DWI - Driving While Intoxicated

DWI - Driving While Intoxicated

1. What Is DWI?

DWI stands for driving while impaired and driving while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. And in every state, driving while intoxicated is a crime. Some states refer to it as DUI which stands for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

While DWI uses the word "driving", in some states a person does not need to be actually driving in order to be guilty of driving while intoxicated. Some states simply say that a person needs to "control" the vehicle. In other words, in some states, if a person is sitting behind the wheel, even if not driving, the person may be guilty of DWI.

Also, a person does not necessarily need to be driving a car, truck, bus, etc. on a public road. In some states, driving any vehicle such as a lawn mower or golf cart while impaired or intoxicated will suffice to make a person guilty of DWI even if the person is on private property.

Impairment or intoxication can be from alcohol or drugs. And the drugs can be either illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or over the counter drugs. Basically, any drug will qualify if the person takes the drug intentionally and it impairs the person's abilities.

2. What Are The Defenses To DWI?

Driving while intoxicated is actually a crime and must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In a typical DWI case, the prosecutor will prove the case by having the arresting officer testify as to what he saw of a person's driving or the situation and testify as to the sobriety test. When the intoxication is from alcohol, the prosecutor will also likely have Breathalyzer test results. The best defense to the arresting officer's testimony and the test results is for a DWI attorney to create reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the testimony or tests. If the attorney can create reasonable doubt, then the person charged with DWI should win.

In a very few cases, there may be other defenses such as entrapment, duress, necessity, or involuntary intoxication. With these defenses, a person is saying that he or she was driving impaired, but that he or she had a very good reason. Anyone asserting one of these defenses should be represented by a DWI lawyer because these defenses are complicated and technical. As you might guess, these defenses are not used very often.

3. What Are The Penalties For DWI?

Penalties for driving while intoxicated vary state to state. In most cases, the penalty is a fine, community service, probation, jail time, or limiting or suspending a person's driver's license. Generally, first time offenders receive a fine and community service. Each additional time that a person is found guilty of DWI, the penalties will increase until the person goes to jail and loses his or her drivers license.

Many states allow first time DWI offenders to participate in pretrial intervention programs which result in minimum penalties that may not show up on a person's driving record.

Because of the possibility of reducing the legal penalties, everyone stopped and charged with driving while intoxicated should consult with a DWI attorney.

This is general information only. If you have any questions whatsoever, talk with a DWI lawyer licensed in your state.

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