The majority of DWI cases resolve before the trial phase. Generally, defendants opt to enter a guilty plea in exchange for reduced charges or a lighter sentence. If you have decided to fight the charges and go to trial, nothing is as important as ensuring you are well prepared for the day. Any legwork you do before your trial date will be well worth your time. A skilled criminal defense attorney can provide all the guidance you need and offer reliable legal representation on the D-day.

One thing that makes trial preparation paramount is that it is a potential means to your acquittal. Some heavy lifting increases your chances of safeguarding your future and aspects of your life that matter, such as your family and profession. If a trial works in your favor and you are acquitted, one of the biggest perks you will enjoy is maintaining a clean criminal record and a good reputation.

DWI Trial Preparation; What to Expect Of the Formal Processes and Proceedings

If you are arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), you will undergo several court processes. Understanding each phase of your case is vital to ensure adequate preparation. Bear in mind that each decision you make right from the arraignment may heavily impact the outcome of your case.

After you are arrested and the prosecution files charges against you, the next step will be an arraignment. This is when you will appear in court for the first time, and a judge will notify you of your charges. At this point, the judge will also inform you about your right to an attorney where the courts will appoint one for you if you cannot afford private legal representation.

Most importantly, you will need to enter a plea. If you plead “not guilty,” this could set the ball rolling to a DWI trial. Under the “presumption of innocence,” the courts may set a bail amount, allowing you to go home and prepare for the trial. Note that a judge can deny bail, depending on the facts of your case. Either way, you will also receive notifications about the scheduled court dates for various hearings.

It is not foreign for DWI defendants to plead “not guilty” and then change their minds after an arraignment. If this happens, your attorney can meet with the prosecutor and negotiate for the best plea bargain. Note that you can opt for a plea bargain right after the arraignment and at any point until the trial verdict.

The courts will determine the legal merits of your DWI case during a pre-trial hearing. The idea of this hearing is to decide whether you should stand trial. If a case doesn’t satisfy the set probable cause standards, a judge will likely dismiss it. If it is established that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to move to trial, you will then proceed to the next stage of the case, pre-trial.

During the pre-trial phase, your attorney can file a range of motions to ensure you have fair winning chances during the trial. Some of the motions your lawyer may file include:

  • Motion of discovery
  • Motions for the change of venue
  • Motion to dismiss because of lack of probable cause
  • Motion to strike past convictions
  • Motion for the appointment of an interpreter
  • Move to eliminate the defendant’s confession
  • Motion to suppress evidence
  • Motion for continuance
  • Motion to dismiss a non-reliable witness’s testimony, etc

Depending on the moves your lawyer files and whether a judge denies or grants them, your case may be over before the trial phase. If the motions are denied or have little impact on the prosecution’s case, you must brace yourself for the trial procedures.

Here is what to expect:

Motions in Limine

The term “In limine” is Latin. It stands for at the start or on the threshold. The motion requests the court to consider the admissibility of evidence tabled by the prosecution before the trial. Your attorney can file motions to suppress evidence during the pre-trial phase or once the trial begins.

Jury Selection

One of the essential steps of preparing for trial is taking jury selection seriously. Bear in mind that the jury will be tasked with determining your fate. In Texas, the jury should consist of 6 people when the case is a DWI misdemeanor. If you face DWI felony charges, the jury must consist of 12 people. Don’t forget that enormous bias exists against persons accused of drunk driving, so you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney who can find jurors who are most open to acquittal.

The jury selection process begins on the day the trial starts, and it takes about 2 to 3 hours. The court will call in a panel of 20 to 30 people for jury duty, and they will fill out some questions to give you a rough idea of who they are. After this, the judge will inform them of the process, and the prosecutor will dive in to ask the jurors questions. Your attorney will then have the opportunity to address the jury and ask questions. Ideally, the judge, prosecutor, and your attorney will have at least 10 minutes each.

