Is it Possible to Limit OWI Penalties During Sentencing?

Being arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is an expensive and time consuming event. Most people are concerned about the possible penalties that they may receive at sentencing. Therefore, I am frequently asked about ways to limit any possible probationary terms that may be ordered.

While most judges have a fairly set way of sentencing individuals, there are distinct ways to improve your odds of having a favorable sentence. These will not always be inexpensive or time friendly activities, but they will serve to show the judge you are serious about this offense.

Should I seek treatment for alcohol/drug use prior to sentencing?

The court will assume that you have a drinking/substance abuse problem if you have been arrested for OWI. This is true for some people. For others, their first OWI will be the only time they are ever in trouble with the law. However, in either situation, there is no reason to avoid addressing the issue. Yes, getting a substance abuse evaluation is not free. However, it provides you with the opportunity to be examined by a professional to make an appropriate diagnosis.

Moreover, it gives you the chance to set up additional appointments if follow-up care is needed. By obtaining a substance abuse evaluation you have set yourself up to look proactive and invested in your recovery. Judges often feel more comfortable about your chances of succeeding on probation if you have begun the recovery process yourself.

Are there other things I can do to limit my OWI penalties?

One of the biggest factors of the pre-trial process is compliance with testing on bond. The court wants you to be sober which is why they usually set up random testing for alcohol and controlled substances early on in the case. This testing can take the form of urine, breath, or blood samples. Most people will be subject to urine tests or given a portable breathalyzer machine. You MUST take this seriously. Judges reward those who test on time with negative results.

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Any late, positive or dilute tests will be viewed harshly and come with the possibility of jail. You are also likely to have a lower frequency of testing on probation if you’ve done well during your bond.

Will attending AA help my odds of a lower OWI sentence?

It depends. Did you learn anything? Did you actively participate and work the program?

Judges can see through someone who shows up to AA solely to check a box. AA can work wonders for those who invest in the program and actively work the steps. However, if you already know AA is not for you but you would like to show participation in a program, outpatient programs through hospitals or recovery centers are a fantastic alternative.

The worst thing you can do is show up to court with a full AA sign-in sheet, but you fail to know Step 1 or any other tenant of the program. Be honest with yourself and attend a program that works for you.

How do I know what is best for me?

At the end of the day, we are attorneys and counselors. We are here to listen to your story and your struggles. We can more effectively give you options and referrals if we know more about you. Your attorney will be better able to direct you towards the appropriate services if there are open lines of communication without secrets. You have one shot at sentencing. Give us the ability to put your best face forward.

Overall, you can do many things to improve your odds for a favorable sentence for your OWI charge. While these plans may not always guarantee a better outcome, they definitely will not hurt. Your attorney can only argue the facts at sentencing. Therefore, giving them the appropriate evidence of your compliance and treatment is crucial. By taking the big steps early on in the process, you can set yourself up for a more favorable outcome in the long run. Judges are willing to give you a chance if you prove that you deserve one.