After being arrested for DWI, at least two and up to four separate legal actions (lawsuits) are initiated against a person facing charges. These cases are complex, and if you’re facing these charges, you probably have a lot of questions.
Everyone is familiar with the criminal action of a DWI. This is the first action that most people think of when a person is arrested for DWI. This action requires you to appear in Court to address the allegations of DWI. There are various penalties related to the criminal action that include fines and jail time, if convicted.
However, there are other collateral consequences of a DWI arrest, including at least one, and potentially more than one, civil action. These are separate legal actions and are initiated at the time of arrest. Civil actions have severe consequences, just like the criminal action.
Loss of Driver’s License:
There is always at least one civil action that is initiated in a DWI. This action is related to the loss of your driver’s license. You could lose your license no matter where it was issued. The length of time your license could be revoked varies based on prior record, whether or not you submitted to a test, the test score, and whether there was a child in the vehicle.
Unlike the criminal action where the State has the burden to prove a person is guilty, the loss of license occurs if you don’t object to the State’s revocation of the driver’s license. If you don’t file a challenge, this action proceeds and concludes simply through the passage of time. The window to challenge is 60 days once you receive the notice of revocation. If no challenge is submitted, the consequences of your loss of license can be serious.
Hypothetically, you could be acquitted in the criminal matter but still have a record of a loss of a driver’s license as the result of the alleged DWI. If you don’t challenge and you’re charged with a DWI in the future, the State can use the previous loss of license against you. You could face more extensive criminal penalties in future DWI cases as well as more extensive civil penalties if you don’t challenge a license revocation. Future DWI arrests could cost more in fees, and you may be required to have the Ignition Interlock Program in order to continue driving.
Assignment of Whiskey Plates:
There is a third action that could lead to social and financial costs as well as added attention. Left unchallenged, a DWI offense or driver’s license revocation could lead to you being required to have “Whiskey Plates” assigned to the vehicle if you are charged with another DWI arrest within 10 years. The plates are distinct and allow law enforcement to pull you over simply because you have them.
The fourth action can have the most visible, costly, and negative consequences if a DWI offense or driver’s license revocation is not challenged. Depending on your prior driving record or prior DWI convictions, your vehicle may be forfeited.
The consequences of a DWI are extensive and severe. If you are facing a DWI, choosing the right attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make. You need experienced legal counsel on your side that knows exactly how to challenge these charges and will fight for the best possible outcome for you.
Chris Cain is an attorney at Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd. who brings over 20 years of experience to the firm and his clients. His criminal defense practice focuses on protecting the rights of others. Prior to joining the firm, Chris Cain was a prosecutor. His extensive knowledge of how the State operates when bringing charges helps him provide the best defense for his clients.