DUI/DWI and Major Traffic Practice

Whether you’re driving impaired, without a license, or suspended, you face jail time whether it’s your first offense or your fourth.

Hiring the right attorney to represent you ensures that he or she will look at the basis for the stop to make sure it was lawful, the training of law enforcement to ensure they were properly trained to perform field tests or breath tests, and the certification of the testing equipment.

A lot of other facts and circumstances will determine what the state can prove at trial, such as whether you were polite and cooperative, whether you made any admissions or statements, and how well you performed on field sobriety tests. Remember, you don’t have to do the field sobriety tests and you can refuse the breath tests. You might face MVA consequences for refusing to take a breath test, but you also might limit what evidence the state has to convict you.

  • DUI – driving while under the influence of alcohol

  • DWI – the lesser offense – is driving while impaired by alcohol

These offenses differ in degree. The DUI means you’re substantially impaired by alcohol. If you participated in a breathalyzer and blew above a .08, you will also be charged with DUI Per Se. That means once the state introduces evidence that you blew a .08 or above, you are presumed to have been substantially impaired by alcohol. A DWI means you were impaired to some extent. You may also be charged with DUI or DWI while impaired by drugs, which will also require the state to prove that fact through expert testimony.

Two other common, major traffic offenses are:

  • Driving without a license

  • Driving while revoked or suspended

When searching around for an attorney to represent you in a major traffic case, make sure he or she has the right experience level. Contact Steve to see how he can help you.

Finding the Right Criminal or DUI Attorney for You

So now you’ve found yourself charged with a crime and you’re unsure what to do. At the very least, you need to refrain from talking to law enforcement without counsel present and begin the search for a lawyer. Where do you start?

The internet is a great place to search. Google criminal or DUI attorneys in the area where you were charged. Many will pop up. Research the background of these attorneys and call a few to find out if they’ve handled your type of case before. Ask what they think the expected outcome would be based on similar facts. Remember, the police and the police report will always tell a story different than your version of events, so be prepared for that. A good attorney will be honest with you and won’t sugarcoat the possible outcomes. If you find an attorney promising that you’ll “get off”, don’t believe it and keep searching. If the facts of your case are bad, not even the best attorney in the world can change that. But a good attorney will ensure that your rights are protected, motions are litigated, and every angle is reviewed in your case.

The cost of representation is always going to be a factor. If you’re unemployed and can’t afford an attorney, you have the right to be represented by the public defender. If you can afford counsel, the cheapest attorney is not necessarily the best choice. Like everything in life, there are discount attorneys and you always get what you pay for. And remember that not all attorneys will do a payment plan with you; in fact, most will not. Attorneys, once they enter their appearance in your case, are stuck whether they get paid or not. So, don’t expect a payment plan. Experience comes at a cost—and so does your freedom. Ask yourself what that’s worth to you and choose accordingly.

Overall, you must feel comfortable with the attorney you hire, the cost you will pay, and the expected outcome in your case. A good attorney, who is paid well and has a lot of experience, can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Choose wisely.

MVA Penalties in DUI/DWI Cases

So you’ve just been stopped and arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while impaired. The next thing law enforcement will want you to do is submit to a breath test. If you submit and blow over a .08 BAC, you will be charged with DUI Per Se, which makes it easy for the state to convict you if the test result comes into evidence. If you refuse to take the test, the MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration) will suspend your license.

If this is your first refusal, your license will be suspended for 270 days. If you have a CDL and refuse, you’ll lose your CDL. If you agree to put an ignition interlock (commonly called a blow and go) device in your car, your suspension will be modified to allow you to drive, but you’ll need to keep that device in your car for a year. If this is a second or more refusal, the penalties increase significantly and you should discuss this with counsel.

Even if you get a modified suspension and install a blow-and-go, if convicted of a DUI or DWI, you might also face points on your license that can lead to other suspensions. If you had a high BAC, you might have to submit to the Medical Advisory Board before you can have your suspension modified or lifted.

There are ways to challenge the imposition of a suspension, but these require a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings. These hearings are conducted before an Administrative Law Judge who will listen to certain facts and circumstances surrounding your case and the statutory provisions involved in the type of suspension you’re facing. An experienced DUI/DWI attorney will know and understand how to present your case before the Administrative Law Judge to try to get you a favorable outcome.

Learn how Steven can help you