Should My WV DUI Lawyer Negotiate a “Deal” by Opting for the Ignition Interlock Program?
In general, a person arrested for a West Virginia first offense DUI can take two different paths to resolve his or her arrest: Negotiate a WV DUI case to a favorable resolution OR go to trial to try to win the DUI WV case. For those who are eligible, the WV DUI interlock program may be the most favorable option, if the case facts and evidence have a high likelihood of conviction at trial. In short, an ignition interlock device is an electronic safety tool that prevents a vehicle from being started until and unless the driver blows into the breath alcohol collection tube and has no alcohol in his or her breath.
Under our WV alcohol laws, fighting complex DUI offenses with a high alcohol concentration should only be pursued by a criminal defense attorney with special expertise in West Virginia DUI laws. A generalist in criminal defense cannot keep up with changes in state and national case law for drunk driving cases, that can make a difference in your driving under the influence case. The recent addition to WV interlock availability is just one such recent legal update.
With a DUI specialist guiding this path, a person with a pending DUI charge can take advantage of the many nuances in WV DUI law and anticipate problems that can arise in your West Virginia impaired driving case. In initial consideration is how to keep our client’s license from being revoked. WV alcohol laws and crimes relating to motor vehicles don’t just trigger suspension or revocation of the right to drive motor vehicles in the state of West Virginia.
A criminal conviction of drunken driving or drugged driving in WV (with a high alcohol test following arrest) carries mandatory jail time. Subsequent offenses, after a first offense DUI, will have even more DUI consequences at stake, and particularly the person’s right to drive.
DUI Refusal in West Virginia Now Disqualifies a Driver From Chance of Expungement
The WV interlock program is not available to everyone with a 1st DUI. This is because any person who refuses to take the WV implied consent test of breath alcohol, blood or urine (following a WV DUI arrest) will trigger disqualification for the WV DUI deferral program. This valuable program can lead to expungement for DUI charges first DUI offense in West Virginia.
Not all states have such a favorable law, allowing the DUI arrest and conviction to be removed from State criminal records, for a DUI first offense. Georgia, for example, has no possibility for ANY DUI case to be expunged or removed from a person’s criminal history. All state DUI laws are not the same as DUI-related alcohol laws in West Virginia, in offering this one-time chance on a first offense DUI in WV.
Plus, when the correct strategy for protecting your driving privileges with West Virginia DMV is not followed, and a wrong path is taken by your criminal attorney, the person not driving is YOU, not the DUI attorney. If you MUST have a driver’s license, and avoid license revocation for an implied consent violation, put your trust in a DUI specialist for achieving the best results.
Every West Virginia DUI Arrest Triggers an Administrative License Revocation
Following any WV DUI arrest, an administrative license revocation action is immediately triggered against the arrested driver. The state of West Virginia is seeking a driver’s license revocation against you, for either blowing over the legal limit on the breath alcohol test, or for your REFUSAL to take the requested alcohol breath test when you were arrested for impaired driving.
So, in addition to the DUI criminal arrest, another part of WV DUI law starts an administrative (civil) case at the WV DMV that simply targets your right to drive under West Virginia DUI laws. This other type of DUI law is called an implied consent law.
A WV DUI Charge Creates Unique Legal Challenges for Each Client
After receipt of an administrative Order of Revocation Notice, you will have two choices on how to handle this notice. As with all legal matters for a DUI in West Virginia, deadlines for an attorney acting on your behalf exist. This situation merits calling a highly-qualified DUI specialist ASAP, to not miss being able to take advantage of the benefits of protecting your legal rights.
One, have your WV DUI Attorney file a timely written objection to the DMV revocation in West Virginia. This is done by requesting an administrative hearing in which the DUI lawyer handling your case will contest the WV DMV’s attempt at revoking your driver’s license.
Two, take advantage of the WV interlock laws and opt to install the ignition interlock device for the underlying revocation period, and do not contest the revocation by telling your DUI attorney to request an administrative license hearing. As your West Virginia DUI lawyer will explain, this option may be very appealing to a person who plans to fight his or her drunk driving charges. Once you do this, and successfully complete the DUI safety and treatment program and pay the license reinstatement fee, a DUI first offense WV case can be positioned to not impact your future.
Are DUI Classes Required in WV? How Do I Know When to Start DUI School?
