When you get arrested for DWI you are headed for a very complicated legal process. With so much at stake, including the possibility of having your license suspended as well as a criminal conviction, it is vital that you hire an experienced DWI lawyer to fight on your behalf.

In Missouri, an arrest for DWI puts you in a position of dealing with two separate matters. On the one hand, you must deal with the Missouri Department of Revenue regarding your driver’s license. At the same time, you must defend yourself in the criminal case, for which you will be prosecuted. Although they both stem from one DWI arrest, they’re legally treated as independent matters.

An arrest for DWI can begin in several different ways. Most commonly, a police officer observes someone driving erratically and makes a stop. They might be weaving, speeding or other forms of erratic driving. Another way you can be arrested is when you encounter a sobriety checkpoint. Finally, many people are arrested for DWI when they’re involved in a traffic accident and found to be under the influence.

Once the police stop the driver, the DWI investigation begins, starting with the officer looking for signs of intoxication. They include glassy eyes, the odor of alcohol, slurred or incoherent speech, and/or diminished physical coordination.

If the officer suspects that the driver is impaired, he or she will begin the investigative phase. This includes asking the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs) such as the walk and turn test, the one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Another test that the officer might request of the driver, depending on the jurisdiction, is a breath test using a preliminary breath test (PBT) machine. In Missouri, the results of a PBT can be used in determining probable cause, but the result is generally not admissible in court.

If the officer decides there is probable cause to arrest you for DWI, you will be put in the police car and taken into custody right on the spot. Once you’re under arrest, you will be transported to a facility, most likely a jail, where you will be read the “implied consent” warning. In actuality, this is a request to provide the police with a breath, blood, or urine sample. You will be warned that if you do not comply and provide a sample, you are subject to losing your driving privileges for a year.

Typically, what happens next depends upon the results of the breath test. If you blow above .08, you will most likely be charged with DWI and given official notice that your driver’s license will be suspended. Furthermore, if you are charged with DWI and want to be released from police custody, you will be required to post bond.

No two DWI cases are alike. Therefore, no single piece of advice applies in every situation. This is why it is crucial that those arrested for DWI retain an experienced DWI attorney to launch an aggressive defense from the start.