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DWI Legal Process

If you or a loved one were arrested for driving while intoxicated in Texas, you are probably wondering what will happen next. Houston DWI defense attorney Ned Barnett can answer all of your questions. Call him today at (713) 222-6767.

The DWI legal process is the same for everyone facing this type of charge. It is important to understand that when you are arrested for a DWI, you are part of both a civil case regarding your driver’s license and a criminal case regarding the driving offense.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for a DWI, you can expect the following experience:


The police can arrest someone for a DWI if they have probable cause of intoxication. They can gain evidence of intoxication through field sobriety tests or a breath test. Signs of intoxication include impaired speech, jerky eye movements, lethargic manner, and questionable answers to their questions.

You may be arrested for a DWI in Texas even if you do not blow above the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent. Other indicators of intoxication can be enough for an arrest. However, the police may ask you to submit to further testing at the station after they obtain a warrant. The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in court.

Once you are under arrest, officers will read your rights, which include the rights to remain silent and to have an attorney. You cannot be punished for invoking these rights. You can and should request an attorney be present during any questioning. When you are given the chance to contact someone, you, a family member, or friend should call Attorney Ned Barnett.

Release on Bond

Once you have been arrested, your first thought is probably regarding how to get out of jail. You can request that you are released on a personal bond, which means you promise to appear back in court on your own accord. However, most people are required to pay a cash bail bond. This payment is a guarantee that you will come back to court. If you return and are found not guilty, you get the money back. If you do not return, the cash is forfeited.

Many people do not have enough cash on hand to pay a bail bond themselves, which is why Texas allows the use of private bondsmen. You can post a surety bond, which means the bond company puts up the fee for you, guaranteeing you will return to court. You generally put up some sort of property as collateral in exchange for the company providing the bond money for you.

When you are released, you will have a copy of your ticket with the charges against you, a receipt for your bond, and a notice of your administrative license revocation (ALR).

Case 1: The Administrative License Revocation

Most people arrested for a DWI expect the criminal case, but they don’t realize they also have to fight a civil case to keep their driver licenses. When you are arrested for a DWI, the Texas Department of Public Safety automatically puts a civil license suspension into motion. This is entirely separate from your criminal DWI case.

You need to address this civil penalty immediately. The state only gives you 15 days to request a hearing to appeal the license suspension. If you don’t ask for the hearing within this time period, you completely waive your right to contest the suspension, which goes into place 40 days after the notice of suspension. Your license will automatically be revoked for 90 days if you failed a blood or breath test. If you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, you license may be revoked for at least 180 days.

Case 2: The DWI Arraignment

In addition to addressing your ALR, you face an arraignment for your DWI. This is your first court date. You will hear the charges against you, the prosecutor’s evidence, the potential statutory penalties, and then you have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty.

In most situations, you should plead not guilty at this time to give you and your attorney more time to investigate your situation, review the prosecutor’s evidence, and build a strong defense or negotiate with the prosecutor.

Work with an Attorney

If you have not contacted an attorney yet, you should call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett for help addressing both the civil and criminal aspects of the offense. Now that you have the information about your charges and evidence, you should work with an experience defense attorney to learn your legal options, uphold your rights in court, and work to minimize the consequences of this arrest. An attorney can help you prepare for your upcoming court dates, negotiate a plea bargain, or go to trial.

Court Hearings & Trial

You may have to attend multiple hearings before your DWI trial. The purpose of each hearing may vary, and some may be for your civil license suspension as well as your criminal case. You should speak with an attorney to prepare for these court dates.

While many DWI cases settle before trial, you have the right to a jury trial in order to prove your innocence. If you intend to go to trial, you should have an experienced attorney like Ned Barnett by your side.

Call a Houston DWI Defense Attorney for Help

Mr. Barnett has decades of experience as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, and he understands the nuances of DWI trials. He is certified as a criminal lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also certified in:

  • DWI field sobriety testing
  • Operation of breath test machines
  • Gas chromatography

Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for a free consultation.