For everyone, DWIs are serious and terrible events — in most cases, they’re even life altering. But where do you start once you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence? If you’ve recently received a DWI, it’s likely that you have a lot of questions about how this whole thing will impact your life. With that in mind, following is a quick guide to help you through the whole process and what you should do after getting a DWI.
Seek Legal Counsel
Without a doubt, the first thing you’ll need to do after you’ve received a DWI is seek legal counsel. If for no other reason, legal counsel is critical because it’s important to understand the laws in your state when it comes to DWIs. By hiring a qualified attorney with experience in handling DWI cases, you can save time and stress and ultimately make this entire process smoother and less confusing. Also, it’s worth noting that if you do not have an attorney, you can alwaystry searching for one in your area.
Report to Court
There’s no way around this one —it’s critical that you show up to your court date in order to avoid any further legal trouble. In most states, there is a mandate that a DWI offender must appear in court before your state licensing authority or within 30 days of the arrest. To know the exact rules in your state, you should contact your legal counsel.
Follow Through With Punishment
In the courtroom, the judge on your case will sentence you to any number of punishments that will likely include fines, classes, probation, revocation (potentially restriction) of your license, and even jail time. It’s common sense that you should abide by your sentencing in order to comply with your conviction and move past it, ultimately getting your license back someday. As usual, the severity of your punishment will depend on the severity of your offense.
Obtain and Carry The Proper Insurance
After you’ve officially received aDWI, your insurance company will probably terminate your policy. However, if you still have your driver’s license, it’s crucial that you always carry insurance. In most states, it’s also required that you file an SR-22, which is a document serving as proof that you have the proper amount and type of insurance that is required by the state you live in.
Also, you will have to carry insurance and the SR-22 form for a minimum of three years; and if your policy lapses, your insurance provider is required by law to notify your state licensing authority likely resulting in the suspension of your driver’s license.
Get Your License Back
After you’ve been convicted of a DWI, you can expect to lose your license for a period of time. However, once you’ve completed your suspension, you may be eligible for a temporary or restricted license that will allow you to travel back and forth to work and the regular alcohol program you will probably be required to attend.
In order to be eligible to get your license back, you need to demonstrate that you’ve completed (or are in the process of completing) any punishment you’ve been sentenced to during your hearing. Additionally, you’ll also have to show your proof of insurance to the state you live in by filing your SR-22 with your insurance company. The last step is that you’ll have to pay any fee your state charges in order to reissue your license. For more information on this or any additional regulations you may need to regain your license, you should check with your local DMV.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney with the firm Bandré, Hunt & Snider, LLC in Jefferson City, MO. Bandré, Hunt & Snider specializes in helping their clients with DWI’s, personal injury and criminal defense cases.