By the time you realize it was a mistake to get behind the wheel of a vehicle because you were drunk, it’s probably too late. Hopefully for you, it happens when a cop pulls you over instead of moments after a car accident. The poor decisions that lead up to a driver’s decision to operate a vehicle while drunk can vary, but after they get arrested for DWI, it’s all pretty much the same. Here is what you can expect after being charged with a DWI:
- The first thing that will happen is you will be arrested. The law does not tolerate intoxicated drivers, and the police will not hesitate to take you to the station and book you on suspicion of DWI. While you wait in jail to be released, all of your belongings will be confiscated and you will be forced into a holding cell with other inmates.
- Next, you will be given a court date to be summoned before a judge. You will be faced with the officer’s evidence that you were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, and the you will have to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you can expect to spend 3 to 180 days in jail, if the crime happened in Texas.
- If you are found guilty, your driver’s license will be suspended. This is a mandatory punishment, and it doesn’t matter if you have to pick the kids up from school or go to work. Some states will allow you to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device that requires you to blow into the machine every time you need to start the car.
- The court will mandate that you pay significant fines and steep penalties, even if the police caught you before anyone else was hurt. The cost of DWI varies between each state, but in Texas, you face up to a $2,000 fine.
- Repeat offenders will be incarcerated for longer periods of time than first time offenders. However, most states have a minimum jail sentence for even first time offenders.
- After you are released from jail, you will be placed on probation. Your probation officer will be responsible for ensuring you stay out of trouble until your probationary period ends, and they have the right to contact you at anytime. You will be required to regularly visit their office, and they may ask you difficult questions to determine if you are telling the truth.
- You may be required to attend an alcohol awareness program because of your poor decisions. The course costs money and takes time to complete. You will need to provide the court with proof that you completed the course in the limited amount of time they give you.
- Your insurance will go up. After you have paid your fines, spent time in jail, missed work, and installed your ignition interlock device, you will still have to deal with your insurance representative. Plans can double, if not triple, for convicted DWI drivers.