When convicted by trial or through pleading guilty to “driving while under the influence” (DUI or DWI), a driver faces a wide possibility of repercussions.
Your license can be suspended immediately:
- If you refuse to take field sobriety tests when requested to do so by a police officer. This happens whether or not you are ultimately convicted of being intoxicated in excess of the legal limits governed by that area’s laws.
- In some states, even if you cooperate with the police officer and take the field sobriety tests, you can be arrested for being intoxicated or under the influence while driving and your license is suspended at that point.
Your case may be resolved by a plea bargain before you ever get to trial. If you get an attorney, she or he may try to resolve your case by working with the prosecuting attorney – the state attorney. Also, court calendars are heavily loaded, so the state attorney may contact your attorney to try to make these arrangements.
A plea bargain means that you would agree to plead guilty to some lesser charge than DUI – perhaps a reckless driving charge, public intoxication, or open container – and your sentence will be arranged between the state attorney and your attorney without your having to go to court. You might have to pay a fine, attend driving school, or perform community service, for instance. This option depends on the seriousness of your crime.
If your DUI involved a great deal of property damage, personal injury, or a death, however, your plea bargain may involve your pleading guilty to DUI rather than a more serious charge such as manslaughter. You cannot arrange a plea bargain without an attorney or a public defender.
An individual who has been convicted of DUI may “appeal” his or her case, asking a higher court to review certain aspects of the case for legal error, as to either the conviction itself or the sentence imposed.