THIS IS MY FIRST DWI.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
March 8, 2021
At 39%, Texas traffic fatalities due to drunk driving place the state in the fifth-highest spot nationwide for the percentage of deaths due to intoxicated drivers.
Texas treats driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a serious offense. Even a first-time conviction can involve jail time, heavy fines, suspension of your license, mandatory alcohol education, and the installation of a device on all of your vehicles that prevents you from driving them if you’ve been drinking.
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI in Bryan, Texas, or any of the surrounding communities, call us immediately at Rick Davis & Associates. We are a highly experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense firm that will fight to protect your rights. Let’s work together to develop the best possible defense strategy to pursue the most favorable outcome.
What is a DWI or DUI Charge?
Texas law prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. If you’re stopped and tested and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.8% or higher, then you can be charged with a DWI. If you’re under 21 years of age and stopped and tested, but your BAC is below 0.8%, you can be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence), which carries a lesser penalty.
Texas’s “implied consent” law requires a driver who is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence to undergo a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, you will face having your driver’s license suspended for 180 days for the first refusal. Refusing a subsequent time can result in a suspension of up to two years.
What Happens After the Arrest?
Texas law mandates that you spend no less than 72 hours in jail for a first offense. You will be required to go before a judge within 48 hours of your arrest. The judge will set a bond that you must post before being released.
Before you’re released, you will also be served with a notice of suspension, meaning your driver’s license has been suspended. You then have 15 days to appeal the suspension by requesting an administrative license revocation hearing (ALR). As soon as you make your request, you will be allowed to drive again until the hearing date.
If you lose your appeal, your license will be immediately suspended. You can, however, request an occupational license that will allow you to commute to and from work during the suspension.
After that, usually within a matter of days or weeks depending on where you were arrested, you will be required to make what is called a “First Appearance” in court. You will not have to make a plea at this time, but you will need to inform the court whether or not you’ve hired an attorney. If so, your attorney can then begin the process of requesting all documents and evidence related to your case in order to develop a defense for you.
After that — typically within 20 or 30 days — you will make a “first announcement” appearance in court, followed by a “second announcement” hearing in another 20 or 30 days. The purpose of these hearings is for you to announce whether you intend to fight the charges or accept a plea bargain.
If you choose to opt for a plea bargain, you will be required to appear before a court-based “plea setting” to plead guilty and accept the terms of the plea bargain offered by the district attorney. If you choose to plead not guilty during the announcement proceedings, your case will proceed to first, a “pre-trial setting,” and then, usually a week later, to the actual “trial setting,” where a judge or jury will decide if you’re guilty or not based on the evidence presented.
Penalties for a First DWI
A first-time DWI is generally a Class B misdemeanor in the absence of aggravating factors. Penalties can include:
Jail time of 72 hours to 180 days
Fines of up to $2,000
Possible probation, which may include a DWI education program, a DWI Victim Impact Panel, random drug and alcohol testing, community service, and the installation of an Interlock device on all of your vehicles
License suspension of up to 180 days, or longer if you’ve had prior suspensions for any reason
A surcharge to keep your driver’s license ($1,000 to $2,000 per year for up to three years)
Other factors can increase the penalties. If your BAC comes registers 0.15% or higher, the fine rises to $2,000 to $4,000 and jail time to a minimum of 72 hours up to one year.
If a child under 15 years of age is present in your vehicle, it is considered a state felony, which is punishable by not less than 180 days nor more than two years in a state jail. A fine of up to $10,000 can be levied, along with another 180 days of suspension of your driver’s license.
If your DWI results in the injury or death of another person, the crime rises to a second-degree felony, punishable by not less than two years nor more than 20 years in state prison, along with a fine of up to $10,000.
How Skilled Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI, you need to seek the help of a defense attorney immediately. Going it alone only increases your odds of your being convicted and receiving harsher penalties. With the help of an experienced attorney, you will be better positioned to get a reduction or acquittal.
We have extensive legal experience in defending clients and protecting their rights in DWI cases. We will fight aggressively for you and develop an effective defense strategy that optimizes your chances of a good outcome.
Call us immediately for a free consultation. Your future is on the line.
At Rick Davis & Associates, we are proud to serve clients throughout Bryan, Texas, and the surrounding communities of College Station, Brenham, Anderson, Navasota, Madisonville, Caldwell, Brazos County, Washington County, Grimes County, Burleson County, and Madison County, Texas.