4131 N. Central Expwy.
Dallas, Texas 75204-2171
What to do if You've just been Arrested for DWI
Here is what you need to do after a Texas DWI arrest, generally, in the following order:
- ABSOLUTELY, within two or three days of your arrest, contact a REAL DWI defense attorney. A REAL DWI defense attorney is one who actively contests DWI cases. Almost all criminal defense attorneys "handle" DWI cases, but make sure you find a REAL defense attorney who actually CONTESTS them by having jury trials. It may take a few phone calls, but keep calling until you find one in your area.
- Many lawyers who handle DWI cases do nothing but plead people guilty. Generally, you will want to avoid these lawyers. They wouldn't know a winnable DWI case if they saw one, because they never fight them. NEVER believe a lawyer who tells you that there is absolutely no way to win your case. He is either ignorant or lying to you.
- Within a day or two of the arrest, return to the location of the arrest and take some photos or video depicting the scene. Consider taking photos of any tire marks, property damage, or unusual characteristics of the street. This is especially important if the location was undergoing change (such as construction) or if there was an accident involved. Make sure you take detailed photos of all vehicles if there was an accident involved.
- Within 2 or 3 days of your arrest: Write down everything you can remember about the arrest, and the 24 hours leading up to it. You should include, at a minimum:
- How much sleep you had the previous night.
- Everything you did over those 24 hours
- Everything you ate that day, and when
- Everything you drank that day, and when
- Any medications or health issues that day
- Every person you were with at any time during the 12 hours prior to the arrest.
Don't forget to include the cocktail waitresses and / or bartenders who served you. For liability purposes, if nothing else, they are usually more than cooperative in testifying that they did not serve you enough alcohol to get you intoxicated.
If you went out with friends or co-workers, it is also useful to record which places you went to, who drove to each location, the routes taken, and even the order in which each person arrived at each party location. Trials can be won with detailed testimony, and that requires some hard work on your part.
- ABSOLUTELY, within 15 days of your arrest (or within 15 days of receiving a license suspension notice, if you gave a blood test) you, or preferably your attorney, should request a hearing from the DPS on the driver's license suspension. The right to a hearing is forfeited if not requested within 15 days.
- At least TALK to a REAL DWI defense attorney about fighting your DWI. DWI convictions are FOREVER, and they can have unforeseen career, social, and financial consequences. DWI convictions never go away, nor do they ever come off your criminal record. They usually even follow you from state to state if you move.
In deciding whether or not to contest your DWI case, think long term: Ten or twenty years from now, will you wish you had fought this DWI?
Many people assume that they could not win their DWI because of one or more of the following factors:
- They were extremely drunk.
- They failed the sobriety tests.
- Their breath test was over the legal limit.
- Their blood test was over the legal limit.
- They caused a major accident.
- They ran into a police car.
- They mixed alcohol with medications.
- They couldn't remember anything that happened that night.
I have personally contested and won at least one DWI case with one or more of each of the factors listed above. Hundreds of other lawyers have won similar cases. I have won literally hundreds of DWI cases where the officers testified that the defendant failed the sobriety tests. Don't assume that your case is hopeless. You can't possibly know that until you talk to a REAL DWI defense attorney!
6. Hire a lawyer you are comfortable with, but hire the best lawyer you can afford. Unless two or three lawyers convince you otherwise, you should probably contest your case with a jury trial. If money is a limiting factor, you are probably 10 times better off contesting your case by jury trial with an inexperienced, affordable attorney, than hiring some big name attorney just to plead you guilty.
A young or inexperienced attorney can sometimes get you a not guilty verdict, but you can't get a not guilty verdict by pleading guilty, no matter how good your lawyer is, or how much he charges you!
7. Try to get together with your witnesses (everyone that was with you during the six hours or so before your arrest) to see if you can get them to write down everything that THEY can remember about the 24 hours prior to your arrest. If, shortly after the arrest, they will take a couple of hours and record their recollections of what happened that day, chances are good that they will be a good witness for you in court. If nothing else, they may remember something that your lawyer can use in your defense.
This can be kind of difficult and time consuming, but it will almost always pay off in the long run.
The police officers are professionals, and they ALWAYS take an hour or two to record their recollections and observations immediately after a DWI arrest. How are you and your witnesses going to be able to compete with them in a trial some six to twelve months later, if you don't take an hour or two yourself to write down what happened that night? Without notes, you'll have only vague recollections, and probably very little credibility in front of a jury.
- Consider having the jury assess your punishment, instead of the judge, in the event that you are convicted. Also consider NOT filing for probation from the jury. This is a bit of a radical approach, and somewhat risky, but in the garden variety DWI, with no aggravating circumstances, I have had very good luck with sentences from juries. In Dallas county, in most DWI first offenses, when the jury assesses punishment, the sentence is usually one weekend in jail, or less.
Two years probation is what most judges assess on a Texas DWI 1st offense, but a weekend in jail is much better than two years of being on probation and under the government's thumb, if you ask me. Talk to your lawyer about it and see what they think.
- I don't recommend that ANYONE plead guilty to a DWI 1st offense, unless they first talk to an experienced DWI defense attorney, and even then only if there are unusual circumstances. In DWI second or subsequent cases, it sometimes makes sense to take a plea bargain, if the circumstances are right, and the prosecution's offer is good enough.
HOWEVER, if you want to be a fool, and simply plead guilty to a first offense DWI, you may as well get the lowest priced attorney you can find. You shouldn't have to pay more than $750 or so for a lawyer to walk into the courthouse, fill in a few forms, and enter a guilty plea for you. If that is ALL that they do for you, the lawyer is being adequately compensated at $750 for that little amount of work.
You may call my office at 214.739.4515 to schedule an appointment to discuss your DWI. If you are too far away from Dallas to visit me in person, you can set up a one hour telephone consultation to discuss these and other matters regarding a Texas DWI case. My fee for a telephone consultation is $250 and must be paid in advance.
I do not charge for in person consultations on Dallas county DWI cases. My trial fees for fighting DWI cases are set on a case by case basis, but generally start around $6,500.