the sample was not collected within two hours of your driving conduct?
There are many different defenses and attacks that may be raised. Officers must follow very specific steps as part of the arrest. If any one step is missing, the case may be dismissed.
· Reasonable Suspicion. The officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe a specific crime has been committed in order to stop a person. If that reasonable suspicion is lacking the stop and the ticket may be invalid;
· Probable Cause to arrest and charge. the officer must make sufficient observations to form a basis for probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Oftentimes, officers perform field sobriety tests incorrectly making the arrest invalid;
· Procedures at the Station. The officer must follow very specific procedures at the station including reading and recording an Implied Consent Advisory that informs you that you have a right to a lawyer. If any of the steps are omitted, the charges may be dismissed;
· Test Procedures. Testing methods to determine blood alcohol concentrations are imperfect at best. Like any scientific method, any test result has a margin of error. If the machinery is not properly maintained and even if it is properly maintained, the test results may vary fro true Blood Alcohol Concentration. A sufficient variation may result in a reduce charge or no charge.
Do I have any challenges if I refuse to submit to a chemical test?
You may have challenges even if you refuse to submit to a chemical test. There are a number of instances where it can be argued that the refusal was reasonable including medical exceptions and sanitary conditions. Moreover, even in cases of a refusal, law enforcement officers must follow a very specific set of defined procedures. If they miss even one required step, it may be a basis to suppress evidence or seek a dismissal of the charges. In fact, most cases, are often dismissed even before a trial when challenges are made to procedures or evidence. At such hearings, your attorney may demand that the arresting officer appear and testify. This provides your attorney with an opportunity to test the officer's memory, procures implemented, background and credibility.
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