There is no law against enjoying some drinks with friends. Choosing to celebrate an evening with a few beers or cocktails is a great way to make memories, build friendships and celebrate new beginnings. Choosing to get behind the wheel of an automobile afterword, however, will land you in jail
This was the situation in January when Ramsey County judge, G. Tony Atwal, was caught driving drunk on New Year’s Day after leaving a New Year’s Eve celebration. Judge Atwal submitted to a breath test after being pulled over by Saint Paul police and registered more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit.
Anyone can be charged with a DWI
According to the Star Tribune, a patrolling Saint Paul police officer noticed Atwal’s vehicle speeding through the streets just before 1 AM. While trying to catch up with the vehicle, the officer also saw Atwal fail to stop at a stop sign.
When the officer eventually stopped the car, he “noticed the Defendant’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy and that his speech was slightly slurred.” When Atwal failed two roadside sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test, he told the officer he was a local judge, and asked to be allowed to walk home. The officer took him into custody.
When asked, Atwal claimed to have consumed two glasses of wine and a gin and tonic before driving. Two hours later, when given a breath test, he registered 0.17 percent, just over double the legal limit.
In the wake of his arrest, Judge Atwal promptly sought legal counsel. He eventually plead guilty to two counts of driving while impaired. Additional counts of careless driving and failing to stop at a stop sign were dismissed as part of his plea bargain.
He was also sentenced to a year in the Ramsey County Correctional Facility, though 345 days of the sentence were stayed for two years’ probation; 20 days of electronic home monitoring; and chemical dependency evaluation and treatment.
Having an experienced attorney on your side when facing criminal charges is critically important. Atwal’s attorney helped him move through the legal process quickly and efficiently. This not only shielded him from a potential storm of news headlines, but also found the best settlements possible for his situation.
Criminal defense attorneys specialize in knowing every facet of the laws that pertain to your case. They know how to use the law to lessen or even eliminate charges. If you are arrested for a DWI, be sure to contact an attorney immediately. Even if the evidence against you looks bad, as it did for Atwal, there are often options specific to your situation that your legal council will know how to leverage.
A DWI can mean heavy fines, license revocation and jailtime. That doesn’t have to be your situation. Don’t sacrifice your best future and succumb to an overly harsh sentence; protect yourself and get back on track.