A DWI arrest is stressful. For the first time in your life, you may have been in jail. Going to court, uncertainty about the process, and the fear of incarceration can be overwhelming.
The first step is to get out of jail. If your family member or friend has been charged with 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 drivers license. If you do not, your license will be suspended.
It is helpful to have an attorney at the first court setting. That way, in case the judge tries to raise your bond or impose conditions on your bond, you have representation. Furthermore, at the first court setting, a lawyer can start to assess the evidence against you and formulate a strategy.
In some venues like Harris County, your eligibility for pretrial diversion is time-barred. Having a lawyer on the first court date there to evaluate your case may prevent you from losing out on pretrial diversion.
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.
If you miss court or are late, the judge may revoke or raise your bond. The presumption of innocence does not apply to bond conditions. If you violate your bond conditions, you may find yourself in jail even though you are innocent of DWI.
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 case 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 less likely there was a mistake when you have multiple charges.
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 along with the patrol video.
The legality of the stop must be explored. If the police officer illegally stopped you, you may be able to suppress the evidence against you. The administration of the field sobriety tests must be investigated. For example, the police officer may not have been qualified to administer them or may have administered them incorrectly. Similarly, the administration of the breath or blood test must be investigated to develop defensive issues.
A key component of every DWI defense is reviewing the video of the stop. The officer most likely recorded the entire stop and investigation. If you do not look intoxicated on the video, you should never plead guilty to DWI.
Fighting your case may take time. A prosecutor has to know that you are willing to fight your case until the end before they will dismiss it. If you have a good lawyer who has developed defensive issues, a dismissal is more likely.
Remember too, if you are a first time offender, your worst case scenario for punishment is probably probation. You need to not fear a jail sentence.