DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, is a punishable offense in most states and in many countries. Depending on the situation, a DWI can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony crime, and the penalties will vary accordingly.
However, as with any legal case, the driver is innocent until proven guilty- and a proper defense laid out by a DWI defense attorney could be useful in reducing or dismissing charges. This is important, as thought penalties vary between states, common forms of punishment often involve fees, license restrictions, and potential jail time.
Charges and subsequent penalties often depend on the amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream upon arrest, which is a percentage known as BAC (blood alcohol concentration). If a driver’s BAC is higher than the state limit, which is usually around 0.8%, then drivers will be arrested and subject to charges thereafter. If one’s BAC is particularly high, then the driver may face a higher penalty although this depends on state regulations.
Driving while intoxicated is commonly considered a misdemeanor, and first-time offenders will face less severe penalties than those facing felony charges. These traditionally involve fees to be paid, license bans or restrictions, as well as potential short-term jail sentences which are limited to six months imprisonment.
However repeat offenders, or DWI cases that involve the injury or death of another party, may be charged with a felony crime and could subsequently result in prolonged jail sentences. Whereas misdemeanor charges are limited to months in prison, felony crimes could result in charges involving several years imprisonment in addition to a license ban and a fee payment.
DWI defenses used to dismiss, or lower charges often involve disproving test results or finding faults in equipment used. These defenses are commonly used by attorneys who are defending a person charged with driving while intoxicated. A common defense used in DWI cases is the idea that the breathalyzer equipment used to test the BAC of drivers is prone to faultiness and misreadings and that it may have been calibrated inadequately prior to use. This can be further supported by the notion that breathalyzers do not allow for independent retesting, as samples cannot be preserved, so the reliability of the equipment cannot be determined.
A further defense used in DWI cases is the issue of procedures used to test for inebriated drivers. These often involved field sobriety tests, which require the driver to perform various activities to prove their sobriety. A common defense used by attorneys is that the driver may be unable to perform well in tests, particularly those involving eye movements, for other reasons relating to fatigue, medication use or disabilities.