When you look at all the things that have to be done when defending a DWI charge, it is mind boggling that a first offense is only a Class B Misdemeanor. That is only one step above a fine only ticket. Still, from the time you walk out of jail on bond there are important steps to take and there are deadlines to meet.
- Because big things happen fast, your very first step should be to hire a good local attorney. If you know a good defense attorney that works in the county your charge will be filed in, great. If not, a referral from someone who has had a good experience with a local defense attorney is a great way to find a lawyer. If you are completely in the dark about how to find a good local defense attorney you can turn to AVVO.com. AVVO rates lawyers and takes input from former clients to help people find the lawyer that is right for them. If you look at the reviews of products before you buy them, you will like looking at the AVVO reviews for attorneys.
- Protect your driving privilege. Once you have a local defense attorney retained who is experienced in defending a DWI charge, that attorney should get to work on your driving privilege. Odds are when you were arrested for DWI the police requested a specimen of your breath or blood. If you refused to provide a specimen the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will quickly move to suspend your license by way of an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). This is true even if you refused and the police got a sample anyway by warrant. If you took the breath test and failed, the DPS will be acting to suspend your license. If you consented to a blood test, you do not have a license problem yet because, there is no test result yet. Your attorney must request an ALR Appeal of your license suspension within 15 days of the refusal or failure. If no appeal is started, your license will be suspended effective 40 days from the date of the refusal or failure. If the appeal is timely filed, you will be eligible to drive until the appeal is decided by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
- Start gathering information for your defense. In defending a DWI charge, your attorney should begin gathering information about the facts of your case day 1. The police must publicly file a Probable Cause Affidavit (PCA) in order to demonstrate that your arrest was legal. Probable Cause Affidavits are subject to the Public Information Act (PIA). Therefore, your attorney should request the PCA from the police agency immediately so that he can start to evaluate the case against you. Recent changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure now require police agencies to turn over DWI videos to the persons they have arrested for DWI upon request. This is not a Public Information Act Request but, many agencies treat them as such because they already have procedures in place to deal with such requests. Finally, your attorney, while defending a DWI charge, should request discovery through the driver’s license suspension appeal process mentioned above. Full police reports and more can be gained in the ALR process. If you hired the right lawyer, you can have full police reports, a video of your stop and a Probable Cause Affidavit all before your case is ever filed in court.
- Get the labs. In cases where a blood sample has been taken there will be a delay while the chosen laboratory tests the blood for blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The laboratory will share that result with your attorney once they have it. You can know what your BAC is before your DWI charge is filed in Court. Unlike breath, blood can be independently tested by the defense for BAC. We often talk of “re-testing” blood but, that isn’t what happens. There are to vials in the standard Department of Public Safety blood draw kit. The person (a phlebotomist) that draws your blood will fill two vials with your blood. The first vile is for the State the second vial is for the defense. If the result of the State test is close one of our legal line, 0.08 or 0.15, a defense test can change your case for the better.
- Put all the discovery together. At this point in defending a DWI charge you have a Probable Cause Affidavit, written police reports from the ALR Hearing, and a BAC. You know a great deal about the case against you and haven’t even gotten discovery from the prosecutor’s office yet. Now you can get started on a defense. Will you be doing your own blood testing? A blood test under the limit can be a game changer. Did the reports indicate that the stop of your vehicle might not have been legal? If the police violated any laws while stopping your vehicle, detaining you at the side of the road for investigation or in arresting you, you have cause to get the evidence obtained against you suppressed. If the prosecutors lose all their evidence to suppression, you go free. However, if you stated, “take me to drunk officer I’m jail” just before vomiting on the officer’s shoes, you’ll want to work on winning punishment.
Contact the Peugh Law Firm
While Driving While Intoxicated may seem like a minor offense, the possible penalties show that the state of Texas considers it to be a serious crime. You could lose your driving privilege for months or years. You may also be fined thousands of dollars reinstate and keep your driving privilege. All levels of DWI can carry jail time as a punishment. All DWI’s can be enhanced for life, making a subsequent DWI a higher level offense no matter how long ago the first DWI occurred. A third DWI allegation in a Third Degree Felony. That can result in becoming a convicted felon, loss of rights and prison time. Because of these potential consequences, even if you have been charged with one of the less serious DWI charges you should immediately contact a Denton DWI attorney who has experience defending a DWI charge. The staff at the The Peugh Law Firm has years of experience successfully defending clients in Denton County criminal courts who have been accused of Driving While Intoxicated. Contact us at (940) 566-0271 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.