For this specialized field of criminal law, go with an experienced WV lawyer who is a DUI specialist. He or she can and will guide you how to finish DMV DUI classes through this “DUI school” process without error or missing a deadline. West Virginia DUI laws have a DUI education course component (DUI Safety and Treatment Program) that is a required step of the WV license reinstatement process.
This type of DUI class is commonly called “DUI school” or “DUI classes” in other states. Your WV DUI attorney can guide you through this process.
A Review of the DUI Penalties in the Criminal Case
Because driving is a privilege and not a constitutional right, the imposition of an immediate civil loss of your WV driving privileges (if you FAIL TO APPEAL) for a first DUI in WV, while still pursuing driving under the influence criminal charges, is not double jeopardy. This issue was decided by appellate courts across the USA in the 1990s.
Get Professional Help from a DUI Specialist in West Virginia
The administrative license revocation statute under WV DUI laws is a legal proceeding that only addresses driver’s license revocation, and not the imposition of criminal punishment such as monetary fines, home incarceration, work release, or jail time. Plus, for a first offense DUI, (even if it is an aggravated DUI WV) the WV driver’s license sanctions (administrative and criminal) are less severe than for a second offense DUI in WV and other types of enhanced or repeat offender DUI charges in WV.
Handling a West Virginia DUI: The Criminal Court Process
A DUI arrest in West Virginia also starts the clock for the CRIMINAL court case against you. In about 14 to 21 days after your West Virginia DUI arrest you will receive, in the mail, your notice of the initial criminal court hearing date, and to which Magistrate in that particular West Virginia County in which your case has been assigned.
Once again, if the address on your driver’s license at the time of your WV DUI arrest was NOT up to date, get your WV DUI lawyer to notify the appropriate criminal court officials. For a DUI attorney to be able to effectively assist a person facing a DUI accusation, the criminal lawyer must be kept apprised of the client’s whereabouts.
Municipal Court Special Note: If your case is filed in a municipal city court and not the county magistrate court, an arraignment whereby you get the charge(s) read against you by the municipal court judge, and a plea of not guilty is entered, generally occurs within ten (10) to fourteen (14) days after arrest. The actual initial court hearing appearance will be two to three months following your DUI arrest date.
All arrests will have the CRIMINAL charges processed in the county of your arrest for DUI. The administrative revocation hearing will likely be in a different county, under the West Virginia method of regional DMV case hearings.
This is a criminal court first appearance, as opposed to the administrative court hearing described above, which comes much later in West Virginia. The general purpose of this initial DUI court criminal appearance is for the Magistrate judge to ensure that the citizen has received, or will order the State to provide if not yet received, all discovery evidence that the citizen is entitled to receive (e.g. police report, DUI information sheets, breath machine data, any video or audio evidence, blood results/hospital records, etc.)
This notice advises you of a future date, which is usually 45 to 60 days in the future if not longer, when you will be required to come to Court. In the smaller WV counties, this notice and initial hearing date moves a little quicker than in the larger WV counties, which move a little slower due to the volume of WV DUI cases.
Hire Your West Virginia DUI Lawyer Early – Not at the Last Minute
Long before this date however, you should have hired the best WV DUI lawyer you can find to start investigating your case, file all the necessary discovery requests with the court to protect your interests and develop a strategy to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your West Virginia DUI case.
Depending on whether your case is a DUI first offense in your lifetime, a DUI refusal, an aggravated DUI, a DUI 2nd offense, or a 3rd DUI in WV or worse, your West Virginia DUI attorney must try to develop a DUI defense to fit your case facts. Timing is critical to this being done. Do not delay in calling a West Virginia DUI attorney near me, and do it immediately after your arrest.
Be certain to look closely at the credentials of any criminal defense lawyer before you make your choice on a DUI lawyer in WV. You need a true DUI specialist like Harley Wagner to be able to expect an excellent outcome in your WV DUI case. Mr. Wagner is West Virginia’s ONLY DUI attorney who travels the entire state to represent clients who SIMPLY MUST TRY TO WIN their cases. So, why just consider lawyers near me, when a specialist is rated the best?
For FREE legal advice, and a DUI lawyer consultation with a specialist in DUI defense, call The Wagner Law Firm at 304-901-7400 to review your West Virginia DUI arrest. Speak with Harley O. Wagner, who welcomes face-to-face meetings. With a FREE lawyer consultation, how can you beat that price?