So you got a Dwi Here’s what you need to do

Although I am not a lawyer (you should get all your legal advice from an actual attorney) I work for a service of a legal nature. Here is a bit of information that I have compiled about how to survive a DWI, DUI, or Driving While Intoxicated charge. Moreover, each state has its own laws concerning DUI’s. You may want to contact an attorney in your state to see how those laws affect your claim.

The basics:


From what I can tell, and by skimming information from DUI/DWI attorneys, in most first offenses, with no complications, you may be able to survive without one. (THIS IS MY OPINION, always get legal advice from an attorney.) If you truly want an attorney and can afford it, feel free. They may be an invaluable resource for minimizing your hassles. They get paid to defend people from DUIs, after all.

For complicated cases, (e.g., minors in the vehicle, additional drugs found, higher blood alcohol contents, property damage, injury victims), it is my opinion that you are much better off with an attorney. The stakes have been raised, do you really trust your own legal competence when your life and livelyhood are at stake?


Immediately after being released by the authorities, you or your attorney must contact the DMV within a few days of the arrest. You have two cases against you: Criminal proceedings and DMV proceedings.

If you do not file with the DMV, or lose a DMV DUI claim, you face automatic suspension of your license for a time period specific to that state. (See below.) At a DMV hearing, you will have to try to prove your case. Recent statistics from the DMV (2001) demonstrate that 17% of everyone suspended for DUI kept their driver’s license simply by requesting a hearing.

The FIVE core issues in a DUI case (with both a criminal hearing and a DMV hearing)

1. Did the Police Officer have a reason to pull you over?
2. Did you take a Field Sobriety Test?
3. Were you lawfully placed under arrest?
4. Did you refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
5. Did the officer inform you of the possible penalties for refusing a Field Sobriety Test?


That’s up to you. But keep in mind a few things:
1. Police officers first perform a general traffic stop.
2. Police officers will ask for field sobriety tests with probable cause. (smells of alcohol, swerving, signs of inebriation)
3. You can refuse the sobriety tests, but that may not assist your case.
4. Police officers write down evidence as a record.

If it is truly important to keep an alcohol-related charge off your driving and criminal record, you may want to fight the charge, it’s your choice. The best attorneys, however, are often expensive.


Your insurance company may decide that you are a high-risk driver and increase your insurance premium. If that happens, you must apply for the SR-22 insurance form. This document proves that you have insurance, and is written from the insurance company to the DMV. Individual insurance companies and states have their own regulations regarding the SR-22, be sure to ask.


Impounding of a vehicle differs from state to state. Most of the time you only have a few weeks to challenge the impound.


Here is a list of states and their basic DUI information.

State – Blood Alcohol Content – Days License Suspended for 1st Offense

AL 0.08 90 days
AK 0.08 90 days
AZ 0.08 90 days
AR 0.08 120 days
CA 0.08 4 months
CO 0.10 3 months
CT 0.08 90 days
DE 0.10 3 months
DC 0.08 2-90 days
FL 0.08 6 months
GA 0.08 1 year yes
HI 0.08 3 months
ID 0.08 90 days
IL 0.08 3 months
IN 0.08 180 days
IA 0.08 180 days
KS 0.08 30 days
KY 0.08 – –
LA 0.08 90 days
ME 0.08 90 days
MD 0.08 45 days
MA 0.08 90 days
MI 0.08 4 – –
MN 0.10 90 days
MS 0.08 90 days
MO 0.08 30 days
MT 0.08 – –
NE 0.08 90 days
NV 0.08 90 days
NH 0.08 6 months
NJ 0.08 – –
NM 0.08 90 days
NY 0.08 (Varies)
NC 0.08 30 days
ND 0.08 91 days
OH 0.08 90 days
OK 0.08 180 days
OR 0.08 90 days
PA 0.08 – –
RI 0.08 – –
SC 0.08 – –
SD 0.08 – –
TN 0.08 – –
TX 0.08 60 days
UT 0.08 90 days
VT 0.08 90 days
VA 0.08 7 days no
WA 0.08 90 days
WV 0.08 6 months
WI 0.08 6 months
WY 0.08 90 days

(Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,