Facing DWI charges can be an extremely challenging time. You might fear the punishment of making a mistake or are potentially unable to pay the fine. Fortunately, there are options, especially for first-time offenders. Speak with an experienced DWI lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri before you make any decisions.
One of the best things that you can do is arm yourself with knowledge. Understanding how to handle this situation and knowing what options you have can make it a less stressful process and put you in the best position to make the best out of a bad situation.
Options when facing a DWI charge
The first step after a DWI charge is figuring out what your options are. There are three primary options listed as follows:
- Plead guilty
- Plea bargain
- Proceed to trial
Pleading guilty is simple and easy to understand. All this means is that you accept the charges against you and admit that you are guilty of the crime. You may want to take the minimum penalty and put the charge in the past. This makes the process run smoothly and does not take up a lot of time, but it may not always be the best idea.
Plea bargaining is a very common choice among those facing a DWI in Missouri. The goal of a plea bargain is for the defense and prosecution to agree on a lesser charge such as reckless driving, for example. If this is your first DWI arrest, this may be the best possible choice as the court system tends to recognize that mistakes do happen.
Proceeding directly to trial will allow you to supply evidence of innocence to either a judge or jury. If, for example, your blood alcohol content (BAC) was below .08%, there is a good chance of winning your case. That said, the higher your BAC was, the more likely it is that you will be convicted of the charge.
It’s important to be aware of the penalties you might be facing if convicted. DWIs are Class B misdemeanors, and the penalty increases for each offense. Depending on your BAC, your first DWI could result in required alcohol treatment, a maximum of six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
First-time offenders in Missouri will also have their licenses suspended for 90 days. However, you may be able to receive restricted driving privilege, which allows you to drive during this 90-day period with an Ignition Interlock Device.
Making a mistake and receiving a DWI can be stressful but understanding what your options are and how to best approach the situation can make it easier.