After a DWI arrest, certain actions can have avoidable yet serious consequences on the defendant’s ability to fight the charges in court. Unfortunately, there are a slew of simple mistakes that can have a severe negative impact on the case. Sometimes they can even make matters worse. Avoid complications by understanding ten of the most common mistakes people make after a DWI arrest.
Not hiring an attorney
Very often, people will try to defend themselves in court against a DWI charge. If they do choose to hire an attorney, they might wait too long to do so. Self-representation is never a good idea in any criminal case, least of all a DWI. A common saying in regards to the situation is that “an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” It is a simple mistake to avoid, yet one that many make. The potential consequences of being convicted of a DWI are too severe to make it worth the risk. Be sure to hire a competent lawyer, and do not wait too long to do so. The attorney will need ample time to put together a compelling defense.
Choosing an attorney based solely on fee
While it may seem like a good deal to hire an attorney who offers a significantly cheap rate, consider that the buyer may be getting what he pays for. It is not possible for a legitimate lawyer to do a decent job without charging a reasonable fee. So-called DWI attorneys advertising low rates tend to cut client service and do not work as hard to fight the charges. With such steep penalties upon conviction, cheaper is not necessarily the better option. Instead, look for a lawyer who is willing to work on a payment plan that fits the client’s needs.
Hiring an inexperienced DWI attorney
Similar to hiring based on fee alone, selecting an attorney that is not experienced in DWI cases could be costly in the long run. Some lawyers are willing to take on any case so long as they get paid. However, it is worth noting that just because someone graduated from law school, it does not mean he is automatically qualified for handling everything that comes his way. DWI charges deal with very specific laws, so it is in a client’s better interest to go with an attorney who focuses on criminal defense and has taken the time to study the complex statutes. Considerable preparation and familiarity with DWI laws is key to successfully fighting the charges, and this is better accomplished with a lawyer with a specific focus on such cases.
Failing to take the matter seriously
Because a DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, some people blow it off when they face a first-time offense. They think DWIs are handed out on a regular basis and fail to understand that they must handle their case very carefully. The truth is that a DWI conviction follows the defendant for a lifetime. Despite not being a felony charge, the punishments can be quite severe. Anyone charged with DWI faces those consequences, and each additional conviction after the first will lead to more serious degrees of punishment.
Ignoring potential consequences
Numerous collateral consequences exists in the aftermath of a DWI conviction – jail time, license suspension, probation, and increased insurance rates, just to name a few. Drivers with a CDL license face the possibility of losing their ability to drive commercial vehicles for long periods of time, maybe even for the rest of their life. The DPS requires those with a DWI conviction to pay $1,000 a year to maintain their driving privileges. Depending on circumstances, sentences may also include monthly probation fees, community services, or participating in an alcohol education program.
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