If the police arrest you on a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI), it is essential to think long-term.

Let’s say this is your first-ever arrest for drunk driving; if you plead guilty or fail to contest the charge, the judge must send you to jail for at least three days, but they could do so for as many as 180 days. They can also fine you up to $2,000 and suspend your license for a year.

Accepting this first DWI without a fight guarantees you worse to come if the police ever charge you with drunk driving again.

Repeat DWI offenses will carry harsher penalties

A second DWI conviction puts you at risk of up to one year in jail, up to $8,500 in fines and up to two years’ loss of your license.

A third DWI conviction could result in as much as 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine and two years without a license.

If you successfully defeat this first charge, it reduces the severity of any future charges you might face – the second offense would become a first offense, and a third offense would become a second offense.

Charges can mount up in other ways too

Prosecutors and judges will also examine your record if you face charges for non-related crimes. Prosecutors want convictions, so they are not averse to painting people in the worst possible light. 

If you have a clean record, it will be tougher for them to convince a judge that you are a threat to society than if you have previous convictions, such as a first-time DWI.

If you face a DWI charge, seek legal help to fight it and protect your future.