Being charged with driving while intoxicated can change your life forever. Not only will you have to appear in court, but it could also cost you the loss of your job and the respect of friends and family. There are also many other penalties and consequences, and knowing what they are before appearing for your court date may help you understand what to expect, depending on the severity of the offense.
1. Does a DWI Mean a Prison Sentence?
While you may be arrested initially, you will likely be able to post bail if this is your first offense. If you have been convicted of DWI previously, you may be looking at a stiffer sentence that could include imprisonment. You may want to contact an attorney if you believe that a second conviction will earn you jail time.
2. Is a DWI a Felony?
If you happen to get pulled over and the police officer finds you are intoxicated, this typically does not mean you have committed a felony. However, if you injure a passenger in your car, a pedestrian, or anyone else sharing the road with you, this could turn the drunk driving offense into a felony. This also applies if you caused severe injury or death to anyone. Your attorney will likely let you know the nature of the offense during your initial consultation.
3. Will My Car Be Impounded?
When you are placed under arrest for drunk driving, it is likely that your car will be impounded. Your spouse or family member may be able to retrieve it for you in the days following the offense; however, the prosecutor may request that the car remains in impound for up to 30 days, depending on the seriousness of the charge.
4. What Fees Does a DWI Incur?
Not all drunk driving cases are the same, so the fees you are charged may vary. State and local laws may also affect cost. Most DWI fines are over $1,000 and can range up into the thousands of dollars. You may want to ask your attorney if he or she can set up a payment plan with the court if the total amount is impossible for you to pay all at once.
5. Can Injured Parties Sue?
Anyone who is injured because you were driving drunk has the right to file a civil claim. You may be found responsible for medical bills, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Families of those unable to file themselves can do so on their behalf, in most cases.
It can be difficult to face a DWI charge alone. Contact an attorney today to learn more about how this situation might affect your future.