Most people never expect to find themselves arrested and behind bars for anything, much less for driving while intoxicated (DWI). It's important that those arrested for DWI understand what to expect after an arrest. This can be a stressful experience for most, and it's easy to lose sight of the need to fight against the charge. Read on for some things to think about after you've been arrested for DWI.
Cope With Jail
A lot of unfamiliar things will happen after you are arrested. In most cases, you are taken to the local jail and booked. Your mug shot is taken, and you are searched. You may have to exchange your clothes for jail clothes. This is all humiliating, but you will likely be released in a matter of hours. Any time you do remain behind bars is credited to your record. That means if you spend 24 hours in jail and are sentenced to three days in jail, you only have to serve two more days. Most leave jail after they've sobered up but they often do so without a vital item — their driver's license.
Pay Attention to Your Paperwork
Some arrested for DWI are so stunned that they fail to notice the documents they are given as they leave the jail. In some cases, DWI defendants are issued a piece of paper with instructions on dealing with their driving privileges. Your driver's license is usually confiscated by law enforcement — that license is now void and never to be seen again. The paper license — if you get one — is only temporary. It's vital that you pay close attention to the information on the paper license. It will tell you when it expires, how it can be used, and what you need to do next in regard to getting your license reinstated. You may need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within a very short period of time to request a hearing. The other important paperwork you get concerns your upcoming court appearance. You will be provided with a date to appear several weeks in the future.
Get an Attorney and Be Proactive
It's best not to wait too long before seeking legal help. The faster you act, the more in control of the situation you will be. Also, you might want to make some positive defensive moves as soon as you can:
- Put pen to paper and write down everything you can remember about what happened, from the time you had your first drink onward. Details that might seem irrelevant to you could matter greatly to your case.
- Try to contact anyone who saw you before the arrest and get their names and contact information. For example, if you were at a party, make a list of people you were with at the time and save this information for your lawyer.
DWI cases can be difficult to deal with, and the punishments go far beyond losing your right to drive. Speak to a DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible.