Drinking and driving may seem trivial, but the consequences can be serious—and not always readily apparent at the time. A few beers, a failed field sobriety test, or a high test can lead to jail time, loss of driving privileges, significant financial losses, and increased insurance premiums, just to name a few.
In 2003, Wisconsin lowered the blood alcohol content level for all drivers to .08. If you are one of those drivers accused of operating a vehicle with a BAC above that level, you can plead guilty and accept the penalties (if you are clear what those are-don’t be hesitant to ask) or you can consult a lawyer to find out what other options are available to you, such as plea bargaining or sentence bargaining. Every situation is different (both facts and financially), so it’s up to you to decide whether to consult a lawyer to work on your behalf. There are certain situations, however, where it’s clear that hiring a lawyer is in your best interest.
You have previous offenses on your record.
If this is not your first serious driving offense, or you have a previous DUI, OWI, or DWI on your record, the stakes are higher this time around. Second offenses, or offenses that involve minors, can carry possible jail time. In addition, your second or consecutive offenses can mean a significant financial investment in other equipment required by your local enforcement agency (i.e. devices in your vehicles, home, etc.) Contacting a lawyer can give you exact information about penalties and any possible options that may be available to your specific situation.
Your BAC was twice the legal limit.
If your BAC was .15 or higher, the penalties for your offense are likely to be stricter (even if your first offense). In this situation, a lawyer may be able to assist you in sentence negotiations that could lessen your costs, time served, and any other penalties—depending on your situation. The good news is that finding out the specific penalties and options may be free if the lawyer you contact offers a initial consultation. Here’s how to make the most of your time with your lawyer so you don’t waste your—or your lawyer’s—time.
Someone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI.
If someone in your vehicle or the other vehicle was injured or killed, the proverbial legal ballgame has changed. 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). Contacting a lawyer is a good idea in this case, both because of the seriousness of the penalties and the potential options that your lawyer may be aware of.
You have a job that requires a clean driving record.
If your livelihood is on the line, your penalties could have life-altering implications especially if your job involves significant driving. In this case, it makes “cents” to contact a lawyer to find out your options so you can increase your chances of possibly keeping your license and livelihood.