When facing DWI charges, your freedom and reputation are on the line. This makes it imperative not to hesitate to inform your attorney about your thoughts or feelings about different jurors. Remember that the court may excuse certain jurors for general bias against the case or even racism. A skilled attorney will be keen to strike out persons who may potentially ruin your chances of acquittal.

Trial Begins

After the jury selection phase, the DWI trial can officially begin. The jurors will be given their oath, preparing them to make an honest judgment based on evidence tabled as well as the account of witnesses.

Opening Statements

The prosecution will go first and deliver opening statements. After all, they bear the burden of proof to have you convicted of driving while intoxicated. Your attorney will go next and also provide an opening statement.

Prosecution Presents Their Case

After the opening statements, the prosecutor will provide the court with evidence that implicates your crime. Proof can be demonstrative whether the prosecution will use charts, maps, and pictures. It can also be in the form of testimonies from witnesses. Your attorney will then cross-examine the evidence and witnesses before allowing the prosecution to re-examine them if necessary.

Motion to Dismiss

If the evidence tabled by the prosecution fails to prove that you are guilty of DWI, your attorney can file a motion to dismiss your case. This could also happen if your lawyer can prove that a witness under oath perjured themselves by providing false information. Note that this is an optional stage that your attorney is likely to skip if they cannot oppose the tabled evidence.

Defense Presents the Main Case

The next phase is yet another critical phase in your trial. This is when your defense attorney presents your case and presents the evidence that could work in your favor. Again, pieces of evidence can be in the form of demonstrative proof, documents, and witness testimonies. At this point, it will be the prosecution’s turn to cross-examine witnesses before your defense attorney can rest their case.


Before the three main parties (judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney) can settle matters regarding jury instructions, the prosecution will have one last chance to convince the jury that their evidence is credible. As such, the prosecutor will plead with the jurors to support a guilty verdict. In short, the main case presented by your attorney will play a significant role in determining the tone during the subsequent phases of your trial. After this, the judge will give the jury the final set of instructions.

Closing Arguments

Your defense attorney and the prosecution will have their chance of giving closing arguments. Again, the prosecution goes first, although they will also have the opportunity to provide a final rebuttal once your defense lawyer presents a closing statement.

Jury Deliberation

Your trial is almost coming to an end, and the jury must give their verdict. Therefore, the selected members will retire to the jury room, where they will go through the physical and written pieces of evidence during deliberations. Typically, there is a jury-appointed foreperson that reads the charges and returns to court with a verdict.


Generally, the verdict is a written declaration of the juror’s decision on your case. The jury could give a “not guilty” verdict where you can go home immediately. If a “guilty” verdict is delivered, you will be taken into custody directly. Depending on how a case unfolded, your attorney could opt to file post-trial motions to challenge a guilty verdict. One of the most common motions filed at this point is the motion for a new trial.


If the jury delivers a guilty verdict, you will return to court for a sentencing hearing. The judge will inform you about the punishment you face, depending on whether you face felony or misdemeanor charges.

Your case may be far from over even if the jury delivers a guilty verdict. In Texas, there are two other options you may consider following an unfavorable trial outcome. They include:

  • Appeal
  • The Writ of Habeas Corpus

If you disagree with the verdict, you can appeal the ruling. Usually, you should file your appeal to the next highest court in Texas. As such, if your case is heard in a county or district court, you can file your appeal in the fourteenth or first courts of appeal in the state.

On the other hand, the constitution protects you against indefinite or unlawful imprisonment. The term “Habeas corpus” stands for “show me the body.” You can file the writ of habeas corpus if the court miscalculates your parole eligibility or imposes a sentence exceeding the statutory maximum.

Trial Preparation Tips for DWI Cases in Fort Worth, Texas

We cannot emphasize enough that a trial is your best chance for an acquittal. Whether you intend to take the stand and testify or not, it is crucial to engage in preparation activities that can help strengthen your case and put you on the good side of the jury.

Ideally, your preparation efforts should help you demonstrate to the judge and jury that you are innocent of the charges you face. At the very least, they should help you show how seriously you take drinking and driving crimes. While the preparation activities are not necessarily demanded by the court, they can help you spruce up your character before the judge and jury.

