Few things are more terrifying than being arrested for drunk driving. Most are intimidated by investigating officers to begin with. First you are questioned by the officer by your vehicle. If he or she smells intoxicating beverages you will be asked to exit your vehicle for field sobriety tests. Make no mistake, at this point most officers have made up their mind as to how you will spend the rest of your evening. Many officers have confirmed in their testimony that they are looking for evidence that confirms their suspicion that you are under the influence. They are not looking for exculpatory evidence or proof that you are sober. After two or three field tests and perhaps a preliminary breath test at road side, you will be placed in handcuffs and taken for chemical testing.
Virtually every state has an implied consent law that requires that you submit to a test of your breath, blood or urine. In Wisconsin, on repeat offenses, if you refuse your blood will be taken against your will and you will receive additional penalties for the refusal and have only 10 days to request a hearing on that refusal. If no one can be reached to take you home, you will be held in custody for twelve hours until you sober up. In counties that “Fast Track” criminal OWI’s you could be in front of a Court Commissioner within a few days.
The question this raises is Now What? Many will hold off on seeking counsel or not hire a lawyer at all. This can have devastating consequences. ALL court appearances are important and you should have an experienced, aggressive lawyer at all of them. This is especially true at your intake appearance. This is more than an opportunity to enter a not guilty plea on your behalf and set your matter over for another appearance. The Court will make a determination of probable cause as to the criminal complaint and decide the terms of your bail. This could be the difference between you going home right away or waiting until someone can post cash bail for you. After one night in jail, you won’t want to spend any more. The Court will also assign conditions of your release. This is your opportunity to have an influence on those conditions. Appearing without an experienced, aggressive attorney is a major mistake.
A competent drunk driving lawyer will have the skills necessary to review your case and determine the best strategy . Motions might be filed that could alter the outcome of your case. Perhaps a jury would find you “Not Guilty.” You won’t know the answer to these questions unless you seek qualified counsel.
Most lawyers practicing in this area will meet with you and discuss the merits of your case.ake the time to ask them a few questions. Particulary important is that the attorney you select practices in this field regularly. Generally speaking, it is better to do one thing well than many things poorly. Also, ask the
lawyer whether he or she is familiar with the court your matter is being heard in. In Wisconsin, criminal defendant’s have a right to substitution which must be exercised before a not guilty plea is entered and before any motions are filed. You need an experienced, aggressive lawyer who knows which judges to substitute on to assure that you get the best possible result.
Finally, it is advisable to examine your drinking habits. If you have been arrested for drunk driving on more than one occasion, alcohol has negatively affected you life at least twice. Assessment and counseling is in your best interest as it will improve the outcome in the event you end up in front of a sentencing judge and you are less likely to get into this type of situation again.