When It Does And Does Not Make Sense To Hire A DWI Attorney

If you are being charged with driving while impaired (DWI), then you are likely considering hiring a DWI attorney to represent you. In most cases, DWI is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, which means that these charges are serious and should not be taken lightly. At a minimum, you are facing fines and penalties against your license, including a likely suspension. Jail time is usually on the table as well, although the likelihood that you will actually end up behind bars will vary depending on the details of your case.

First Offense

If this is your first DWI offense and your record is otherwise clean, then it may not make sense to hire an attorney. In the vast majority of cases, prosecutors will offer a plea to first-time offenders. This plea may include a relatively small amount of jail time (generally three days or less) if your state imposes a minimum jail penalty for DWI convictions. Additionally, you can expect to pay a fine and have your license suspended. If you need your vehicle to travel to and from work, then prosecutors will often allow provisional driving privileges for this specific purpose. Note, however, that you are not guaranteed a favorable plea deal.

If you believe that the plea you will be offered will not be acceptable, then hiring an attorney and providing no additional information to the police or prosecutor may make the most sense. While you may still ultimately choose to enter a guilty plea, your attorney can help you to negotiate the prosecutor's terms down to a more acceptable level.

Past Convictions

If you have been convicted of DWI in the past, then you will likely face much stiffer penalties. Some states impose mandatory minimum jail time for repeat offenders, and you will almost certainly be charged fines that are closer to the maximum allowed by statute. Your license may be suspended for a much longer period of time or revoked altogether. In many cases, you may not be allowed the same provisional driving privileges that you would with a first-time offense. Depending on how many prior convictions you have, your charges may also be upgraded to felony charges.

In any of these cases, it is vital that you have an attorney to represent you. As with first-time cases, an attorney can still provide a valuable service even if you expect to plead guilty. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may be able to reduce or eliminate penalties that you find unacceptable, such as large jail sentences.

Cases with Severe Circumstances

Even if this is your first offense, there are certain circumstances where it is absolutely vital that you do not attempt your own defense. If anyone was injured as the result of your DWI, then you can expect your charges to be upgraded. The penalties you face will likely be drastically more severe, and the services of a lawyer are absolutely necessary to guarantee that you receive a fair defense. This is also the case if you caused serious property damage or if you were stopped for DWI while also engaging in other reckless behavior.

Ultimately, it is important to understand that DWI charges are serious and they carry with them the possibility of serious penalties. Conviction can result in jail time, the confiscation of your car, and an inability to hold certain jobs in the future. A lawyer can help to defend you in cases where you are being charged unfairly and reduce the penalties you face even if you intend to enter a guilty plea.