I was arrested for DWI. What happens next?
Please remember that you have only FIFTEEN DAYS from the date of arrest to request a hearing on the potential suspension of your driver’s license. If you do not request a hearing your license will be automatically suspended 40-days from the date of the arrest.
In a typical case, the arresting police agency will send your arrest report to the District Attorney’s Office (“DA”). The DA will then file the formal charge against you in one our six County Courts at Law and you will receive a notice to appear. Generally, there is a four to six week time lapse between the time of your arrest and your first court appearance. The period between the arrest and the filing may be much longer in blood draw cases where lab results are pending.
How long will it take to resolve the charge against me?
The length of time it takes to resolve a DWI charge will vary. Each case is as unique as a snowflake based on the underlying facts as well as your goals and the prosecutor’s stance on your particular case. Cases can be resolved as quickly as three months or as long as a year.
I failed or refused to submit to a breath or blood test. Is my driver’s license automatically suspended?
No. If you request hearing through the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process within fifteen days of your arrest, your license will remain valid until such time as a hearing takes place. We will personally handle all aspects of the ALR process on your behalf. At the hearing the State must prove certain facts. If they fail to do so, your license will not be suspended.
WHY REQUEST AN ALR HEARING?
The ALR hearing will likely be the only opportunity you have to question the police officer that arrested you under oath prior to trial. If a hearing is set our attorneys will compel the State’s lawyers to turn over all the evidence they intend to use against you at the hearing. This will include all police reports and frequently breath or blood test results. Also, unless strategy suggests otherwise, our attorneys will require the presence of the arresting officer at your hearing. The ALR hearing is a tremendous opportunity to test the strength of the State’s case against you and to look for weaknesses in their case. At the ALR hearing we will be looking for ways to challenge all aspects of the state’s case in an effort to maintain your right to drive. By way of example only:
- Did the police stop your vehicle in violation of the law?
- Did the police properly perform the HGN test according to their training?
- Did the police properly administer the other Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in accordance with their training and the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration?
- Do the recorded police observations concerning alleged intoxication rise to the level of probable cause?
- Was there a valid refusal of a breath or blood test?
- Did the police comply with the observation period prior to requesting a breath test?
- Was discovery provided in a timely manner by the State’s lawyers?
- In blood test cases, is there proof that shows that the blood test was taken in a sanitary place, and by a qualified person?
- In a Chapter 524 case, is there admissible, sufficient proof of operation?
- Did the police provide any erroneous or extra statutory advice concerning the consequences of refusing or submitting to a breath test.
If you prevail at the ALR hearing the civil case is dismissed and you WILL RETAIN YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE.
What happens if my license is suspended?
If your license is suspended you will likely be able to petition the court for an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL). An ODL is a restricted driver’s license that will allow you to drive up to twelve hours a day.
Why do I need an attorney who focuses his practice on DWI defense?
Defending DWI cases properly requires intricate knowledge of the applicable law; the science involved in breath, and the procedure used by the police to obtain and evaluate evidence in a DWI case. Most attorneys, even those who practice criminal law, do not focus on DWI defense. An experienced DWI attorney may see defenses that may be overlooked by some other attorney.
In selecting a DWI attorney, just a few questions to consider are:
- Does the attorney have experience and success trying DWI cases?
- Can the attorney explain in clear terms the basic operation of the breath testing device known as the Intoxilyzer 5000?
- Does the attorney remain current on DWI focused continuing legal education?
- What specific strategy does the attorney plan to advance in your ALR hearing?
- Does the attorney try blood draw cases to a jury?
I refused to submit to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, am I in trouble?
No. You have a lawful right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety test, including the One Leg Stand, the Walk and Turn, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, and the Preliminary Breath Test.
You may also refuse to submit to the Breath Test, however your refusal may trigger certain consequences for your driver’s license.
I am guilty, do I still need a lawyer?
The short answer is yes. Even a first offense DWI carries a potential punishment range of up to one hundred eighty days in the County Jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Even if you are sure that you are factually “guilty” you should still seriously consider an experienced DWI lawyer who knows the law, the science, and the ins and outs of the court system.
First and foremost, we will always force the State’s Attorney’s to turn over ALL of the evidence to me. The evidence should include, at a minimum, all of the police generated documents, the DVD or video of both the roadside and Intoxilyzer room, and witness statements, the Intoxilyzer breath testing slip, and a lab report in blood test cases.
Only when all of the evidence is available can you make intelligent decision about how to proceed. Even if you feel that you were intoxicated, and experienced DWI attorney should be looking at issues such as:
- How do you look on video?
- Was the breath or blood evidence obtained lawfully?
- Was the breath or blood evidence obtained in such a way that its analytical reliability or validity may be compromised?
- Was the stop of your car by police lawful?
- Did the police officer administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests correctly?
- Does the police report contain internal contradictions, or is it contradicted by the video?
- Will the State be able to locate and secure the attendance of the witnesses at trial?
So, even if you think you are guilty, do yourself a favor and hire an experienced DWI attorney who can analyze your case for weaknesses that may benefit you.
Am I able to obtain a Deferred Adjudication for a Driving While Intoxicated Charge?
Not under the current state of the law. However legislation was introduced recently introduced which would authorize people charged with a first driving while intoxicated case in Texas to receive deferred adjudication. The legislation failed, however it may be raised again at a future date in the Legislature. In a deferred adjudication situation, no judicial finding of guilt is made and and the end of the deferral period the case is dismissed.
When would I need SR-22 Insurance?
Ordinarily, SR-22 insurance will be required after a DWI conviction or when a person needs an occupational driver’s license due to a driver’s license suspension. Frequently the suspension is the result of a DWI conviction or an ALR suspension.
You may obtain SR-22 insurance by contacting your own insurance company or by contacting another agency. Our office regularly recommends two separate agencies that have provided excellent service to our clients.