When you get arrested on DWI charges, you may feel like life as you know it is over. For many, these charges mean a lost job and the threat of fines, probation, jail, or losing a driver's license. If you hope to survive your DWI charges, it's important to know what you can still do to change your situation.
You Can Take Steps To Lighten Your Sentence
If you have a record free of drug- and alcohol-related infractions, you already have a leg up. Judges are more likely to soften the blow if they believe you're an average person who slipped up and not someone who's likely to reoffend. A history of community service, a good academic record, and character witnesses who can attest to your general goodness and morality can also drastically improve your position in the eyes of the court.
At a minimum, if you don't plan to contest the DWI charges, you should check yourself into a substance abuse recovery program. DWI charges are a sign that your alcohol use is out of control, and voluntarily attending treatment will help demonstrate to the judge that you are committed to learning how to drink responsibly, or quitting altogether.
You should also consider investing some time in service to your community, if you haven't already. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or sit with the elderly. Showing that you care about the people in your community is a good way to let the judge know that you care about other people and how your actions affect them.
A Skilled Attorney Can Save You From Jail
While jail time is possible for any DWI, not all charges are created equal. For first-time offenders who were caught with a BAC between .08 and .11, a good attorney may be able to get your charges reduced to reckless driving in exchange for your attendance at traffic school and substance recovery programs.
Even if your attorney cannot get your charges downgraded, an experienced DWI lawyer can also help to reduce your sentence. Instead of jail time, you might face probation. Any fines or license suspension might be lowered through the efforts of a good attorney.
If you are a repeat offender, a DWI lawyer is absolutely necessary for your case. Judges tend to be far harsher on someone with multiple DWIs than someone with only one, and you'll need a lawyer who can pull out all the stops if you want to avoid extended jail time and potentially losing your license for good.
Fines Don't Always Have To Be Paid All At Once
If your sentence includes a fine and you don't have the money to pay for it right away, you may feel like panicking. Fortunately, the court will give you a little wiggle room when it comes to paying mandated fines and fees.
Typically, you have 30 days to pay off a fine after sentencing. However, if you can demonstrate that you are low-income and paying the fine is impossible, you may be able to get a court-ordered deferment that allows you more time to get the money together. Depending on your state and your circumstances, some courts will even allow for payment plans.
A more unpleasant option some courts offer is the possibility of replacing your fine with jail time. If you cannot pay by the due date, you could end up in jail, where each day you spend locked up knocks off several dollars of your remaining total. If the due date on your fine is rapidly approaching and you want to avoid this outcome, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss any potential options you may have missed.
A DWI conviction doesn't have to be the end of everything. With expert legal counsel and a big effort on your part to give back to the community, you may be able to survive your conviction and get your life back. Click here for more information about how a lawyer can help you.