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What To Do After Being Arrested Top 10 DWI Mistakes What Happens After a DWI Arrest?

What Happens After a DWI Arrest?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2009, over 1.4 million people were arrested for allegedly drunk driving. For many people, this type of arrest is the first time that they have ever had to deal with any area of criminal law. This can leave them confused about the process and frightened for the future. I understand how difficult of a situation it can be to deal with the aftermath of a DWI arrest and I am fully committed to ensuring that my clients are given the support that they need. In an effort to inform the accused of the process that they are facing after a DWI arrest, I have included a basic step-by-step process of what to expect:

DWI Traffic Stop

The first part of the process is what you have likely already experienced – the DWI stop. In the state of Texas, there are no sobriety checkpoints (as the state views them as unconstitutional), so the only time that a DWI arrest can be made is during a traffic stop. This can only occur should a law enforcement officer observe that there has been some sort of infraction of the law. For example, a peace officer cannot pull a driver over because they saw them pulling out of the parking lot of a bar, but they can if they see the driver weaving between the lanes, driving at erratic speeds or ignoring traffic signs.

Once you have been pulled over, you will be asked by the officer to show them your valid driver license, as well as proof of insurance and registration. If the officer has reason to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, they will likely proceed into the next stages of the case – namely, proving your intoxication. This will involve field sobriety tests, breath tests & the more complex blood tests. If these are interpreted to prove drunk driving, the officer will arrest you and place you officially into custody.

Booking

Once you have been arrested and taken to the local jail, you will be officially "booked." During this process, all of your information will be taken from you and put into the inventory system. This will include your name, your fingerprints and any other relevant information which essentially proves that you were there. You will also be searched at this time and all personal property will be removed from your person.

Setting of Bond

After you have been booked, you will likely be taken into a jail cell to wait. In most cases, within twelve hours you will be taken to Pretrial Services, which will interview you and determine your "flight risk." This will be a large factor in setting the amount of your bail. The bond is essentially a promise that you are making where you state that you will come back and show up to all of the hearings. In cases where you can pay the bond, you may pay out-of-pocket – this is commonly known as a "cash bond." If you are unable to afford bond, however, you can work with a bondsman or woman with what is known as a "surety bond." During this process, they will post bond on your behalf.

ALR Hearing

Separate from the rest of the criminal process, those arrested for drinking & driving will also need to deal with the ALR hearing. This is a civil case which may result in the suspension of your driving privileges. After you have been arrested, you will be given a "Notice of Suspension." After receiving this, you will only have 15 days during which to request your ALR hearing. At this hearing, it will deal with the proceedings of the arrest. Keep in mind that this is completely separate from the criminal hearing. It is entirely possible for your license to be suspended at the ALR hearing, but not during the criminal case or vice-versa. You therefore need to be confident that you have an experienced lawyer on your side to help protect your rights.

First Appearance

After bond has been set, the first time you appear before the court is known as "first appearance." During this, the court will be informed whether or not you are represented by legal counsel, as well as give your attorney a chance to request evidence gathered by law enforcement (such as videos, police reports and DWI test results).

Announcements

Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be required to attend several announcements. There will generally be two or more. In these cases, you will be able to tell the court whether or not you are prepared to enter your plea. For certain announcements, you may not be required to show up.

Plea Setting & Pre-Trial Setting

What happens next during the case will depend entirely on what plea you choose to enter. If you enter a plea of guilty, you be scheduled to appear at a "plea setting." At this time, you will officially enter the plea and will be sentenced. This may include fees, incarceration, as well as potential probation. All of this will be determined and announced at the plea setting.

If, however, you enter a plea of not guilty, you will be scheduled to appear instead at a "pre-trial setting." This is an informal setting which is also referred to as "pre-trial conference." During this, your attorney will be given further opportunity to review the evidence corresponding to the case, as well as negotiate any plea bargains if offered.

Pre-Trial Hearing

In some cases, before the trial proceeds, there might be what is known as a pre-trial hearing. According to Article 28.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, this may be set by the court based on the merits of the case. At this time, there are several different things which may be determined. This may include things such as the arraignment of the defendant, pleadings, motions, as well as discovery and entrapment.

Trial

After you have navigated through the above steps, it will come time for to actually have your trial be held. During this, both sides will present their arguments and supporting evidence so that a judge or jury can determine the question of your guilt. There are, generally, six different stages which will occur during the trial. This includes the selection of the jury, opening statements, witness testimony & cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instruction and the delivery of the verdict.

It is important to recognize that in criminal trials, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. To achieve this, they may use evidence, opinions of experts, as well as witnesses if necessary. If you are found guilty at the trial, you will be sentenced by the judge and will move forward into the punishment. If you found not guilty, it will be over.

Contact the Samuelson Law Firm as soon as you can!

The above should not be taken for legal advice but, rather, the generalization of the steps which may be experienced during the criminal process. If you are looking for more information about what can be done to protect your rights and what to expect throughout the criminal process, it is extremely important to get the involvement of a knowledgeable lawyer. At my firm, I am dedicated to keeping my clients informed throughout the entire process. I know that it can be daunting to face a criminal process and I want to help in any reasonable way that I can. To discuss your case in specifics, please pick up the phone and call today! I look forward to hearing from you.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.