The Fayetteville DWI Court Process
You, a family member, or a friend may have been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI). Now what? Now you face a criminal court process, as well as an administrative process. Without a lawyer, you will have to figure out both the Fayetteville court system and the State of Arkansas driver’s licensing office on your own. It’ll take up your time and energy, and in the end, you probably won’t beat the charges yourself.
Instead of representing yourself, hire a lawyer who’s tackled (and won) DWI cases before. Our Arkansas DWI/DUI lawyers at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP are ready to help. We’ll handle the DWI court process on your behalf. Give us a call at (479) 316-3760 to set up your consultation.
The Beginning: Getting Arrested for a DWI
The DWI court process begins when an officer arrests you. This can be frustrating and embarrassing. One minute you’re focused on the road, and the next, you see flashing lights behind you. During the traffic stop, the officer probably asks you some routine questions while checking your license, vehicle registration, and possible warrants.
If the officer sees, smells, or hears something that makes them suspicious, they’ll take things a step further. They might ask you to get out of the car and perform one or more Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. You have the right to say no, but that probably won’t stop the officer from arresting you.
The officer might ask you to blow into a roadside breath test, better known as a breathalyzer. These are notoriously unreliable, which is why prosecutors can’t use the results in court. But the results can be enough for the officer to arrest you for a DWI.
If the officer believes they have enough clues to indicate you’ve been drinking or have used illegal drugs, they’ll arrest you. You’ll be put in handcuffs, read your rights, placed in a police cruiser, and driven to jail.
Once you arrive at the jail, you’ll be booked and asked to submit to an official breath test. You’ll probably have to take two breath tests. You can also ask for an independent blood or breath test to be performed at a medical facility at your expense.
The breath or blood test results are evidence. The prosecutor would use these in court to prove you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. But just because these tests feel more official doesn’t mean they’re accurate. It’s crucial to hire a DWI defense attorney to scrutinize the machines, the testing procedures, and the people conducting the tests.
Getting Out of Jail
For most DWI arrests, you can get out of jail within a day or even a few hours. You might want to get out right away. But waiting for at least eight hours to post bail can be helpful.
DWI convictions in Fayetteville almost always result in some jail time. There’s a one-day minimum sentence. (It’s actually eight hours for a DWI case.) If you spend enough time in jail right after your arrest, you get credit for it. But if you spend fewer than eight hours in jail and are convicted, you’ll have to go back.
Hire a DWI Defense Lawyer
Now you’re out of jail, and there are a few steps to take. On the civil side of a DWI charge, you have to fight the automatic driver’s license suspension. You only have seven days to request a hearing. Do that immediately or call a lawyer who will make that happen. One of our criminal defense attorneys will represent you in that hearing, working to obtain the best possible outcome for you, including getting a temporary license to be able to drive to work or school.
We highly recommend calling The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP. One of our criminal defense lawyers can get started right away. We know how important it is to fight these charges and avoid a DWI conviction.
After you get out of jail, you’ll have or receive a letter that tells you the date and time of your arraignment. This is your first court appearance. Hopefully, you have legal representation by now. But even if you don’t, you should attend, say very little, and plead not guilty. When you have a DWI defense lawyer, they’ll handle the arraignment for you.
Investigating and Fighting the Charges
After you (or your lawyer) enter the not guilty plea, there’s a lot to do. Your lawyer will gather and review the evidence. Depending on your case’s complexity, your lawyer will use the discovery process to get information from the police department, such as the police vehicle’s dash camera footage and maintenance records for the breath test machine.
We’ll go over every moment of your DWI stop, arrest, and testing with you. We want to know everything an officer did or said. The officer might have done something wrong, which could help your defense. Maybe the officer didn’t administer and grade the field sobriety tests correctly (which is common). Perhaps they didn’t read your Miranda rights properly.
Our goal is to find a good reason to get your case dismissed. That’s the best possible outcome. If that’s not possible, we build the strongest defense available under the circumstances. In truth, we can’t always avoid DWI convictions. But our experienced lawyers can often negotiate less jail time, lower fines, and lessen the other consequences of a conviction.
An Attorney Eases the Burden of the Court Process
Getting charged with a DWI/DUI is stressful. There’s no avoiding that. But an attorney experienced in fighting these charges can ease your stress considerably. When you have a lawyer, you can minimize how often you go to court. You might only need to attend a hearing once. You also have a much better chance of avoiding a conviction or minimizing what you suffer if convicted.