Stages of a DWI Case

Date Published 3 · 04 · 21
DWI arrest flow chart
Stages of a DWI Arrest Case

One of the biggest questions I receive from my clients is how can I expect my case to proceed now that I have been arrested for DWI. I understand no one wants to spend their time going through a criminal case and meeting with attorneys. However, we are here to make the process as easy as possible for you so that you can make a fully informed decision on your case.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with some idea of what you can expect in the handling of your case in the hopes it will help relieve some of the stress and anxiety of having a pending DWI arrest charge.

1. Request Adminsitrate License Revocation Hearing and Discovery

When you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated the Department of Public Safety will seek the suspension of your driver’s license. Depending on the facts of the case the Department of Public Safety will be seeking a suspension from 90 days to 2 years. An Administrative License Revocation Hearing is a hearing held to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. You have 15 days from the date of the arrest to challenge the suspension of your license.
This may be done over the phone, online, by mail or by fax. This is a critical stage in the case. By challenging the suspension of your license, it provides us with an opportunity to possibly prevent the suspension or at least delay the suspension. Further, it will provide us with an opportunity to obtain the police report in your case. Receiving the police report early on in our representation provides a huge benefit to our clients. The sooner we receive the reports the sooner we have an outline of the state’s case and the sooner we can begin analyzing it.

2. Notify Court of Representation

Once we are retained, we notify the court of our representation of you. That way the court notifies me of all hearings scheduled for your case. Depending on what county your case is pending in this will either be done by filing a Waiver of Arraignment or sending a letter to the court.

3. Client Meeting to Review Discovery from Texas Department of Public Safety

One of the main benefits of requesting an Administrative License Revocation hearing is that it provides us with an early opportunity to obtain a copy of the police report in your case. This provides us with an opportunity to really analyze the government’s case against you and begin working on an individual strategy in defending your case.

4. Administrative License Revocation Hearing

An Administrative License Revocation Hearing may be held telephonically or in person.
As a general rule, I always request an in-person hearing. Once I have reviewed the police report I will speak to you about whether we should subpoena the officer to the hearing.
This decision is based on the contents of the officer’s report.
As a general rule, if I believe the contents of the report are not sufficient for a suspension of your license then I will recommend we do not subpoena the officer to the hearing. If I believe the contents of the report are sufficient for a suspension then I will recommend we subpoena the officer to the hearing.
An officer’s failure to appear at an ALR hearing is one way to beat the suspension. This is why we request the hearing in person. An officer is human just like the rest of us and may not show up for several reasons. If we request a hearing by phone the officer will almost always be available to talk over the phone. Also, if the officer appears at the hearing then it provides me with an opportunity to obtain the officer’s testimony under oath outside the presence of the jury.

5. Petition Court for Restricted License

In the event, your license is suspended after the Administrative License Revocation hearing the next step is to petition the court for a restricted license. A restricted license is a driver’s license issued to an individual whose license has been suspended, revoked, or
denied. There are two types of restricted licenses.
The first type of restricted license is an “essential need” license. This license will allow you to drive when driving is required to fulfill basic daily essential needs. Essential needs will include going to work, school, grocery shopping, seeking medical treatment, and other such needs. In the event, you are driving for a purpose outside of an essential need then you are driving outside of the license and could be arrested and charged with another offense.
The second type of restricted license is an “interlock restricted” license. This is an easier license to obtain and does not have the restrictions of an “essential need” license.
However, it does require the use of an ignition interlock device which prevents the vehicle from operating when you have a breath alcohol concentration greater than .02. Prior to applying for a restricted license on your behalf we will sit down and discuss which license is best suited for you and your case.

6. Criminal Case Filed

The prosecuting attorney usually will file the case once the office receives all documents from the arresting agency and DPS. This may take some time depending on where you are arrested. Some counties are just faster than others. This depends on the inner workings of the prosecuting attorney’s office.

7. Request Discovery Pursuant to Micheal Morton Act

Once the criminal case is filed, we will request discovery from the prosecuting attorney pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 39.14. This section is also known as the Michael Morton Act. As a general rule, the state must produce and allow for inspection and electronic duplication, copying and photographing the evidence in the case. In a DWI arrest case, this would include all police reports, videos, and lab results of any blood or breath alcohol concentration results.
In the event there was a blood draw, we will send a second request to DPS to obtain further information about the testing of the blood.

8. Review Discovery with Client

Once I receive the discovery from the prosecuting attorney we will have several meetings to review the discovery and to continue to follow up on our strategy in handling your case.

9. Enter into Plea Negotiations with Prosecuting Attorney

Once we have fully analyzed the state’s case and we have followed our strategy for the case I will begin entering into plea negotiations with the prosecuting attorney. This stage may take several meetings between me and the prosecuting attorney. I have found the best offers are usually obtained after several meetings. As a general rule, you will not be at any of the meetings.
Once I have received the plea offer from the prosecuting attorney I will provide it to you. At our meeting, we will fully discuss the plea offer, the terms and conditions of it, and the risks and consequences of going to trial. Whether to go to trial or to accept the plea bargain is solely your decision. Whatever your decision is we will stand by you proudly.

10. Court/Trial

I understand going to court is probably not how you want to spend your time. However, court appearances are an important and necessary part of the process in achieving your goals for the case. Depending on the facts of your DWI arrest case and our strategy on the case I may recommend delaying the case or pushing your case forward. This is a decision that we make together based on the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s case. Therefore,
you may have numerous court settings or just one or two. The number of settings is dependent on your case and the court that is in. Some courts require the accused to be at every setting, while other courts only require the accused to only be at trial settings. In
the event, you can’t make a court setting please let me know as soon as possible so I may seek a continuance or reset of the setting.

If you make the decision to reject the plea bargain the next step is to go to trial on your case. As a general rule, we almost always select a jury trial. At trial, we will have the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses of the state and to present evidence in your defense. We will also have the opportunity to hold the state accountable for proving the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is a very subjective burden, it is the highest burden of proof in our judicial system.

I know and understand one of the last things you wish to be doing is sitting in court rooms, meeting with an attorney, and going through the process of a pending DWI case.
However, we are here to make things as easy and as comfortable for you as possible. I have attached a flow chart to this handout and I hope this guide helps ease some of the anxiety and concern about how a DWI arrest case is handled.

If you have any questions and would like to further discuss your DWI arrest case with me, please call me at 361-882-7788 or email to schedule an appointment. I also offer video conferencing appointments for my clients who can’t make an in-person appointment.


The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and is being provided only for general informational purposes. The receiving and reviewing of this document do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and this law firm. Please do not send any confidential information to this law firm via fax, email, or telephone until the attorney-client relationship has been established.

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