The holiday season tends to be filled with celebrations and festivities, many of which provide alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, those who climb behind the wheel after imbibing may be pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In Texas, a DWI conviction can negatively impact your life in several ways, in the form of expensive fines, license suspensions, or even jail time. If you’re facing DWI charges in Pearland or Brazoria County, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and concerned about what happens next. The most important step you can take is to contact an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney who can assess your case and help you determine the most strategic path forward. In fact, law enforcement may have violated your constitutional rights during the arrest process, so it’s essential to work with an attorney who will defend your freedom and future. Let’s explore what to expect when Texas law enforcement arrests you for driving while intoxicated and the steps you can take to seek the best outcome possible, given the specifics of your case.
How a DWI Charge Typically Begins
Many DWI charges start with an officer pulling a car over for a minor infraction. For instance, a law enforcement officer may pull you over if you are traveling along a road at night with a broken taillight or fail to signal properly when changing lanes. However, when you roll down the window to speak with the officer, they may smell alcohol or see your hands shaking as you try to locate your license and registration to show the officer. Even if your trembling has to do with being nervous in this highly unusual situation, the officer may interpret it as an indication of intoxication. They may ask you if you have been drinking and ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform sobriety tests. Next, they could request that you take a breath test. Naturally, you may wonder whether you are required by law to comply. Next thing you know, you are facing DWI charges and understandably anxious about what will happen to you.
Navigating the Booking Process
Once law enforcement has taken you to the station, they will seek a breath or blood sample to measure your level of intoxication. It’s essential to recognize that you have the right to refuse these tests, but doing so may lead to additional legal consequences. Law enforcement may release you if the test does not show you are intoxicated. However, refusing to submit to a test or obtaining results confirming your intoxication will certainly result in you being booked into jail. During the booking process, you will be required to provide personal information and go through fingerprinting to determine whether there are outstanding warrants or previous convictions. Your primary concern is likely your freedom, so it’s helpful to understand that the court will assess your case and set your bail. Although there is no set bail amount in DWI cases, most first-time offenders could be asked to post bond in the amount of up to several thousand dollars to be released from jail while they await trial.
Understanding Your Miranda Rights
Texas law enforcement officers may inform you of your Miranda rights, including your right to remain silent and your right to seek legal counsel. While you must cooperate with police officers when they request personal information (i.e., your name, address, date of birth, etc.), you do not have to answer questions about your alleged intoxication. Law enforcement may claim to be “on your side” as they ask you to provide “your side of the story.” However, these tactics are usually aimed at getting you to confess your guilt. Any statements you make during your arrest may be used to build a case against you, so be extremely cautious in the words you use when speaking with them. If an officer pressures you to answer questions about the arrest or how much you drank the night of your DWI arrest, you have a right to remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney before submitting to any questioning.
Administrative and Criminal Consequences for DWIs in Texas
DWI convictions carry both administrative and criminal consequences. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may face a driver’s license suspension or be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Those convicted of a misdemeanor DWI offense could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Repeat offenders can expect more serious consequences, including felony charges that carry a two to ten-year prison sentence and fines of up to $10,000. Whether you are facing your first DWI arrest or you have previous convictions on your record, contact a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your options. Together, you can identify the most strategic course of action to keep your future as bright as possible.
Reach out to Keith G. Allen, PLLC, by calling (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and knowledgeable Pearland criminal defense attorney.