A night of fun can quickly turn into a real-life nightmare when you are accused of drunk driving. You may have the urge to just plead guilty and put the event behind you, but you should know that doing so could be a costly mistake.
There is a lot at stake when you plead guilty to a DWI in Missouri, even if it is your first charge. You face:
- A fine of up to $500
- A 30-day suspension of your driver's license followed by a 60-day restricted license
- Jail time of up to six months
- Required install of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
- Eight points assessed against your driver's license
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- A permanent criminal record
If it is your second DUI charge in five years or the charge is considered a felony, the potential consequences only get more serious. As you can see, pleading guilty to a DWI is not a decision to take lightly. At the very least, it is wise to ask an experienced attorney about your options.
You may have a valid defense and not know it
If you don't think that you were actually impaired when you were arrested for drunk driving, then by all means fight the charges.
However, even if you feel like there is evidence stacked against you, such as a failed breathalyzer test, you still may have a defense in your case such as:
- The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place
- The officer did not use an objective standard for the basis of your arrest
- The officer who arrested you was not properly trained to perform field sobriety testing
- The officer made a mistake when instructing you on how to take the test or scoring the test
- The Breathalyzer machine was not used or calibrated properly
Don't forget about the administrative hearing
A DWI involves more than just a criminal court proceeding. You could lose your driver's license automatically if you fail to request an administrative hearing within 15 days. The administrative law license suspension or revocation can take place even if the criminal DWI charge is reduced or dismissed.
Far too many people overlook this important part of the DWI process, which can actually be used as an opportunity to get the information needed to build your defense as well as protect your driver's license.