A DWI charge is not the same as a conviction. Yet, many people who find themselves facing this type of charge treat it as such without taking the time to defend themselves against it. The consequences of even a first-time DWI charge are nothing to gloss over. They are serious and could prove detrimental to different types of career, personal and other opportunities that you may encounter in the future.

The first time you stand before a judge is not necessarily when you should consider pleading guilty or proclaiming your innocence. Though you may have the opportunity during your arraignment to accept a plea deal in exchange for a potentially lighter sentence, you must remember that a plea bargain is essentially the same as a guilty plea. Instead, you might find it more beneficial to take your case to trial to buy yourself more time to build a solid criminal law defense. In the meantime, here are some risks associated with pleading guilty to a DWI.

Lose the right to a trial

Once you accept a plea bargain or enter a guilty plea, you lose the right to a trial by your peers. By your own admission, you are corroborating the evidence against you even if it is not valid or entirely admissible. A guilty plea/plea deal also strips you of other Constitutional rights that you could potentially incorporate into your DWI defense, such as the right to cross examine witnesses, to stay silent and possibly to help you to achieve a case dismissal or a lesser charge such as reckless driving.

Gain a criminal record

A guilty plea is a conviction. If this is your first DWI charge, you could end up with a misdemeanor on your criminal record. However, if there are aggravating circumstances that increase the penalties for your DWI offense, such as excessive property damage or bodily harm or your actions lead to someone’s death, you could end up with a felony DWI conviction. Keep in mind that if it is not your first time dealing with a DWI charge, you could still end up with a felony as well.