An arrest for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is stressful. You may have been in jail for the first time in your life. Going to court, uncertainty about the process and the fear of incarceration can be overwhelming.
Here is a brief guide about what to do following a DWI arrest.
The first step is to get out of jail. If the State charged your family member or friend with a DWI, you can post the entire bond amount at the jail or hire a bondsman to post the bail. If you hire a bondsman, the bondsman will keep 10% of the bond as their fee.
Sometimes because of past convictions or circumstances of the offense, the bond may be set artificially high. If this is the case, it may be better to retain a lawyer first and see if the lawyer can reduce the bond.
You should interview and retain a lawyer as soon as possible. In Texas, you have 15 days to request a hearing to keep your driver’s license. If you do not, the State will suspend your license.
It is helpful to have an attorney in the first court setting. That way, if the judge tries to raise your bond or impose conditions on your bond, you have representation. Furthermore, in the first court setting, a lawyer can assess the evidence against you and formulate a strategy.
In some counties, your eligibility for pretrial diversion is time-barred. Having a lawyer on the first court date to evaluate your case may prevent you from losing out on pretrial diversion.
Go to Court
As a condition of your bond, you must attend all court appearances. You must be on time. Leave early for court and allow time for traffic, finding a parking spot, and getting through the courthouse security line.
The judge may revoke or raise your bond if you miss court or are late. The presumption of innocence does not apply to bond conditions. If you violate your bond conditions, you may be in jail even though you are innocent of DWI.
Stay Out of Trouble
Be careful not to pick up a new case while on bond. As you may have noticed, it is easy to get arrested. If you pick up a new charge while on bond, your judge may revoke or raise your first bond. You will draw attention to yourself. The prosecutor is less likely to dismiss either case because it is less likely there was a mistake when you have multiple charges.
Assess the Evidence
Under Texas discovery laws, your lawyer has a right to all the evidence against you. Ask your lawyer to review the police officer’s report with you and the patrol video.
The defense must explore the legality of the stop. If the police officer illegally stopped you, you may be able to suppress the evidence against you. Your attorney must investigate the administration of the field sobriety tests. For example, the police officer may not have been qualified to administer them or may have administered them incorrectly. Similarly, your attorney must investigate the administration of the breath or blood test to develop defensive issues.
A vital component of every DWI defense is reviewing the video of the stop. The officer most likely recorded the full stop and investigation. If you do not look intoxicated on the video, you should never plead guilty to DWI.
Stay Determined and Be Patient
Fighting your case may take time. A prosecutor has to know that you are willing to fight your case until the end before they dismiss it. A dismissal is more likely if you have a good lawyer who has developed defensive issues.
Remember, if you are a first-time offender, your worst-case scenario for punishment is probably probation. So you do not need to fear a jail sentence.
Contact me for a free case review if you are charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Comal County or other Central Texas counties such as Hays County, Guadalupe County, Travis County, or Bexar County.