The first thing is, if you have been arrested and you are reading this that means that you spent the night in the fine accommodations of the Harris County jail or at another county jail.
Unfortunately, you are going to want to get out of there and you are not going to want to think about your case or DWI law at all.
Don’t do that because there are things we need to do right away to protect not only your Liberties but keep you out of jail, check your record and keep you driving legally.
The first thing you need to understand is when you are arrested for DWI there is not just one case.
Yes, you have the DWI case against you where the state alleges you drove while intoxicated but the DPS (Department of Public Safety) also files a charge against you where they try to suspend your license.
There are certain steps that we need to take right away in order to ensure your license is not suspended.
That process is called an ALR or Administrative License Revocation.
So the first step is to gather all your paperwork that you received when you got out of jail.
Then call an attorney and find someone to walk with you through this process to protect those rights that we talked about.
Then you need to let your attorney talk to you about the ALR process, but we’re going to have to request a hearing within 15 days from the date you are arrested.
That is right, 15 days.
Even if your first Court setting is two weeks from now or a month from now, you do not have much time.
We have to act within 15 days to get this ALR.
The next thing you need to do is figure out is if there are any bond conditions the court has imposed on you.
When you are arrested for a DWI the court can require you to have one of those blow machines in your car called an Ignition Interlock Device.
We need to figure out if you need one or if there is a way to keep you from needing one and a good attorney can do that for you.
This is one of the reasons why you need an attorney so quickly.
Other bond conditions can be random drug testing, reporting to court and other things like that.
Then once you have your attorney and have your license secure you are going to have to go to court and start gathering evidence in your case and prepare a defense.
If you do not do anything I assure you the State will take full advantage of that and the consequences for DWI, even your first one, can be up to a year in jail.
Like I said before, the first step and the most important one is to find yourself a good attorney.
So the next logical question is “how do I actually find a good DWI attorney?”
Well Jim, if they are listening or reading this they hopefully already found one here at Trichter & LeGrand but generally speaking you’re going to want to check online like everyone does and make sure you read reviews.
If you talk to family and friends that had individuals that have been previously represented by an attorney that is a good place to start.
Then above all else you want to meet and talk to that attorney.
You want to be comfortable with the attorney because you are placing your faith in them protecting you, your freedom, your license, and Liberties.
You actually want to go and interview those attorneys.
Okay, so after I am arrested and get out of jail I find some DWI attorneys online and call them.
What questions should I ask them?
First, you want to ensure that you are comfortable with them.
By just to talking to them about your situation you’re going to get a sense on whether or not that attorney handles DWIs, knows what they’re talking about, and knows how to handle themselves so they can convey information.
That person is going to be the same person who is going to be conveying information and talking to the judge or prosecutors for you.
So if you do not feel comfortable with them, the judge and prosecutors are not going to feel comfortable.
Then the questions you need to ask are what we previously discussed.
Does that attorney know what an ALR is?
Do they handle license hearings?
Do they know the consequences of an ALR & DPS hearing?
If that attorney does not know what you are talking about then politely hang up immediately.
You want to see how long they have been handling DWIs and whether they understand what field sobriety tests are.
You want to see if they know what the NHTSA manual is, that’s the officers playbook for how they do investigations in DWI cases.
All of these things are important questions that you need your attorney to be comfortable with.
And then the last piece that you want to ask the attorney is what are the possible outcomes of a DWI case.
DWI cases can have several outcomes.
Hopefully you hire a good attorney who does a good investigation and can get your case dismissed.
Other alternatives are a plea agreement and you want the best plea bargain possible.
And if the case goes to trial you want to know that you have the best trial lawyer possible.
There is also other programs to ask about including the PTI program which is a program with the Harris County District Attorney’s office that allows your case to be dismissed after some period of time on probation.
Other Counties have the same thing.
Wow, that is a lot of good information.
I know we are taking up a lot of your time here but I have one more question that is very common.
What about hiring a public defender?
If I decide to try to save a few bucks and go with a public defender what can I expect? Could I beat a DWI with a public defender? What can I expect?
I totally understand Jim, I get that question a lot myself.
It seems like that people come out and say – I’ll just take whatever they give me – anyone that can stand up there.
You have to be proactive in this situation.
The decisions you make in the first weeks of getting a DWI arrest can affect you for the rest of your life.
Not only can they affect you in the short-term if you are driving illegally because your license is suspended, but it can be on your record for the rest of your life.
Am I saying that all public defenders cannot do that? No, but you are gambling when you hire a public defender.
If you do not find yourself a good attorney, who knows DWI law, then you are setting yourself up for future regrets.
Because DWIs unlike other misdemeanor offenses or Felony DWIs have certain consequences that other cases don’t.
Other cases do not come with this automatic license suspension if you do not do certain steps.
They do not come with long-term effects on driving or potentially not getting a commercial driver’s license if that option comes available in the future.
And then the DWI could be on your record forever.
So you need to ask your public defender all the same questions we previously discussed and if they cannot answer them you do not want them.
And just because it is free does not mean it is right.
It’s no different from when you’re out there shopping for anything else, you get what you paid for.
In this case it could be your freedom and you could be in jail.
So hopefully you listened and got some good tips and advice on why it is important for you to find yourself a good DWI attorney.
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