Monroe DWI & DUI Lawyer
If you’ve been pulled over for DWI, it can feel like the end of the world. A DWI conviction can have serious, unfortunate consequences, including losing your driver’s license, heavy fines, and possible jail time. Felony convictions can affect your ability to get a professional license, to get a loan, and to stay in the country if you are a non-citizen. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, we know how scary arrests can be, and we’re here to help.
The Monroe DWI defense lawyer at Whiddon Criminal Defense is ready to handle all aspects of your criminal case, from getting you out on bail to building a strong defense, negotiating a favorable plea deal, or getting your case dropped entirely. We’ll fight to protect your rights and make sure that you do not become the victim of overzealous police officers and government lawyers. We’ve got the experience and the know-how to make sure you have the best defense possible under the circumstances of your case.
What is a DWI?
DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” DWI is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, an illegal substance, prescription drugs taken above the prescribed dosage, or the combination of drugs (illegal or prescription) and alcohol. While other states may use the term DUI (driving under the influence), in Louisiana, if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’re actually looking at charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). Most commonly, however, people refer to the offense as a DWI.
Driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater is automatic proof of DWI-level intoxication, although there may be grounds for a DWI charge with a lower BAC. DWI charges can be based on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (controlled substances or non-controlled substances), or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Driving with a BAC of 0.15 or 0.20 or greater can lead to more serious consequences.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DWI
In Louisiana, most first-time DWI offenders face misdemeanor charges. Second DWI convictions are also treated as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor DWI conviction can still lead to fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If your BAC is high enough, you could also have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Third, fourth, and subsequent DWI offenses can be charged as felonies. Third offense DWI carries a penalty of up to $2,000 in fines, license suspension, and up to five years in prison. Fourth offense DWI and beyond are punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and 10 to 30 years in prison, as well as other consequences. More serious charges may be possible for a first or second offense if anyone was injured or killed in an accident by an intoxicated driver.
If you are facing DWI charges in Monroe, it’s important to have the right Louisiana DWI defense lawyer on your side. With help from an experienced defense attorney at Whiddon Criminal Defense, you can minimize the charges and the potential penalties through a favorable plea, if not get the charges kicked entirely.
Fighting a DWI Charge
If you’ve been arrested and charged with DWI, that does not mean you’re guilty. The prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With help from a savvy DWI defense lawyer, you can undermine the prosecution’s case and defend against the worst consequences of a DWI conviction.
At Whiddon Criminal Defense, we’ll work with you to build the strongest defense possible against the prosecution’s charges. In many cases, we’re able to convince the government to reduce the charges or drop the case entirely. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, we may be able to rely on defenses such as:
- You were not driving the car. You must have actually been driving the vehicle in order to be convicted of DWI. If a cop finds you sleeping or simply resting in your vehicle, you have not committed a crime, and the charges should not stick.
- The police lacked probable cause. Police must have reason to believe you were doing something illegal before they pull you over, and they must have probable cause to believe a crime was committed before conducting an arrest. If you were pulled over or arrested without cause, the entire case may be thrown out.
- Errors with the breathalyzer test. Breathalyzers are notoriously inaccurate, giving false positives due to medications and other substances besides alcohol. Moreover, the devices must be calibrated regularly in order to be used accurately. If there’s a problem with the breathalyzer used in your case, then the prosecution just lost a key piece of evidence.
- Police errors and misconduct. Besides lack of probable cause, police commonly commit a number of procedural errors, either accidentally or intentionally. If the evidence in your case was mishandled, if the police did not read you your rights, if they relied on improper grounds for pulling you over or arresting you, or if they otherwise violated your constitutional rights, you may be able to get the charges dropped.
- Problematic field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests can only be ordered if the officer has a warrant or strong evidence of intoxication. On top of that, field sobriety tests are just about useless in accurately determining if someone is intoxicated. If you were inappropriately forced to do a field sobriety test, or if your case hinges too heavily on using a field sobriety test as proof, we might have grounds to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Call a Seasoned Monroe DWI/DUI Defense Lawyer After Your Louisiana DWI Arrest
If you’ve been arrested or charged with DWI or other serious offenses in northern Louisiana, you need a dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your team as soon as possible. The DWI/DUI defense team at the Monroe offices of Whiddon Criminal Defense is ready to help you fight for your rights, your freedom, and your future. Contact us for a free case evaluation.