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How Can You Effectively Navigate a DWI Charge in Houston?

What is a DWI?

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, driving while intoxicated, or DWI is when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC reaches 0.08% OR as soon as drugs or alcohol has impaired a driver’s abilities.

What Should Happen if I’m Pulled Over?

For a vehicle to be pulled over for drunk driving, there must first be probable cause to do so. Here, the burden of proof falls on the officer. Without this proof, a DWI case may be thrown out due to a violation of the protection against search and seizure. If probable cause is confirmed, an officer may then conduct a field sobriety test. These tests attempt to determine whether or not the driver is illegally impaired. Field sobriety tests include:

  • Eye movement: The eye movement test is used by having a driver follow a moving object using only his or her eyes. Unsteady eye movement can indicate impairment.
  • Walking steadily: For this test, an officer may instruct a driver to walk back and forth by a certain number of steps and in a straight line. The officer will be watching for unsteadiness and ability to follow instructions.
  • Balancing on one leg: Officers will have a driver balance on one leg for several seconds to test coordination and balance.

If a driver fails a field sobriety test, an officer will then typically conduct a blood or breath test to get a specific BAC. Refusal to comply with testing is allowed; however, doing so typically results in immediate consequences for the driver.

What Can I Expect During Transit?

Once an officer has established an illegal level of impairment, the driver should be read his or her Miranda rights, arrested, and transported to booking. The time spent in transit can be a big pitfall for many drivers in this situation. Heightened emotions and potentially long wait times can cause drivers to admit to or to imply guilt with this charge and others. The transfer process carries a high expectation of capturing incriminating statements, which is why many police forces equip squad cars with recording devices. For this reason, patience and silence should be remembered anytime a driver finds themselves in the back seat of a patrol car. Any information voluntarily given can and will be used against any suspected offender. Once a driver reaches the police station, the booking procedure will start.

How is Booking Handled?

Here, the driver has reached a critical part of the arresting process. This stage is where it is of the utmost importance to contact a DWI Defense Attorney at Cory Roth Law Office. While the booking process is typically to obtain personal information, fingerprints, mugshots, etc, prosecutors and officers will use any further information volunteered during this time against you. Booking also implicates multiple constitutional rights that can be another pitfall if the defendant is unclear of his or her rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, avoid self-incrimination, have reasonable bail to secure your release and choose and retain defense counsel of your choosing. A general guide to follow during booking is as follows:

  • Remain silent other than providing identifying and personal information such as name, address, birthday, etc, as requested.
  • Do not answer any other questions, even if the questions are presented as innocent and unassuming.
  • Avoid small talk with police, staff, and other inmates until able to speak with a lawyer.
  • Ensure wallet, purse, jewelry, etc, are properly secured without attempting to hide contraband.
  • Submit to a mugshot and fingerprinting while understanding these will be entering a national database.
  • Cooperate with a detailed body search.
  • Use telephone privileges to contact family or friends to help reach expert defense at Cory Roth Law Office.

After booking, the subject may be released once bail is paid or the terms of bail have been satisfied. Conditions include:

  • The defendant swears to appear in court for any further proceedings regarding this charge
  • The defendant swears not to harm anyone or anything before the hearing

What is an ALR Hearing?

In Texas, an Administrative License Revocation or ALR hearing can be requested to contest the license suspension process that immediately follows a DWI arrest. The offender must initiate the request for this hearing. The Texas Department of Public Safety must receive this request no more than 15 days after the notice of license suspension was received. If no hearing is requested, the driver’s license will be suspended 40 days after the notice of suspension. If the driver has failed a blood or breath test, the license will be suspended for 90 days. If the driver has refused to test, the license will be suspended for at least 180 days. A lawyer may request an ALR hearing on the defendant’s behalf. It is important to note that an ALR hearing is deemed a civil hearing and not a criminal proceeding; however, a successful hearing can help during a trial.

What Happens During DWI Arraignment and Trial?

The arraignment is when a defendant hears his or her charges and any evidence or statutory penalties against them. This is when a plea can be entered. There is no benefit to pleading guilty. Pleading “not guilty” gives an attorney more time to build a stronger case in favor of the defendant and to negotiate terms with the prosecutor. Once a trial date has been set and arrives, the prosecution will be required to prove each element in the case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is when an attorney will argue each element in the defendant’s favor. If a conviction occurs, a sentencing hearing will determine the punishment.

Do I Need an Attorney?

A DWI charge is not the time to face court alone. You need a knowledgeable, competent attorney with your best interests in mind. Call Cory Roth Law Office today at 832-819-5290 or fill out a contact form today for a free consultation.

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