First-Time DWI Defense in Texas.
A DWI Texas first offense can happen at anytime. It can happen after an office happy hour. It can happen during the holidays. Or even after tailgating during a football game.
To add to the drama, a first offense for DWI in Texas can result in jail time, fines, and even loss of your driver’s license. You will also have to bail out of jail after your arrest. Consequently, a DWI arrest is both scary and expensive.
The good news is that a DWI arrest does not always mean the driver is guilty of a crime. But it does mean you must think through your options carefully. In particular, you should ask yourself this question: “Should I get a lawyer for a Texas DWI First Offense?”
This post will answer that question. We will also answer other common questions we get from clients facing a first-time DWI in San Antonio, Texas. So let’s start from the beginning of a DWI arrest and then walk through your options.
What happens after a DWI arrest in Texas?
A. Bail out of Jail.
First, call someone to bail you out of jail. The bail amount will turn on the facts of your case. The more serious the facts in your case, then the higher the bond amount will become. For example, if someone is hurt or killed after a DWI crash, then your bail amount will reflect those facts. In contrast, if no one is hurt and you have a clean record, then your bond amount will be low.
Fortunately, most first-time DWI cases are misdemeanors. That is to say, no one is hurt or killed and the driver has a clean record. Nonetheless, if you cannot afford the bail amount, then you can ask your DWI lawyer to file a request to reduce your bond amount. Lawyers call this a motion for bond reduction.
B. Confront the Fear.
Next, confront your fears. After police arrest you for a DWI in Texas, you may feel different emotions. They include shame, embarrassment, anger, or stress. These emotions are normal.
But the strongest emotion people feel after a DWI arrest is fear. It is the fear of going to jail, losing a job, or losing something important in your life because of the arrest. And this fear can cause problems in your case.
The biggest problem is fear makes it hard to think through your options carefully. So you need to be aware of this emotion. Once you recognize and deal with this emotion, it will make it easier for you to make some important choices. And the best way to fight fear is to arm yourself with information.
This means you need to figure out the best and worst case scenarios. The best case scenarios are that the prosecutor will drop your case, lower the charges, or offer probation. The worst case scenario is that you will serve the max DWI jail term.
The good news is that most people do not serve the top jail terms for DWI. The bad news is that prosecutors usually do not drop a DWI charge. More to the point, to figure out what your options are, it will is helpful to figure out the jail terms for the most common DWI cases in Texas.
What is a BAC level and why is it important in DWI cases?
BAC stands for blood or breath alcohol concentration. It means the percent of alcohol in your blood stream. Further, your BAC level is important for two reasons.
First, Texas makes it a crime to drive a car with a BAC level of 0.08 or more. This is a key point in DWI defense cases. If a jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove your car with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, then they will find you guilty of DWI.
Additionally, for a first-time DWI case with no injuries, the driver will have a Class B misdemeanor conviction on his record. This crime carries between 3 days to 180 days in jail. However, probation is also a strong possibility.
Second, if the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or more, then the possible jail time will go up. In particular, the case will become a Class A misdemeanor. And the driver will face up to 1 year in jail. But again, probation is also possible.
What are the most common penalties for a first-time DWI offense in Texas?
|DWI Type.||Jail Time.||Fine Amount.||Probation Option.|
|DWI-1st.||72 hours to 180 days in jail.||$0 to $2,000.00.||Yes.|
|DWI-1st w/BAC of .15 or more.||0 days to one year in jail.||$0 to $4,000.00.||Yes.|
|DWI-2nd.||30 days to one year in jail.||$0 to $4,000.00.||Yes.|
|DWI-Open Container.||6 days to 180 days in jail.||$0 to $2,000.00.||Yes.|
However, if someone is hurt or killed during the crime, then a Texas DWI turns into a felony. Similarly, if the driver has two or more DWI convictions, then the third one turns into a felony.
Finally, probation is an option for a first-time DWI case in Texas.
C. How to Choose a DWI Lawyer in Texas.
Now that we know the jail terms for DWI cases in Texas, the next step is look for a DWI lawyer that will help you with your case. The easiest way to search for a DWI lawyer is to use Google or Bing. Look at the attorney reviews to see what other people in your position said about the lawyer.
But be careful, some lawyers cherry pick the reviews to improve their image. One way to cut through the online reviews is to look for patterns. As an example, good lawyers have good habits and bad lawyers have terrible habits.
And you should look for the following patterns or issues. Good lawyers will return your phone calls. They will also keep you up to date on your case. And they will give you honest and straight forward answers to your questions.
On the other hand, bad lawyers will do the opposite. After you pay them, they will not return your phone calls. They will show up to court unprepared. And you will be in the dark about your case.
In short, look for these patterns when you sort through the online reviews. This will save you a lot of hassle down the road. From there make a list of 3-5 lawyers you want to speak with.
D. Schedule an appointment with a Lawyer.
After you create your list, start calling the lawyers to schedule an appointment. Or you can even send them an online request for a consult. Even better, many lawyers will talk to you over the phone or by video about your case.
