You are driving down the highway after a party at your friend’s house. Just as you are about to take a turn, you see the all familiar blue lights flashing behind you. You have no option but to pull over. The officer comes over and asks for your registration and license. In the process, they smell alcohol on your breath. Before you realize it, you are under arrest for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Being arrested in Texas for a DWI can be a challenging experience. A DWI conviction in Texas can have multiple negative consequences. The conviction can see you have a criminal record that will impact you for life. You can also lose your driving license, pay huge fines or end up in jail. Knowing what to do if you are arrested for DWI can make the experience less traumatizing. Below is a guide on what you should do when you are arrested for DWI.
Do Not Enter AaPlea Without the Presence of Your Lawyer
Remember, you should not admit any guilt when you are arrested for DWI. At times though, your lawyer might advise you to confess to the charge. This happens when the prosecution agrees to offer you a reduced sentence when you admit you are guilty. If your lawyer does not advise you to admit guilt, maintain you are innocent. The confession might also help you receive a plea bargain or a lighter sentence. A plea bargain enables you to avoid a lengthy trial. Remember, you have to agree to the conditions of the plea bargain. Do not agree to any plea bargain on your own.
Do not Divulge the Details of Your Case to Anybody
Do not share details of your case with anybody. Do not reference your case either on social media. You might mention something damaging If you discuss your case with a person or on social media. The prosecution can use your words to win the case against you. For your good, do not discuss any details of the case with any person.
Show Respect To The Arresting Officer
It's possible to spend the night in jail if you are arrested for DWI. You should remain calm during the arrest and on the trip to the department. Even if you believe the arrest is unfair, or the cop is acting rudely during the arrest, do not put up a fight. Do not insult the cop or cause disturbance of any kind. Remember, the cop can use anything you say or do against you in court.
The best way to handle yourself during and after the arrest is to evoke your 5th amendment right to remain silent. Do not make the mistake of offering any information to the arresting officer. The more you say, the more you would be incriminating yourself. If the police officer puts you under a lot of pressure to speak after the arrest, politely inform them you are invoking your right to remain silent, and you will only speak in the presence of your lawyer.
Post Bail After an Arrest for DWI in Texas
If you do not want to spend several nights in jail, you should post bail after being arrested for DWI. A bail is a certain amount of money you pay so that you can be released from police custody. When you post bail, you can come up with a defense strategy with the help of your DWI defense lawyer. Bail also allows you to request an ALR hearing. If you don’t post bail, you will remain in police custody until your trial. Worse still, the state might suspend your driving license for a long time.
The bail amount you pay for a DWI in Texas is not fixed. Each case is different. It depends on the circumstances of your case and the judge’s discretion. If you are a first-time DWI offender, the court usually sets the bail amount at $500 or thereabout. However, some factors affect the amount of bail you will have to post for a DWI offense.
These factors include:
- If you have another DWI conviction in your driving record
- If you refused to take a chemical test to ascertain your BAC level
- If you have a criminal record, your bail is likely to be high.
- If you committed an offense like manslaughter or assault while DWI
- If you pose any danger to public safety. If the court deems you are a high-risk individual, you will be ordered to post a higher amount of bail.
- If you have any restraining orders against you
- The court in which you have been arraigned
Once you post bail, you must comply with the conditions set by the court. The court will refund the money you used to post bail once the case is over and you have complied with the set conditions. If you fail to attend a court hearing or violate any other bail condition, the court might forfeit to refund your bail bond cash.
Ways Through Which You Can Post Bail in Texas
In Texas, you can post bail in three main ways, including:
- Cash bail: You can post bail by paying cash or offering a check to the court.
- Bail bond: If you don’t have cash on you, you can use the services of a bail bondsman. You can use bail bond agencies to post bail on your behalf. The bail bondsman usually charges a fee for offering this service.
- Property bond: You can allow the court to put a lien on your property like your house or vehicle. Once the court places the lien on your property, you are released from custody.
The court might set the bail at a high amount that might force you to use a bail bondsman’s services. Remember, most bail bond agencies charge a fee of between 10% to 20% of the bond amount. If you comply with all the bond requirements, the bondsman will receive their cash back once the case is over. But you have to pay the commission.
In case you violate any of the bail conditions and the court forfeits the bond money, the bondsman will take legal actions against you to recover their cash. At times, the court might deny you bail. At other times, the court might release you without posting any bail.
It’s possible to reduce your bail amount during the bail hearing. For this to happen, you need to engage the services of an experienced DWI defense lawyer. The lawyer will negotiate with the court for a reduced bail amount on your behalf. Your lawyer will have to explain why the court should reduce your bail amount.
Administrative License Revocation Hearing Process
Once you are arrested for DWI in Texas, the arresting officer confiscates your driving license. When this happens, you only have fifteen days to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing. It’s therefore critical to request for the hearing before the expiration of this period. Failure to do so can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license for a long time.
When you request for the ALR hearing, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will designate a Judge who will hear your case. At the hearing, the Judge will determine if there was enough probable cause to arrest you for DWI. The court will suspend your driver's license if the Judge finds enough probable cause for your arrest.
