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What is bail set at for a DWAI?
If you have a court case pending, your freedom is subject to your good behavior. Whenever a defendant comes before a criminal court, the judge needs to decide whether or not that defendant presents a flight risk, or a danger to society. Depending on the judge's assessment of the defendant, the Court may set bail, or release the defendant on their own recognizance, or release defendant to an organization like pretrial services. If you are in the middle of a court case, and the judge has released you under any one of those conditions, the terms of your release can be changed if you get into more trouble.
The most common reason for the terms of release to be changed is that the defendant was rearrested while they were free. The article about Dr. Lewek in this morning's Democrat & Chronicle is a perfect example. Dr, Lewek is a psychiatrist who posted a very large bail in county court after a body was reportedly found in his backyard. The doctor was free as his criminal case progressed, but over the weekend he was arrested for DWAI. DWAI is a traffic violation. It is not a criminal charge. The fine for most people who are convicted of DWAI for the first time is just $300. In this case, however, the local court justice imposed bail of $1000, and the doctor was sent back to county jail. Why?
Probably because the local justice, having been told that Dr. Lewek had previously driven his car into a river when free on bail, thought that he might not return safely to court if he was released on his own recognizance.
When our clients get into trouble during their criminal cases, I would estimate that 90% of the problems have something to do with alcohol. My clients sign a retainer agreement in which they agree to abstain from consuming alcohol until their case is completed. I know I can't stop anybody from drinking, but I hope to reduce the possibility that my clients are going to get into more trouble while I'm taking care of one of their criminal matters.
Although it is an extreme example, the case of Dr. Lewek demonstrates how even a traffic violation can land a person back in county jail. The lesson to be learned here is that while you have a criminal matter pending, you must be on "better than your best" behavior. You will be held to a higher standard of conduct, and you must adhere to that higher standard. Your freedom depends on it.
If you are facing a DWI or DWAI charge, contact The Militello Law Firm. We can help. Our phone number is (585) 485-0025.