Many drivers who have been charged with driving while intoxicated for the first time simply accept the consequences for their actions and vow to never allow this to happen again. If someone was injured during an accident while you were driving under the influence, however, you need skilled legal representation to prevent being assessed the worst penalties a judge can issue.
DWI Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
All states consider a standard first-time DWI offense to be a crime, but only a misdemeanor. However, the situation changes in many of these states when an accident occurs and another person was injured.
Depending on where you live, you may be facing felony charges. That can have serious negative consequences. In some states, causing bodily injury because of DWI is automatically considered a felony. In others, the prosecuting attorney can decide whether to issue the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor.
If there are any unusual circumstances involved in your case, a lawyer can use those to help you. For example, a person can be charged with DWI even if he or she did not commit any moving violations. For instance, if you were crossing an intersection and another driver ran a red light and hit your car, you can still be charged with DWI.
However, your lawyer can make sure you are not held responsible for injuries to the other driver. The attorney's influence may persuade the prosecuting attorney to issue the charge as a misdemeanor, if the jurisdiction allows it.
Maintaining Freedom With Legal Representation
In your state, the law may not require jail time for a first-time DWI that involves bodily injury to another person. However, a judge can sentence you to jail time up to a maximum amount, which depends on your jurisdiction.
Without skilled legal counsel, you probably have no effective way of defending yourself in court. It's a risky idea to think you don't need a lawyer because someone else you know only received a week's jail sentence in a similar situation. A judge may be allowed to sentence you to a year or more of incarceration solely at his or her discretion.
Contact an Attorney for a Consultation
If you hire a DWI lawyer, someone like Patrick McLaughlin Esq, he or she evaluates all the available evidence and may seek witnesses to testify on your behalf. This lawyer will know all the relevant laws for your circumstances, and can determine whether law enforcement engaged in any irregular procedures. Having this attorney represent you in court protects your rights and can prevent the worst consequences.