It’s critical to request the ALR hearing since it gives you a chance to question the arresting officer. However, you should also have a DWI attorney present at the hearing. The lawyer is more experienced and will know the right questions to ask. In most cases, you will lose at the ALR hearing, but that is alright. You will have gained valuable information which your lawyer will use to defend you later on during the trial period.
It's critical to ask for the ALR hearing since the state will have to prove why your license should be suspended. The State mainly uses your arresting officer’s affidavit. The affidavit attests to the arrest per the officer’s memory. Once you serve the arresting officer with a subpoena, they must attend the hearing. The arresting officer’s attendance is critical as your DWI lawyer will gather more information about the arrest. For the state to suspend your license, they must prove that you either refused to submit to a test or that your BAC level was above 0.08.
The state can suspend your driving license if you refuse to submit to a chemical or breath test. However, after your arrest, the State has to prove you refused to take the test. It's upon the state to prove that the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to warrant a stop of your car. If the state can’t prove there was reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, the court will exclude any evidence from evidence. That means the court will exclude your refusal to take the test from evidence. That’s why it's crucial to request the ALR hearing after your DWI arrest.
Hire A DWI Lawyer
Once you face arrest, it’s prudent to hire an experienced DWI lawyer. The legal proceedings after being arrested for a DWI in Texas are complicated and daunting. If you do not have the proper legal representation, the arrest can hurt your career, taint your criminal record, and negatively affect your life. The arrest can leave you vulnerable. For these reasons, you need to hire an experienced DWI lawyer who is well versed with the Texas criminal justice system.
It's critical to choose your attorney wisely. Although numerous DWI attorneys operate in Texas, only a handful have the experience in contesting and winning DWI charges.
Even if you missed the deadline to request an ALR hearing, all is not lost. You still have a chance to defend yourself against the charges by hiring a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can request the state to provide you with one. It’s your right to have legal representation. Once you get a lawyer, you can start to go through the discovery process.
It’s during the discovery process where your lawyer reviews your file. Your file will contain the police report, your arrest record, and a video of the arrest. The video will show what led to your arrest. It’s critical to hire a lawyer well before the trial. When you hire a lawyer early on, they will have enough time to review the video showing the arrest. When your lawyers review the tape, they will discuss it with you and develop the best cause of action.
Have A Candid Discussion With Your Lawyer About The Direction Of The Case
Once your lawyer has reviewed your file, it’s crucial to have a candid discussion with them about the direction of your DWI case. It’s essential to find out what the report said and whether it was accurate. If you find out some inconsistencies, point them out to your lawyer. It’s also important to discuss the video. What’s your appearance on the video, does the video show you obeying the officer’s commands or doing otherwise? Did you slur or stammer during the arrest? These are the factors that will determine the direction of your case. If you look composed in the video, then you can decide to go to trial.
Before you go on trial, ask the defense attorney about their success rate at trials. If your attorney is not experienced, you might lose the case even though the tape shows you were composed during the arrest. Your defense team needs to be well prepared since the prosecution can present a strong case. But if you appear drunk on the tape, it is better to enter a plea bargain with the state.
After your arrest, your memory might fade. It's critical to relate to your attorney all the events preceding the arrest as soon as possible. Every detail about what happened before, during, and after the arrest might help you win the case.
Every detail is critical in a DWI. It could mean the difference between winning and losing the case. To help your attorney defend you against the charges, give them every detail about your current living circumstances.
You can tell your lawyer about:
- Any medical conditions, medication, recent injuries, or illness that might affect your physical well being
- Personal circumstances like the death of a close relative or a divorce
- Any stress you might be experiencing in your workplace, or as a result of a job loss, or an injury is sustained while working.
- The details of your day and night activity before the DWI arrest
You should not share these details with anyone else apart from your attorney. Everything you say to your lawyer is protected under the client-attorney privilege.
It's understandable if you’re anxious about the outcome of the arrest and the case. Although it's difficult to do so, it’s best to let your attorney handle the case. It doesn’t mean, though, you should not follow up with your lawyer to know your case’s progress. It's essential to check with your attorney from time to time to understand what's happening.
When you keep tabs on the case, your lawyer will remind you of important events like your ALR hearing. They will inform you of the date of your case hearing and what to expect. Your lawyer will discuss their options, strategy, and how they expect the case to proceed.
Do Not Drive If Your Driver’s License Has Been Suspended
If your driver’s license has been suspended, do not drive. In Texas, driving while your license has been suspended is an offense, and you can be charged. If you are arrested, your case becomes more complicated. It’s therefore prudent to restrain you from driving until your license suspension has been revoked.
Call a DWI Defense Lawyer Near Me
You should not drink and drive. But at times, you make the wrong choice and drive while intoxicated. If you or your loved one is arrested for DWI in Fort Worth, Texas, you should consult an experienced DWI lawyer. A conviction for a DWI carries heavy penalties. You may have to pay huge fines, lose your driver's license, or end up in jail.
At Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we have a proven track record of defending clients facing DWI charges. We have gained extensive experience over the years. We have defended countless clients and have an in-depth knowledge of the Texas criminal justice system. We have established a cordial working relationship with all Texas prosecutors and judges. If you or your loved one has been arrested for DWI, do not hesitate to contact us at 817-470-2128. We will discuss your case in detail and offer the best legal defense to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome.