An “I Did Not Know I Was Drunk” Defense Never Works For A DWI

It's likely that no one sets out on their day with the intent of driving drunk, but sadly, it happens. Given that this violation is rarely intentional when a person is pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and charged with a crime, a common defense is to say they did not know. A person may not genuinely know that their alcohol limit exceeds the state guidelines, but this is not a defense that will be successful. Learn why pleading a case this way never works.

State's Reaction

You should not expect the state to have any compassion for you if this is your defense. The state will argue that in the same way that you made the personal choice to consume alcohol, it is also your choice to know when you have reached your limit and when to stop. It is the right of every person to know when they have reached their limit and when to seek alternative transportation. When you consider all the dangers associated with driving while drunk, it should not come as a surprise.

Possible Penalties

The state will reject this defense, but they may even see it as a lack of accountability, which may make matters worse. Things could be especially bad if there are any injuries or property damages. In addition to fines, you could be required to spend some time in jail if the judge does not believe you are taking the matter seriously. With a better defense, you may still pay fines, but you may be able to complete a treatment or community service program in place of jail time. 

Appropriate Defenses

Fortunately, there are valid defenses for a DWI charge, including incorrectly calibrated testing equipment. Sometimes, a driver may not know that they have exceeded the state's alcohol limit, because they, in fact, have not. When you can prove that the testing equipment was not calibrated correctly or was malfunctioning otherwise, you may be able to have the charges dropped. However, keep in mind that this step requires knowledge of the testing equipment and the law, so you will probably want to speak with an attorney.  

Again, do not face your charge with a weak defense, as it can possibly make your penalty worse. Be sure to speak with an attorney who can review the specifics of your case and help you select the best option for your situation.

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