I’ve been charged with a DWI

If you are charged with a DWI in New York State, it’s essential to understand what happens next. 

Immediately after being charged with a DWI, the steps you take can put you in a stronger position to defend yourself or weaken your case. The best thing to do is not panic and understand that often these charges can be lessened or even dismissed with the counsel and support of an experienced DWI attorney. 

Act Quickly After an Arrest

If you are arrested and taken to a police station after a failed field sobriety test, the best thing you can do is remain silent and say as little as possible. Be respectful to the arresting officers, but calmly maintain your right to remain silent until you speak with your DWI attorney. 

Your DWI attorney will guide you through the legal process and what you can expect to happen next. It is crucial to speak with your attorney soon after your arrest so that you can relay what has occurred while it’s still fresh in your mind. Your attorney will likely ask you critical questions about the traffic stop and testing and will get to work on your release so that you can go home.  

A DWI Lawyer Will Examine All Evidence

A DWI attorney will begin to work on your defense. Your lawyer will examine the evidence against you and may be able to find circumstances that strengthen your case. For example, sometimes stops made by the police lack reasonable suspicion of a crime, or perhaps correct procedure wasn’t followed during a stop.  If there are errors in a case, a top DWI lawyer will be able to find and utilize them for your benefit. 

What Happens After a DUI/DWI Arrest?

The Arraignment: 

The arraignment process usually takes place in court soon after your arrest. You are advised of the charges against you at this hearing, and the court will confiscate your driver’s license. With any drunk driving charge, your license will be suspended. Your attorney should be present for this appearance, and you will enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. Entering a plea of guilty may mean the judge sentences you there, and then, if you enter a plea of not guilty, a trial date will be set. 

Once you are released from custody, you should be given notice of when and where you will need to first appear in court. 

The Pre-trial Conference:

A pre-trial conference usually occurs within six weeks of your arraignment. The conference will occur with your DWI attorney and the District Attorney. At this meeting, the parties may raise the possibility of a plea bargain. A plea bargain for DWI is a deal struck between your attorney and the prosecutor where you agree to give up your right to a jury trial in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to reduced charges.

Suppression Hearing: 

A suppression hearing will rule on if your constitutional rights were violated; if so, the hearing will rule on the admissibility of specific evidence against you.

Trial & Sentencing: 

Depending on the nature of the charges against you, your trial date is usually set for three to six months after arraignment. A misdemeanor DWI in New York usually leads to a trial with six jurors. For a felony DWI (more than one offense, minors present in the vehicle, school bus, or commercial drivers, convictions that involve injuries or deaths), you have the right to a jury trial with twelve jurors. Alternatively, there can be a bench trial, where a judge acts as the jury.

The prosecution will attempt to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at the trial. Your DWI defense lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officers and call witnesses to the stand. The final step is sentencing which will be necessary in the case of a conviction at trial or if the judge accepts a plea bargain.

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