When you get arrested for drunk driving in Wisconsin, you need to be very careful to protect yourself. A conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) or driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC) can lead to steep penalties. It can negatively impact your life in other ways as well; and, between fines, court costs, and increased insurance premiums, it can prove incredibly expensive.
How can you protect yourself after a drunk driving arrest? At this stage, there are both steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid. Here are 10 “Dos” and “Don’ts” for individuals facing OWI/PAC charges in Wisconsin:
DO: Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
When you are facing a drunk driving charge in Wisconsin, you should exercise your right to remain silent. It’s true what they say on TV: Anything you say can and will be used against you.
This applies not only when it comes to talking to police and prosecutors (which you shouldn’t do without your lawyer present), but also when it comes to discussing your case with others or on social media. When you are facing an OWI or PAC charge, you should only discuss your case with your defense lawyer.
DON’T: Assume You Can Talk Your Way Out of a Conviction
Many people assume that they will be able to walk into court and talk their way out of a conviction. But, this is not the case, and it reflects a fundamental understanding of the nature of drunk driving prosecutions. Judges in Wisconsin take OWI and PAC charges very seriously; and, even if you don’t deserve to be found guilty, saying the wrong thing could still lead to a conviction.
DO: Make Sure You Know Your Court Date
After a drunk driving arrest, your initial court appearance will take place relatively quickly. You need to make sure you know your court date, and you need to make plans to be there on time (unless your defense lawyer says otherwise).
When you appear in court, you need to dress and act professionally, and you need to do exactly what your defense lawyer says. Appearing before a judge with your future on the line is not a time to take chances.
DON’T: Miss Your Court Date
Missing your court date after a drunk driving arrest can be a very costly mistake. If you miss your court date, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest, and you can face consequences regardless of whether you deserve to be convicted of OWI or PAC.
DO: Get Counseling or Treatment if You Need It
Many people struggle with alcohol dependence. If you need counseling or treatment, you should seek help promptly. While it can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, getting the counseling or treatment you need is the right choice, and you will be glad you did it.
Going to counseling or seeking treatment will also show the judge that you are taking your situation seriously. This can help with your defense—and, if you aren’t sure where to go, your lawyer can give you some options.
DON’T: Get Caught Driving Drunk Again
While you have an OWI or PAC charge pending, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is driving drunk again. If you get another OWI or PAC charge, the risks you are facing will increase significantly. Repeat offenders face enhanced penalties in Wisconsin, including the possibility of up to six months in jail.
DO: Start Thinking About the Defenses You May Have Available
Regardless of the facts of your case, you have defenses available. At the very least, your defense lawyer can argue that the prosecution’s evidence doesn’t prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
But, there are numerous ways to beat an OWI or PAC charge in Wisconsin, and now is a good time to start thinking about the defenses you may have available. If you think a defense may apply, make a note to discuss it with your defense lawyer.
DON’T: Make Assumptions or Rely on “Defenses” That Don’t Work
While there are several ways to fight a drunk driving charge, there are also many “defenses” that don’t actually work. When you are facing an OWI or PAC charge, you need to make informed decisions about your defense, and you need to avoid making any assumptions that could lead to a conviction.
DO: Talk to a Wisconsin Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
Given the penalties you are facing and all of the various mistakes that can lead to unnecessary consequences, you need an experienced Wisconsin drunk driving defense lawyer on your side. You should hire a lawyer as soon as possible, and your first step is to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
While some people worry about the cost of hiring a defense lawyer, hiring an experienced lawyer can actually save you money in the long run. If your lawyer is able to get your charge reduced or help you avoid a conviction entirely, this could save you thousands of dollars in penalties, surcharges, and increased insurance premiums.
DON’T: Try to Handle Your OWI/PAC Case on Your Own
Regardless of whether you believe you are innocent or guilty, you should not try to handle your OWI/PAC case on your own. It simply isn’t worth it. You have too much at stake, and there is too much an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer can do to help you.
Contact Us for a Free OWI/PAC Defense Consultation in Middleton, WI
If you need more information about what to do (or what not to do) after a drunk driving arrest in Wisconsin, we invite you to get in touch. We will arrange for you to speak with one of our lawyers in confidence as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer at our Middleton, WI law offices, call 608-257-0440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.