DUI or OWI Offense: What You Should Know
For anyone, being charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a very serious matter that can have a dramatic impact on your life. From the moment you are pulled over by the police, your actions and the decisions you make will play a large role in determining how you are treated by the legal system. If you have been charged in Wisconsin, a Waukesha DUI attorney can help you to navigate the legal system, ensure you are treated fairly and guide you to the most positive outcome for your circumstances.
From the moment you are pulled over by a police officer, it is important to cooperate but also to be aware of your legal rights. As in any traffic stop, you should gather your license, registration and insurance information. It is a legal requirement to provide these to the officer who has stopped you. Do not be belligerent with the officer or argue. Do not exit the vehicle unless you are instructed to do so by the officer. Be respectful and comply with any commands that are issued to you that you believe are legal. Do not take any actions or say anything that might cause the officer to arrest you. If you have been drinking, it is a good idea to roll down the windows of your car, to dissipate any odors that might cause suspicion. You will need to do this anyway in order to provide your documentation, so roll down your windows as soon as you are stopped. If possible, avoid eye contact with the officer. Remember that anything about you they observe, such as red eyes, alcohol on your breath or statements that you make may constitute a basis for arresting you.
If the officer begins to question you, it is a good idea to remember the legal phrase “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Put simply, the less that you say to the office, the better. Do not volunteer any information to the officer. Answer direct questions with a simple “Yes” or “No.” The more information that you volunteer to the police, the more likely it is that they will find something that will justify your arrest. Eventually, you have a story to tell in your own defense. However, the time to tell that story is not during the traffic stop. It is best to wait until you have arranged for legal counsel who can assist you in responding to any requests for information from the legal authorities. Simply tell the officer that you would prefer to answer any questions with your attorney present.
Sometimes, people who have been pulled over the belief that they can somehow “beat” a field sobriety test. If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol that you have consumed, it is best to decline any tests that the officer requests that you perform. While it is possible that this may result in you being arrested and taken to jail, it will reduce the amount of evidence available to prosecutors if charges are later brought against you. The more evidence that you provide to the authorities, the more opportunity you give them to bring charges against you. As with questioning, state that you wish to consult with your attorney before consenting to any tests.
At the first opportunity, write down everything that you can remember about the incident. For instance, record the location you were stopped, the date, time of day and any other relevant information, such as the weather. Make sure to record the date you are writing these things down. To the best of your ability, enter the details of your conversation with the officer. State the reason that the officer gave you for pulling you over. Did you do anything that might have attracted the attention of the officer, such as failing to signal or driving erratically? What questions did the officer ask you? How did you respond? Did you provide the officer with any information about where you were before the traffic stop? Did you indicate the last time you had eaten? If you did agree to perform field sobriety tests, what specific tests were performed? Do not rely on your memory. If you were given a summons or other information by the police, store that as well.
Next, make a note of any witnesses who might be useful in the event that you are charged. Was anyone traveling with you in your vehicle? If you have the opportunity to speak with any passengers, gather their version of the events leading up to the traffic stop and write down what they tell you. Were you in the presence of others at the last location before you were pulled over by the officer? Did they observe anything about you that might be helpful in your defense? Keep records of the statements that they make. Again, do not rely on memory. Make a list of any relevant witnesses and their contact information. Put everything in writing and store these documents in a safe place where they can be retrieved and assist your attorney in preparing your defense. The more information your attorney has to defend you, the better.
Most importantly, arrange for a competent Waukesha DUI attorney at your first opportunity. In the American legal system, anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a vigorous defense. You are innocent until proven guilty under the law, and a good attorney will help you to assert your rights in court. In the event of a conviction, a good attorney can guide you to an outcome that will minimize as much as possible the impact on your life and assist you in moving towards a brighter future.
If you have been charged with a DUI, OWI or similar offense under Wisconsin law, it is vital that you find quality legal counsel as soon as possible. At Huppertz and Powers, S. C., we know that the charges you face are serious and have the potential to dramatically affect your life. We have years of experience representing the residents of Waukesha and are committed to providing you with the guidance and expertise to ensure the best possible outcome of your case. We will vigorously defend your rights throughout the legal process. We have a client-centered approach that puts you first. Also, unlike many law firms that charge on an hourly basis, we offer a flat fee for your defense. This gives you a degree of certainty during an anxious and uncertain time in your life. Contact us today.