What Is a DWI Offense?
DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired, and depending on the state you have been arrested, there is really not much difference between DWI and DUI, which stands for Driving Under the Influence.
Either way, it means that the driver is being arrested for the offense of driving while drunk or intoxicated. This endangers not only their lives, but also those of other road users. With few exceptions, DWI is a criminal offense, and a conviction will appear as a criminal record.
The statistics are damning, and cases of drunk driving are ever-rising. Road accidents resulting from DWI are catastrophic with possible injuries, wrongful death, and property damage.
It gets a bit more complex if you are arrested out of state, say, during a vacation, as detailed below. This is because of the different laws on DWI, which varies according to the state in which the arrest took place. Is this a first time DWI arrest? Do you have any pending DWI charges?
Arrested Out of State?
Being arrested for a DWI outside your state of residence will further complicate the matter, and double penalties are a possibility. You may need to answer to charges in the state where the arrest occurred besides facing penalties in your resident state.
In addition to that, you may need to attend court proceedings out of state, which will definitely take a toll on your job. Commuting to and fro can also be an expensive and time-consuming affair.
Besides higher insurance premiums, a license suspension is an almost unavoidable possibility when faced with a DWI charge. Your license may be suspended even before court proceedings when your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) was over the limit, or you refused to take a test.
In the case of a conviction, the same will be communicated to your resident state, with a possibility of a license suspension.
Recovering your driver’s license will depend on individual state laws, and in some instances, it is not as straightforward.
If you skip court or don’t meet the requirements like paying fines, the suspension will remain in place indefinitely. Suspended licenses are recorded in the National Driver Registry, which is normally checked before issuance of a license. Note that driving without a license is illegal in all states, and that could further compound your legal problems.
In addition to a suspended license, should you be found guilty or plead so, possible sentences vary per state depending on your history with DWI as well as the extent of your actions. In Texas, for instance, your sentence may include the following:
- A community service stipulation
- Up to six months in jail
- Mandatory attendance of a rehabilitation program
- Fines of up to $2000
- The court may also authorize an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This acts as an electronic monitor and your car will not start until you take a test.
An arrest for a DWI can escalate real quick, and in every state, these are serious charges. It can get confusing when you are arrested outside your state, and as such, it is critical to contact a DWI attorney who is well versed with the laws of the state in which the arrest took place.
A qualified lawyer will help minimize the charges you are facing. They may even have the charges dismissed altogether, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Also, you might not have to personally attend court proceedings when you have legal representation by a resident DWI attorney.
Don’t just plead guilty because you have been arrested out of state -- get in touch with a competent lawyer!