What You Should Know About Your DWI Arrest
With more than quarter century of legal experience, I am aware that you have questions after being arrested for a DWI. I am here to help you and provide you with knowledge going forward. These are some of the most common questions I have been asked.
Q: Am I required to take a blood alcohol content test?
A: Missouri law requires that you submit to a chemical test when requested by an officer, despite certain legal advantages that might exist in refusing the test. If you refuse to take the test, you will automatically have your license suspended for one year. The police officer will take away your license and give you a 15-day temporary permit until the court decides whether to uphold your license suspension. As your attorney, my goal is to regain your license and let you get back to your life.
Q: What happens after I am arrested?
A: Once arrested for DWI, there will be a criminal case and an administrative case. The criminal case makes you eligible for a fine, conviction or possible jail time. The administrative case focuses on the suspension of your driver’s license. There is a time limit on challenging your suspended license and waiting too long could impact your ability to drive in the future and your rights.
Q: How Long Will My License Be Suspended?
A: First of all, you should know it is my goal to save your driving privileges. First-time offenders face losing their driving privileges, serving a one-year revocation for refusing the breath test, and a 90-day suspension for blowing over the legal limit. Restricted driving privileges are available after 30 days in a breath case, and 90 days in a refusal case. Prior alcohol offenses or suspensions on record could affect these suspension periods.
Q: Can a chemical test be contaminated?
A: If you have diabetes, are on a certain diet, have dentures or take allergy medications — these can affect the result of a chemical test. If you happen to be running a fever, the results of your breath case can be contaminated. In Missouri, if you are being administered a breath test, the officer is required to observe you for 15 minutes prior to administering the test.
Q: Do I have to consent to a vehicle search?
A: If police ask to search your vehicle, always decline. Officers only have the authority to search your vehicle if they have a warrant, if they have probable cause, or if you give them permission to conduct a search. When they ask to search your vehicle, it is often because they do not have the authority to search your vehicle without permission. Even if you have nothing to hide, decline this vehicle search, as it could only hurt your case if the officer finds something they could use against you.
Q: Will I lose my job if I am convicted of DWI?
A: It’s no guarantee, but you may lose your job if convicted for DWI. Missouri is an at-will employment state, meaning that employers may fire their workers for virtually any reason at any time. If they find out you were convicted of a crime, they may decide to let you go. The best way to avoid this is to pursue the strongest defense you can from the moment you are arrested. An arrest alone is not likely to get you fired from your job, but a conviction might.
Q: Why do I need a criminal defense attorney? Can’t I just represent myself?
A: It is highly recommended to hire a DWI defense attorney rather than represent yourself. Prosecutors are trained to prove your guilt, and it’s difficult to counter their tactics alone. You will likely be tricked into admitting guilt to some degree, and may even fall victim to unlawful prosecutory practices. With so much at stake, you need to treat your case seriously from the start and put your future in the hands of a proven attorney.