State DUI Laws

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Texas DUI Laws

Got a DUI in Texas? Here is what you need to know.

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From the second you start interacting with an Officer, s/he is noting everything you say and do to use as evidence in their case against you.

  • Stay in your car and leave your seat belt on unless the Officer asks you to step out.
  • Provide identification.
    • How easily you find your driver’s license, registration and insurance will be noted on the Officer’s report.
  • You are allowed to politely refuse to take field sobriety tests (FSTS).
    • When you do field tests, you are giving evidence that can be used against you.
    • There is no law requiring you to do these tests.
    • Some officers will tell you they will take you to jail if you don’t do the tests, but the officer is going to take you to jail anyway.
  • If asked to take a Chemical Test (breath, blood or urine test) after arrest, you should do so, but should request to privately consult with an attorney before doing this.
    • When your driver’s license was issued, you agreed to take such a test if ever pulled over as stated under the Implied Consent Law. Refusal to submit to the Chemical Testing is an automatic license suspension, a fine and possible prison time depending on the number of DUIs you have gotten in the past.
  • You do not have to give consent for a police officer to search your car. They can only search without consent under the conditions that they have probable cause to believe there is contraband or drugs in the car, they have a warrant, or someone in the car is arrested.
    • Remember your words can be used against you in the case.
    • Usually, the search question is veiled and phrased like:

You don’t have a problem with me looking in your car?

You don’t mind if I look in your car, do you?

I’m just going to take a quick look inside, okay?

 

  • You can politely refuse to answer questions.
    • Usually, the officer will ask you a few questions about what you’ve had to drink.
    • A simple response of “I can only answer your questions on the advice of my attorney” can go a long way in the outcome of your case.
    • You don’t have to call an attorney right then. That simple statement effectively stops any questioning by invoking your constitutional rights.
    • Even when the officer reads Miranda rights to you, the answer should be the same.
  • After you are placed under arrest, you will be taken to jail then offered a chemical test. After completing the test, the officer may give you a form asking whether you want to preserve a sample of your test or waive a sample. Always ask that a sample be preserved.
  • As soon as the police have taken their tests, immediately make a clear request for the opportunity to obtain an independent blood draw.
    • Your attorney can explain the benefits of this simple request, as they can be huge!
  • It is not required by law to have an attorney for your case, but if you don’t have one, there is little to no chance you will get the charges reduced or waived. Judges have little patience for self-represented defendants.
  • Consult with a few private attorneys to see what the best strategy for you is.
    • There is no cost to do this and will provide insight to your options
    • A public defender may be able to help, but their efforts will be limited to the criminal side of the case and will be unable to assist you with the MVD actions that occur concurrent with the DWI. For many people, the loss of their license is one of the biggest problems that arise as a result of their DWI.
  • Request a copy of your police report at the headquarters of the department that was involved in your arrest.
    • This is not mandatory, but you will have more fruitful consultations with attorneys in developing your defense strategy.
  • Request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your DWI ticket to avoid losing your license automatically.
    • Whether you win or lose this at this hearing, you may gain helpful information that will help you with defending you case. It is recommended that you get a lawyer for the ALR hearing as well.
    • This is a strict timeline and a request for a hearing will not be accepted after the 15-day period

Arraignment: This is a formal setting in which you are informed of your charges and then must enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

  • In some counties, the Arraignment is sometimes referred to as Announcement Settings
  • Depending on what county in Texas you are arrested in, you will move on to a “No-Issue” and/or “Announcement” hearing before heading to trial or you will be scheduled for a “Pre-Trial Motion” setting.

 

Pre-Trial Court Dates: You will likely have several court appearances after your arraignment.

  • No-Issue Setting: At this hearing, your attorney will review all of the materials in the prosecutor’s case against you as well as the Police Officer’s actions and evidence.
  • Pre-Trial Motion Hearing: At this hearing, pre-trial motions are typically filed by your attorney.
  • Trial Call or Announcement: You may have this court appearance shortly before your trial to confirm that all sides are ready for trial.

 

Trial: At the trial, the prosecutor must prove you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt and this hearing has the highest burden of proof.

  • The trial typically takes about one to two days but can be longer if the charges against you are more severe.
  • Studies show if you complete your DWI penalties, you only have an 8% likelihood of getting another DWI; If you don’t complete them, you have a 28% likelihood of getting another DWI.
    • You are 3.5 times less likely to get another DWI by completing your penalties.
  • Getting through your penalties is no easy task and requires more understanding than most people have about DWIs and penalties.
  • These penalties are not created to be effortless or painless, but knowing the who, what, when and whys will make the process of getting through the penalties much better.
  • With your DWI, you will find timing is everything.
    • Starting a penalty too early or too late will cause issues and cost you valuable time and money.
    • Selecting the right providers for you will reduce these mishaps.
  • The systems administering the various penalties come from different governing bodies, and they don’t always align properly and often don’t make sense.
  • It is no secret DWIs are complicated, each one a little different than the other.
  • Comparing multiple providers and making sure they are the right one for you will be the best way in making it to the finish line.