WHAT IS DWI?
DWI means “driving while intoxicated” or “driving while impaired.” Just like DUI, DWI is an acronym for drunk driving. While certain states have different names for the virtually the same DUI/DWI offense, all states have laws that prohibit drivers from operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. In a few states, both DUI and DWI are used. In most of those cases, DWI represents the more significant charge and DUI represents the lesser charge.
DWI ARREST AND CHARGES
If you were arrested for DWI, a police officer believed that you were driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drug(s) to the extent that your motor skills, mental faculties and reaction times were so impaired that you were unable to operate that motor vehicle safely.
The police can use a variety of factors to determine whether you were intoxicated. First, your driving pattern may be indicative of impaired driving. Erratic driving such as weaving or changes in speed are symptomatic of driving while intoxicated. Second, law enforcement uses a battery of field sobriety tests to determine whether your motor skills are impaired. Third, police use a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater is considered per se, or automatically, driving while intoxicated.
When you are arrested for DWI, two separate cases start. There’s the criminal court case, which determines fines, jail time, community service, and other similar items. And there’s also the administrative side, which determines your licensing issues and can determine the length of your DWI school.
WHAT KIND OF PENALTIES FOR DWI CAN I EXPECT?
DWI penalties can be severe and significant. You may face thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, community service, probation, and revocation of your license. You will be required to attend a DWI school, your car insurance will increase, and you may have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Other factors can significantly increase the penalties. For example, if you had a high blood alcohol content, if you were driving with a minor in the vehicle, if you have a prior DWI, or if you caused even a minor injury collision, the DWI penalties can significantly increase.
DO I NEED A DWI LAWYER?
Absolutely yes! It is always a smart move to hire an experienced attorney who understands your state’s laws. A good DWI attorney will be able to assist you with the offer DWI defense strategies for both the administrative case and your criminal case.