Legal Guide

3 First Steps You Must Take After a DWI Arrest

It can be a frightening experience being arrested for drunken driving - an offense that is technically known by the term Driving While Intoxicated. You realize that you stand to lose your license and want to do whatever you can to minimize the severity of the penalty to pay. If you find yourself caught up in a DWI arrest, you should do your best to fight the charges against you.

The outcome depends in large part on what you do immediately after your arrest. No matter how anxious you are, you need to keep the right steps in mind. A look through the DWI info at should help you learn the procedure thoroughly.

To begin, though, the three steps that follow should serve as a convenient introduction to the steps to take following a DWI arrest.

The chemical test

The police usually use a breathalyzer to determine whether to make an arrest. Breathalyzers, though, are well-known for their unreliable nature. This is why the law requires that every DWI arrest be followed by a more thorough chemical test.

A chemical test usually tests your blood alcohol level by investigating a urine sample or a blood sample. Urine analysis looks at the alcohol content of your urine (alcohol can take two or three hours to begin to show in one's urine) and a blood test directly tests your blood alcohol level.

A chemical test is both a duty and a right. If you believe that you have been arrested in error - something that can happen, for instance, when the alcohol on your breath is from nothing more than cough syrup - you need to demand a chemical test. Sometimes, arresting police personnel are reluctant to grant anything more than a breathalyzer test because the other tests are expensive and difficult to administer.

If you really are seriously drunk at the time of your arrest, you could exercise your right to refuse a chemical test even if the police want one. While such refusal can come with a serious penalty, the penalty could be lighter than what you face if a blood test proves that you are extremely incapacitated by alcohol.

Call up a DWI attorney

If you are caught in a DWI case, it's very important that you find an attorney who specializes in DWI cases. These are complex cases and need in the legal expertise of someone who is intimately familiar with the laws involved.

Once you've set called a lawyer, your next step should be to find a bail bondsman. While most people don't need to post bail to get out in a few hours, the police can sometimes be reluctant to let people they've arrested to go home. If you do need to post bail, going through a bail bondsman is cheaper than paying what the court asks for. When you go through a bail bondsman, you only need to pay a fraction of your actual bail.

Apply for a DMV hearing and get ready for your arraignment

Whether you get to keep your license or not depends on what the DMV decides, once it you make your case at the hearing. If you don't bother with this step, you will find that your license is revoked by default. You need to request a hearing and appear for your DMV hearing with your lawyer, to defend yourself.

Get ready for your arraignment

Every person arrested for a DWI offense is produced before a judge for a formal reading of the charges against him. This court appearance is called an arraignment. When you appear for your arraignment, the lawyer for the county will formally charge you with the DWI offense. The court will then ask you to plead “guilty” or “not guilty”.

It's important to plead not guilty. Being honest and owning up to your offense doesn't make the court view you with sympathy. Instead, it only hastens the sentencing.

When you plead not guilty, you get the right to a jury trial. A trial gives you the opportunity to examine the prosecution and challenge them on logical, technical and procedural grounds. For instance, people charged with DWI offenses are often able to have the charges against them set aside by proving that the police neglected to fill out detailed DWI forms at the scene of the arrest.

A DWI arrest is a serious matter. You can even be handed jail time. You need to follow all the steps recommended. If you take shortcuts, you can find that your sentence is harsher than it has to be.

Jeremy S works as a defense attorney. He loves to help people know what to do in critical situations by writing on consumer blogs.

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