Here are some essential DWI preparation tips:

Complete an Alcohol Assessment

If the evidence against you is overwhelming and you probably have other alcohol-related charges on your record, your attorney will likely recommend that you complete an alcohol assessment. Furthermore, it may work in your favor to also start alcohol classes if this is a move recommended following your alcohol assessment. Ensure that you begin the lessons as soon as possible to increase your chances of completing them right before your trial.

Attend AA Meetings

If the alcohol assessment suggests you have an alcohol addiction, you may want to begin AA classes immediately. Again, this is a DWI preparation step that is not required by the court but could work in your best interests. Note that attending AA meetings may only be necessary if assessments establish that you have a drinking problem. If an incident was a mistake or a one-off thing, attending AA meetings may not be required.

Adhere To Your Release Conditions

As we mentioned earlier, you will attend an arraignment hearing within 72 hours following an arrest. The judge will then set bail or release you on your own recognizance if the circumstances of your case allow. If you secure your freedom from jail pending your trial, nothing is as essential as abiding by the terms and conditions of your release. This is irrespective of whether you are released on bail or your own recognizance.

Some of the conditions of release may include abstaining from alcohol consumption, abiding by a curfew, refraining from any criminal activity, attending treatment classes, and adhering to the set driving restrictions. Most importantly, the court will expect you to show up for your hearings without fail. Note that any slip-ups once you are released from jail could adversely affect your trial.

Work On Your Likability

Posing as a likable person before a judge and jury is easier said than done. This is more so if you face charges for drunk driving that resulted in a victim’s death or severe injury. All the same, you can salvage the situation by ensuring the jurors remain neutral about you. Essentially, you need each jury member to like you and look at you as a good person and law-abiding citizen who just bumped into an unfortunate situation.

Keep in mind that a lot of what happens during trial is subjective. How jurors decide your fate is also relatively subjective. An easy way to be likable is to maintain your manners during hearings. Avoid whining during witness testimonies, and don’t yield to the temptation to make unpleasant facial expressions irrespective of what the prosecution says. The idea is to remain serious and approachable at the same time. Therefore, don’t make swearing statements or talk in a disagreeable fashion.

Dress Up For the Occasion

Your dress code can give the court the assumption that you are serious about the charges you face. Likewise, it could also demonstrate that you think the trial is your off day from work when you can have a picnic. By dressing up seriously, you allow yourself to show the court that you are an outstanding member of your society. A picnic kind of dress code may just prove you are lazy, unremorseful, and possibly deserve to be behind bars.

Tell Your Story

Taking the stand and testifying on your behalf can be a good or bad thing. If you choose to testify, nothing is as important as telling your story and using words that tap into the jurors’ emotions. Make sure you heed your attorney’s advice and rehearse your testimony to ensure it’s perfect. The main aim of testifying is to make the jurors sympathize with you. This is often possible if you tell your story and let the jury know that you are not so different from them.

How you tell your story matters a lot. One of the best DWI preparation tips is that you must look the jurors in the eye. Believe in your account of events and make it sound believable too. Express yourself and showcase your “likable” personality. Most importantly, maintain the same level of likability once you sit down. The last kind of person jurors are likely to acquit is a hypocrite who acts up when others testify and take the stand with “puppy eyes.” Such changes in your likability will only make you look like a theatrics master.

The above preparation tips should help nurture the jury’s opinion in your favor. Usually, it takes a lot of practice to get it right once your trial begins. Your attorney will walk with you and help you practice so that the intended outcome manifests during your trial.

Find a Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer Near Me

DWI charges can have a devastating impact on your life. A conviction can do more than just deny you of your freedom. With a DWI in your record, you may not have a reputation to come home to after serving your sentence. It is also unfortunate that you may not benefit from certain employment positions, affecting your livelihood and that of your loved ones. If you want to fight DWI charges in Fort Worth, TX, we can help you prepare for trial. At Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, our skills and trial experience allows us to put up a fireless fight to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today at 817-470-2128 for a free consultation.