Arrested for DWI. What’s next?

People often know that when someone is pulled over for drunk driving, the police conduct field sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line or breathing into a Breathalyzer machine. Though many people are aware of these steps in the arrest process, the same people may not be aware of what happens next.

What Happens After Being Arrested For Drunk Driving?

People who are arrested for a DWI for the first time probably don’t know what to expect after a DWI arrest. In Texas, several steps follow the initial arrest, including

  1. Taken to the police station — Once someone’s arrested for driving while intoxicated or DWI or DUI, you will be taken to the police station for processing.
  2. Booking, fingerprints, and photo — At the station, your personal information will be recorded and you will be fingerprinted and photographed as part of your arrest processing.
  3. Setting and posting bail or bond — A magistrate judge will determine if you are eligible for bail based on your history and how serious this incident was. The magistrate judge will then set the amount. If you can pay cash or post some type of collateral, you should be able to go home. The cash or collateral is set to ensure you appear in court at your appointed court hearing. If you are undocumented, ICE could put a Hold on your release, this would mean that if you pay the bond, you will be released to ICE. Is important you seek legal advice from an experienced Criminal & Immigration attorney to discuss the potential outcome before paying the bond.
  4. Initial Appearance — The first appearance in court and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You must appear for the arraignment; however, sometimes your lawyer can appear for you.
  5. Announcement settings — Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor and try to dismiss charges or a reduced sentence in a plea deal.
  6. Discovery: During this stage, the prosecution will share all the evidence against the defendant with the defense counsel, including, blood test results, dash or body cam footage, police reports, witness statements, and more.
  7. Plea or trial setting— This hearing occurs if you have entered a not guilty plea at your initial appearance. At this hearing, a determination will be made about if the case, either a plea will be entered or the case will go to trial. Also, the judge can dismiss the case.
  8. Jury trial — This includes jury selection, opening, and closing statements, witnesses, evidence, and jury deliberation.
  9. Sentencing — The judge will determine sentencing which may include license revocation, jail time, fines, impoundment of your vehicle, classes and treatment programs, and ignition interlock device

Penalties for a First-Time DWI

In addition to fines and jail time, a DWI arrest can result in other consequences such as

  • Impoundment of your vehicle or license plates
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Driving restrictions such as being able to drive to work only
  • The requirement to participate in a substance abuse counseling program
  • Community service hours
  • Placement of ignition interlock device on your steering wheel
  • Immigration consequences

An experienced attorney is your best defense when facing drunk driving charges.

Finding a DWI Attorney

It is advisable to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if you have been assigned a state-appointed attorney, our experienced DWI attorneys can advise you on the next steps to take. After the arrest, you will not only have to deal with criminal penalties but also with problems with your license. Our criminal defense attorneys will be able to guide you through the court process and help you keep your record clean. Contact us today for a free consultation with our expert DWI attorneys.

Can I Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test if I Have Been Pulled Over on Suspicion of Drunk Driving?

When the police officer makes a traffic stop and suspects that you may be impaired, they may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests and a breath test. The standardized field sobriety tests are supposed to look for signs the driver is under the influence of alcohol and unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. Field sobriety testing may include

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test
  • One-leg-stand test
  • walk-and-turn test

A breath test device gives a preliminary blood alcohol content (BAC) estimate, to determine if you may be over the legal limit. The results of the Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests will be recorded in the police report and can be used to give law enforcement the probable cause to make an arrest.

You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and a roadside breathalyzer. Refusing these tests cannot be held against you, even if the police make it seem it will. These tests can often be inaccurate, but law enforcement officers can still make an arrest with or without field testing.

Once arrested, if the driver does not give consent to blood testing, a warrant will be issued and the police will get a blood sample to test the driver’s blood alcohol content. These blood draws are generally conducted at the police station or at a local hospital and then sent to the District Attorney’s lab for testing. This test evidence can be used against you in court.

If you refuse to give a breath or blood sample after your arrest, you may face penalties, including license revocation and suspension, even if you are sober.

Penalties for a First-Time DWI

Each drunk driving case is unique, with different penalties, even for a first-offender. In most cases, a non-injury drunk driving conviction could result in

  • A minimum number of days in jail
  • Fines and court fees
  • Probation
  • An ignition interlock device (IID)
  • A restricted license
  • A suspended license
  • Attending an alcohol treatment program

What Are the Penalties for a Drunk Driving Conviction if Another Person Is Injured or Killed?

The criminal charges for a serious injury DUI or fatal drunk driving accident are elevated to felony drunk driving offenses. As a felony, a conviction carries harsher penalties, which could include months or years in prison. If a person is killed during the incident, you could be charged with felony manslaughter, which could mean a life sentence in prison.

Jail Time and Fines – Texas DWI Convictions

The minimum and maximum jail time and fines you’ll face for a DWI conviction in Texas primarily depend on how many prior convictions you have or the amount of alcohol you had in your blood. Here are the possible jail sentences and fines for a first, second, and third DWI conviction.

 1st offense2nd offense3rd offense
ChargeClass B MisdemeanorClass A MisdemeanorState Jail Felony
Jail TimeUp to 6 months in jail
(1-year maximum for
drivers with a BAC of .15%
or more)
Up to 1 year in jail2 to 10 years in jail
FinesNot to exceed $2,000 (or
$6,000 for drivers with a
BAC of .15% or more)
Not to exceed $4,000Fine not to exceed $10,000

In some states, there’s a “wash-out” (or “look-back”) period for DWI/DUI, and the drunk driving convictions that are older than the wash-out period don’t count as priors. However, Texas doesn’t have a wash-out period for DWIs—meaning a DWI conviction stays on your record and counts as a prior conviction forever.

License Suspensions for a Texas DWI

All Texas drivers who are convicted of a DWI face license suspension. The possible suspension periods for a first, second, and third DWI are as follows.

Suspension Period

1st offense2nd offense3rd offense
90 days to 1 year180 days to 2 years180 days to 2 years

Most offenders will be eligible for an “occupational license” for driving to and from places like work and school during at least part of the suspension.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Our DWI Attorneys

Remember that an arrest does not mean that you are guilty, it is only the beginning of the case, there are many possible defenses for these types of cases. We have successfully represented thousands of DWI cases in the state of Texas and we have the necessary resources and tools to protect your rights.

That’s why you need an experienced DWI attorney to represent you, weigh in all the evidence, and defend your rights. Our criminal defense team is comprised of former state and federal prosecutors, judges, and experienced attorneys who have successfully handled over 1,000s of DWI and DUI cases.

In case of any arrest call us at 855-900-3429 or reach us online immediately for a free consultation, with or without papers we defend your rights. We look forward to hearing from you!

*The information on this blog is for advertisement and general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be considered legal advice for any individual case or situation. The verdicts, case results, and settlements shown on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Manuel Diaz Law Firm, PC., these listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other cases or claims.