Once you find a lawyer you want to talk to, then listen carefully to what he or she tells you. From there, ask the following questions:
- Does the lawyer come across as sincere and genuine?
- Does the lawyer sound interested in helping me?
- Do he or she have experience handling DWI cases?
- How does the lawyer’s fee compare to the fees of other lawyers I have talked to?
- Is the lawyer giving me sound advice?
- Do I trust the lawyer I am talking to?
These are just a few of the questions you should consider when hiring a DWI lawyer. But most important of all, trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, then move on to the next lawyer. In sum, this is a solid approach to finding the right lawyer for your case.
Should I ask for an ALR hearing after a DWI arrest in Texas?
One issue that comes up after police arrest a driver for DWI is an ALR hearing. This is because if police arrest you for a DWI in Texas, then DPS will suspend your driving privilege 40 days after the arrest. To make matters worse, you only have 15 days to fight this suspension.
For this reason, you should request an ALR hearing. This hearing lets you fight the license suspension. Most important of all, you can use the ALR hearing to help fight your DWI case.
In particular, the ALR hearing allows you to “freeze” the arresting officer’s testimony. The ALR Judge will record the officer’s testimony electronically. After the hearing, you can request transcripts of the hearing. Then you can use the transcripts to cross-examine the officer during your criminal trial if he or she changes her story.
The best part of all, requesting an ALR hearing is free and easy to do. The easiest way is to make the request online. (If the link is broken, then do a Google search for “dps alr hearing online.”) Finally, you do not need a lawyer to make this request. However, you need to make this request within 15 days from the date of your arrest. Otherwise, you will waive the hearing.
If DPS suspends my license because of a DWI arrest, can I get an occupational license to drive?
In many cases the answer is yes. This is true for first-time DWI motorists with a clean record. You simply file a petition with the court and ask for an occupational license. This license will let you drive to work, school, and to other important locations. In most first-time DWI cases, the judge will grant your request if your paperwork is in order.
Should I hire a lawyer for a DWI Texas first offense or stick with my court appointed attorney?
This is one of the most common questions I get from the public. And the answer depends on two things. Your budget and your goals.
There are many good court-appointed attorneys in Texas. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of bad court-appointed attorneys in Texas. So who your court-appointed attorney is will help you answer this question.
If your court-appointed attorney does not return your calls or does not seem to care about your case, then you should hire an attorney. This is because you really need someone to lookout for your interests in court. But if your budget is tight, then this factor may answer the question for you.
On the other hand, if your court-appointed attorney is working your case and returning your calls, then you may want to stick with the attorney and protect your budget.
In addition, if you want to fight your case, then you should consider hiring an attorney. This is because you can choose which lawyer will help you. And you can hire a lawyer with experience fighting DWI charges. In addition, you can hire a lawyer who can dedicate the time to help you out.
What are the pros and cons of hiring a DWI lawyer?
Benefits of hiring a DWI Lawyer:
- You can pick a lawyer with the right experience to handle your case;
- The lawyer will return your phone calls and treat you with dignity and respect;
- The lawyer will dedicate time to handle your case.
Cons of hiring a DWI Lawyer:
- You may hire a dud. (The lawyer charges a lot, but does little or no work.)
- You may overpay for a lawyer if you don’t shop around before you hire one.
Can I see the dash camera and body camera videos of my arrest?
Yes. In Bexar County, Texas, the prosecutor will give your attorney copies of the videos and police reports in your case. From there, your attorney will schedule a time with you to see the evidence. Ideally, you should see the videos early in the case.
This is because the videos along with the DWI breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results play a major role in DWI trials. It is powerful evidence that juries understand. And it is also evidence you need to see so you can weigh your options.
Further, this maybe the most important point of a DWI defense. The client makes the big calls in the case. For instance, the client decides if he or she wants a jury trial. The client also decides if he or she will testify in his or her own defense. And before the client makes these choices, the client must see the videos.
What can a DWI lawyer do for you?
To sum it up, a DWI lawyer will help you decide if you should fight your case or work something out. If you decide to fight your case, then your DWI attorney will review the videos and police reports with you to present the best defense possible. In other words, you will work with your attorney as a team.
On the other hand, if you opt for a plea deal, then your attorney will make sure you get treated fairly. As an example, your lawyer will push to get you the lowest probation term possible. Or he can also fight to get the lowest jail time possible.
San Antonio DWI and DUI Defense Attorney.
Perhaps the best defense to a first-time DWI charge in Texas is to avoid it all together. You can do this by hiring a ride-share company like Lyft or Uber. In fact, this is what most DWI lawyers do when they go out to Fiesta or any Holiday event. For many of us, drinking and driving is just not worth the trouble of getting arrested.
However, if you are arrested for a first-time DWI charge in Texas, then you have options. These options including fighting your case or working something out. And a good DWI attorney can help you explore those options without scaring your or pressuring you into pleading out.
Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.