After a Texas DWI Arrest: What You Need to Know
Every year, thousands of Texans are charged with Driving While Intoxicated. If you were arrested, you are probably unsure (and maybe a little worried) about what this will mean and what comes next. The attorneys at the Danford Law Firm have prepared this guide to help you learn the basics and give you confidence about how to move forward.
The Law & Possible Punishment
If you were arrested for DWI, and you do not have any previous DWI convictions, then you will likely be charged with DWI as a Class B Misdemeanor. This means you face up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. But don’t focus on the maximum punishment. You likely qualify for probation and your case could potentially be dismissed, reduced, or even won at trial depending on the facts. You should hire an experienced DWI defense attorney to get the best possible outcome in your case.
If the officer took a specimen of your breath or blood, and the blood alcohol content tested at or above .15, then you can be charged with DWI as a Class A Misdemeanor. Second-offense DWIs are also Class A misdemeanors. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine, but probation and all the other possibilities exist here too.
Individuals charged with DWI with a Child Passenger or DWI 3rd Or More face felony charges. DWI with a Child Passenger is a State Jail Felony, punishable by up to 2 years in state jail and a $10,000 fine. DWI 3rd Or More is typically charged as a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. These are serious charges, but the situation is far from hopeless. If you find yourself charged with a felony DWI, you should contact an attorney as quickly as you can.
Your Driver’s License
The officer may have taken your driver’s license, but you should have received a temporary driving permit. The permit states that you only have 15 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. If you miss the 15-day deadline, your license will be automatically suspended 40 days after your arrest. You should quickly hire an attorney to request and represent you at this hearing. For more information, please review our post about driver’s license suspensions after DWI arrests, which explains everything in detail.
Some people choose to allow the officer to take a sample of their blood. In this case, your license should not be confiscated. However, if the blood tests above the limit (.08), then you may later receive a letter from DPS informing you that the agency plans to suspend your license based on that result. Quickly contact an attorney if you receive such a letter.
The Criminal Case
After an individual is arrested for DWI, the officer prepares a report, and submits his report and any other evidence (pictures, video, etc.) to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutors represent the state of Texas and they determine whether to formally file the charge. If you are charged with DWI, then you will get a court date. You should receive notice of the court date by mail. If you receive a notice and have not yet contacted an attorney, this is the time to do it.
One of the very first things your attorney will do is request all the evidence in your case. An example of important evidence in a DWI case includes the officer’s dash and body cam videos. These videos are important for multiple reasons. They will show how you were driving and why you were pulled over. If the traffic stop was illegal, for example, your attorney may be able to get the case dismissed. If you completed Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, these should also be on video, allowing your attorney to see how you did and whether the officer performed the tests correctly. An experienced DWI Defense Attorney will turn over every stone and analyze your case step-by-step.
You should expect to have several court dates. This is simply how the justice system works. People are often nervous about going to court, but it is very rare that you will need to do or say anything. Your attorney will do the talking. Although some court dates may seem unnecessary (because nothing really happens), other court dates will be very important. For example, your attorney may need to advise the judge about missing evidence. Your attorney may also file certain motions that need to be argued. If nothing else, court dates give your attorney an opportunity to speak with the prosecutors about the case and try to negotiate a possible resolution. If your case cannot be resolved in an acceptable manner, you and your attorney can proceed to trial.
Throughout this process, you will likely have a lot more questions. Choose an attorney who not only has the answers, but also takes the time to explain them to you. And remember, don’t lose hope. There are many different ways that your case may turn out, and plenty of them are good.
The Danford Law Firm represents clients charged with DWI and other criminal offenses in Kerrville, Boerne, Fredericksburg and throughout the Texas Hill Country, as well as in San Angelo. Our firm has successfully handled thousands of cases, represented hundreds of clients at trial, and won numerous cases on appeal. If you were arrested and would like to speak with an experienced attorney about your case, contact us today.