For those who have never gotten one, a DWI may sound like nothing serious – certainly nothing to ruin a weekend. Those who have been unfortunate enough to be charged with driving while intoxicated know better. Being arrested for drunk driving – or worse, for causing an accident or injury while driving drunk – can ruin not only your weekend, but several weekends to come.
The Arrest & Hearing Process
Contrary to popular belief, being arrested is also not a quick process. Most DWI arrests in Houston and Brazoria County happen when a police officer notices a car moving erratically – suspecting that the driver may be intoxicated. If their suspicions are furthered, it is within that officer’s purview to order the person out of the car and to engage in sobriety tests – most often with a Personal Breath Testing device, but the tests may also include walking in a straight line or attempting coordination tasks like touching one’s nose with one’s hand. Conversely, if you are in an accident and police arrive on the scene afterward, it is standard procedure to determine the intoxication level of any drivers involved.
Whether you make bail or serve the full term (under Texas state law, you may be held for up to 48 hours before seeing a magistrate or getting a chance to post bail, though it can happen as quickly as eight hours), you will be assigned a hearing date. Unless you caused serious bodily injury or death, or you had a minor child in the car with you, most DWIs are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Still, there are significant consequences that a judge may impose on you, even if the offense is only classed as a misdemeanor.
Many Weekends Ruined
What many are not aware of, at least in Texas, is that the matter is not decided by one court appearance, or even by two or three. In any given year, less than ten percent of criminal cases in Texas go to trial, but even if no trial occurs there are multiple hearings for pretrial business – hearing motions, submitting evidence, and the like, all of which you as the defendant must be present for. The parade of court appearances can be extremely frustrating and intimidating for many defendants, and can sometimes even trigger a guilty plea just to have the process over and done with.
However, a guilty plea ensures two big problems that may come up in the future: the possibility of extended probation or jail time, and the existence of a DWI on one’s permanent record. Depending on the severity of the offense, your driving privileges may also be restricted for the foreseeable future. Having carefree weekends with your friends may be a thing of the past.
A DWI Attorney Can Help
Being charged with DWI in Brazoria County can be frightening and overwhelming, and depending on the facts, you may wind up in a difficult position for some time. However, the assistance of an experienced drunk driving attorney can make a difference. The dedicated Houston DWI lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates understand the process and will help guide you through as best we can. To make an appointment, contact us via phone at 409-765-5614.