Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are both charges that can have a serious impact on your life. If you are convicted, then you could face a range of consequences depending on what happened. You should understand some common defenses for a DUI or DWI charge and the consequences you could face if convicted.
You Were Not Driving
One defense against a DUI or DWI is to show that you were not technically driving. The definition of driving is different in some jurisdictions. If you were sitting in a running car or sitting in a car turned off, then you might not be technically driving under the law.
Test Results Are Incorrect
Another defense is to question the results of the tests used to determine you were intoxicated. Breath, urine and blood tests are not perfect. The equipment used could be defective, the readings could be explained by something else or laboratories might make a mistake. Arguing this could lead to exclusion of the test results as evidence.
No Probable Cause
Law enforcement needs a good and defined reason to stop and arrest you when driving. This is called probable cause. If the officer did not have probable cause to make an arrest, then nearly all of the evidence that was collected during the incident can become inadmissible. This can leave prosecutors without a case.
A possible defense is to claim the officer made procedural errors during the DUI stop or arrest. Law enforcement must follow specific rules when dealing with you and your vehicle. If the arresting officer does not do something as simple as informing you of the Miranda warnings, then some evidence from the scene could be suppressed.
Your Behavior Is Explainable
A final defense is to explain your behavior during the stop. You might have looked intoxicated because of prescription medications or being tired. You might have failed a field sobriety test because the officer was unclear about what to do. This defense can help to show you were not actually intoxicated.
The main consequence of DUI or DWI for many people is a suspended license. Your driver’s license could be suspended for a month to a year or more. If you have repeated convictions for a DWI, then your license could be revoked permanently.
The judge could order that you pay a monetary fine for a DUI or DWI conviction. The fines vary from small sums into the tens of thousands of dollars. The judge will determine the amount based on the facts surrounding the arrest.
There is always a chance that you could be sentenced to time in jail after a conviction for a DWI or DUI. Some jurisdictions have mandatory jail time requirements for repeat offenders. Jail sentences could be as short as a few days or up to a year in some cases.
Impound of Your Vehicles
If the events leading up to the conviction are particularly egregious, then your vehicle might be impounded. You will have to pay money to get your vehicle back. If you cannot pay for your vehicle, then it could be auctioned by the state after a certain period of time.
You might be able to negotiate an alternative sentence with the help of a lawyer to avoid jail time and fines. These sentences can include completing a rehabilitation program, performing community service or probation. An alternative sentence could also allow you to get your license back quickly.