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  • John Kulevich

7 Types of DWI Charges | Lessons from a DWI Lawyer

Updated: Jun 13

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges carry serious legal implications. But understanding the various types of charges empowers you to better navigate your defense. 

I’m John B. Kulevich, a DWI attorney with the expertise and dedication to achieve the best possible outcome for my clients. In this article, I guide you through the different types of DWIs and their specific characteristics.

The 7 Types of DWI Charges a DWI Attorney Defends You From

  1. Standard DWI

  2. Aggravated DWI

  3. Drug-Related DWI

  4. Underage DWI (Under 21 DWI)

  5. Commercial DWI

  6. Felony DWI

  7. Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)

Standard DWI

A Standard DWI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08%. This is the most common type of DWI charge and includes several key elements:

  • Detection and Arrest: Officers use field sobriety tests and breathalyzers to determine BAC levels.

  • Legal Implications: Convictions can lead to fines, license suspension, jail time, and mandatory alcohol education programs.

  • DWI Attorney's Defense Strategies: Challenging the accuracy of BAC tests, questioning the legality of the traffic stop, and identifying procedural errors.

Aggravated DWI

An Aggravated DWI is a more severe form of DWI involving higher BAC levels or other aggravating factors. This type of charge typically applies in the following situations:

  • High BAC Levels: Drivers with BAC levels significantly above the standard limit (e.g. 0.15% or higher).

  • Additional Factors: Driving with a minor in the vehicle, excessive speeding, or causing an accident.

  • Penalties: Increased fines, longer jail sentences, and extended license suspensions.

  • DWI Attorney's Defense Approaches: Addressing the aggravating factors directly and negotiating for reduced charges or penalties.

Drug-Related DWI

Drug-Related DWI charges involve operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal substances. Key aspects include:

  • Detection: Officers may use blood tests or Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to identify drug impairment.

  • Legal Challenges: Proving impairment can be complex due to varying effects of different substances.

  • Consequences: Similar to standard DWI penalties, with potential for mandatory drug education or treatment programs.

  • DWI Lawyer's Defense Tactics: Challenging the validity of drug tests, examining the procedures followed by arresting officers, and presenting alternative explanations for observed behavior.

Underage DWI (Under 21 DWI)

Underage DWI applies to drivers under the legal drinking age, who face stricter regulations and lower BAC limits (often 0.02% or lower). Important points include:

  • Zero Tolerance Laws: Many states enforce zero tolerance policies for underage drinking and driving.

  • Penalties: Fines, community service, mandatory alcohol education, and possible license suspension.

  • DWI Attorney's Defense Considerations: Emphasizing the defendant's age and lack of prior offenses, questioning the accuracy of BAC tests, and negotiating for alternative sentencing options.

Commercial DWI

Commercial DWI charges apply to drivers of commercial vehicles, such as truck drivers or bus drivers, who have a lower BAC limit (typically 0.04%). Key elements are:

  • Regulations: Commercial drivers are held to stricter standards due to the potential for greater harm.

  • Impacts: Convictions can result in loss of commercial driving license (CDL) and significant career repercussions.

  • Penalties: Hefty fines, longer license suspensions, and potential imprisonment.

  • DWI Lawyer's Defense Strategies: Challenging the procedures followed during the stop and arrest, questioning the accuracy of testing equipment, and exploring alternative penalties to preserve the driver’s career.

Felony DWI

A Felony DWI is a serious charge that can result from multiple DWI offenses, causing injury or death, or having other aggravating circumstances. Important aspects include:

  • Criteria: Elevated to a felony due to prior DWI convictions, accidents causing serious harm, or extremely high BAC levels.

  • Consequences: Long-term prison sentences, substantial fines, and a permanent criminal record.

  • DWI Lawyer's Defense Tactics: Comprehensive review of the incident, challenging the evidence, and negotiating for reduced charges or penalties.

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) involves operating a boat or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Key points include:

  • Legal BAC Limits: Similar to road vehicles, with BAC limits typically set at 0.08%.

  • Detection: Authorities may conduct sobriety tests on the water, using breathalyzers and other methods.

  • Penalties: Fines, imprisonment, suspension of boating privileges, and mandatory education programs.

  • Boat Accident Lawyer’s Defense Approaches: Questioning the legality of the stop, challenging the accuracy of BAC tests, and presenting evidence of safe operation.

How The Law Office of John B. Kulevich Can Help

I offer comprehensive DWI defense services, specializing in all types of DWI cases. My approach includes:

  • Personalized Defense Strategies: Tailoring my defense tactics to the specific circumstances of your case.

  • Expert Representation: Leveraging extensive experience and legal knowledge to protect your rights.

  • Commitment to Excellence: Ensuring every client receives dedicated and thorough legal representation.

Choose a DWI & Boat Accident Attorney with Experience

Understanding the different types of DWIs is crucial for mounting an effective defense. If you or a loved one is facing DWI charges, contact me today for a free consultation.


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