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What to expect if you've been accused of DWI

Being arrested and accused of driving while intoxicated can be a very frightening experience, especially if you have never been arrested for a crime before. This article will briefly discuss each phase of the criminal process as it relates to a DWI arrest.

-- The traffic stop: When a New York driver is pulled over by an officer, it could lead to a DWI arrest if the officer becomes suspicious about the driver after viewing his or her behavior and eyes. Here, the officer may choose to administer a Field Sobriety Test and a blood alcohol test via Breathalyzer. If, after administering these tests, the officer believes the driver is too drunk to drive, then the officer will make the arrest.

-- The booking: The allegedly inebriated driver will next be transported to the police station, usually in the back of a locked police vehicle and handcuffs after being read his or her rights. Next, the driver will be booked into the "drunk tank," which involves being searched and surrendering personal belongings until release. Police will also fingerprint the driver and ask a series of questions regarding the arrest. After it is determined the driver is no longer intoxicated, he or she will be released.

-- The arraignment hearing: Following the arrest experience, drivers will receive their arraignment date, when they will be required to appear in court for a formal reading of their charges. Here the driver can plead guilty or not guilty. By this time, most drivers will have contracted the services of a criminal defense attorney who can advise them on the best strategy to employ when making their plea based on the facts of their case.

-- Posting bail: At the conclusion of the arraignment hearing, the judge will inform the driver how much bail must be paid. This is usually around $500 to $1,000. The driver will also be informed of his or her next court date.

Following the above steps, you and your attorney must litigate the rest of your DWI case. This may involve a DWI plea bargain deal where you plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange for a reduction in punishments. Alternatively, you and your attorney might try to cast doubt on the prosecution's version of the facts in such a way as to get your charges dropped, dismissed or try to receive a verdict of not guilty.

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