Operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Driving under the influence. Just hearing these terms can make you break out in a sweat, and for good reason. The penalties for an OWI or DUI can be serious and long-term. Unfortunately, the consequences can become much more serious if you make these errors after your OWI/DUI arrest.
You refuse a breath or blood test.
Your driver’s license comes with your “implied consent” to take a breath or blood test. Failure to agree to a breath, blood, or any other test can result in penalties worth than your OWI/DUI. These kind of cases are also often harder to contest than the OWI/DUI.
You haven’t requested an administrative hearing.
If your breath or blood test shows a .08 BAC or higher, you have 10 days to request a hearing. An administrative hearing is your chance to forgo a pre-conviction suspension. It can also impact the future of your case. If you have any concerns about the hearing or the future of your case, contact a local attorney for additional information and advice (here are tips for your initial meeting here).
You’re not worried about your job.
Truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi cab drivers, or anyone with driving responsibilities on the job, beware: an OWI/DUI conviction can have serious implications on the ability to do your work and the possible loss of your occupational license. It could even result in the loss of your job. Even if it’s just a first OWI/DUI conviction, the first offense can stay on your record for the duration.
You haven’t contacted an attorney.
If you are accused of operating a vehicle with a BAC above .08, you can plead guilty and accept the penalties (don’t hesitate to ask if you don’t know) or you can consult a lawyer to find out if plea bargaining or sentence bargaining is a possibility. Every situation is different; it’s your decision whether to consult a lawyer to work on your behalf. There are certain situations, however, where it’s clear that contacting a lawyer is in your best interest:
- You have previous OWI’s/DUI’s. The penalties get more severe with consecutive offenses. A second offense or an offense that involves parties under 18 may come with the possibility of jail time or an investment in expensive equipment (i.e. ignition interlock, etc.).
- Your blood alcohol content was .15 or higher. With a higher BAC comes stricter penalties, even if this is your first OWI/DUI arrest.
- There was an injury or death connected to your OWI/DUI. Depending on your driving history, seriousness of the injuries, and facts of the accident, you could face mandatory jail time and up to $10,000 in fines (as well as other costs stemming from the offense).