What can I Expect from a First DWI?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A DWI, or DUI, is a criminal charge filed for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol. This crime is frequently regarded as quite serious by many legal systems, as driving while impaired can endanger and cost lives. A first DWI charge can result in a variety of legal actions and penalties; many experts recommend getting legal counsel immediately to smooth the way through the proceedings.

A DWI is a serious criminal offense.
A DWI is a serious criminal offense.

If a person fails a sobriety test, he or she is generally arrested immediately and brought to a police station. The individual may be imprisoned for several hours until he or she sobers up. The vehicle used in the incident is typically impounded at the suspect's expense. After being officially charged with the DUI, a first time offender is generally released from jail until his or her court date. During this period, the accused must generally contact authorities in charge of licensing, as a first DWI may result in a suspended license.

Jail time is one possible consequence for driving while intoxicated.
Jail time is one possible consequence for driving while intoxicated.

The court procedure for a first DWI is generally simple, but may vary somewhat between regions. In front of a judge, both the defendant and a representative of the accusing party, such as the officer involved in the arrest, present their sides of the story. Evidence, such as the result of a sobriety test, is given to the judge, who can then determine the guilt and sentence for the accused.

Subsequent DUI arrests often result in longer jail time and probation, and stiff fines.
Subsequent DUI arrests often result in longer jail time and probation, and stiff fines.

When convicted of a first DWI, a person may be sentenced to many different penalties. Some courts will require the defendant to attend therapy to deal with alcohol addiction or programs to improve safe driving. Ideally, the judge generally wishes to make sure that a first DWI never turns into a second or third.

Jail time, community service, and fines are all possible punishments for a first DWI offender. If property damage has occurred, the defendant is usually liable for the cost. If the defendant caused an accident that resulted in the injury of other people, more severe punishments are likely. In the tragic event that a crash while under the influence resulted in a fatality, the drunk driver is usually charged with serious criminal offenses that may require higher penalties because of the involvement of alcohol.

A first DWI can carry associated penalties related to the judgment, though not necessarily ordered by the court. Licensing bodies may choose to suspend a person's license for months or even years, depending on the severity of the incident. In addition, a person with a DWI conviction may find it difficult to get auto insurance or see a significant increase in insurance premiums.

A person caught driving while intoxicated will likely have to attend drunk driving education workshops.
A person caught driving while intoxicated will likely have to attend drunk driving education workshops.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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