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The Court Process

How DWI cases make their way through the system.

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The Timeline of a DWI Case

Tad Nelson & Associates provides aggressive representation at every stage of your criminal case. The DWI court process is extensive and Tad Nelson & Associates can help guide you through it. Here you will find a timeline on what to expect at each stage of the DWI criminal case.

  • Stage 1

    The Arrest

    The first stage of the DWI process is the arrest. The police must have probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated before they can make an arrest and conduct a breathalyzer test. Please remember that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. After the arrest process, a DWI suspect is usually taken into police custody and is entered and processed in the criminal system. The person arrested is then allowed to post bail either by putting up the full bail amount as set by the court, or through a bonding agency.

  • Stage 2


    Once The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates are retained as your law firm, we take an aggressive stance to defend your case. Do not speak to any authority regarding your case without your lawyer present.

    We advise all clients to remain silent regarding their suspected criminal involvement when contacted by law enforcement, media, or any other source. It is natural to believe that you can convince someone of your innocence or talk your way out of the situation.

    Stress, exhaustion, and pressure will prevail. In most cases, speaking directly with law enforcement agents will hinder your ability to present the best possible defense. Law enforcement and other agencies might contact you during this time. Please remember this advice and know that it is in your best interest to remain silent.

    The defendant makes his first court appearance at Arraignment where he or she is told of the charges being brought against him or her. The defendant is also notified of his rights under the law, and can choose to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is key to have hired an attorney before arraignment to ensure that you are advised of your rights and fully represented.

  • Stage 3

    Court Date and Discovery

    Throughout the court process the government will be conducting their investigation. During the discovery process, the government will turn over all evidence and findings to the defense attorney. Once the defendant’s attorney has possession of the files, the attorney can examine and determine if any procedural violations exist. Such violations that can be discovered can be similar to the following: the arresting officer lacking probable cause or proper instructions were not given during the Field Sobriety Tests or while operating the Breathalyzer machine.

    It is not uncommon for various issues to be discovered. It is important to obtain all documents related to the case in order to decide if expert testimony is necessary at trial. The defendant will have multiple court dates during this time. While it is understandable to want this ordeal to end, it might actually be more beneficial to have numerous court dates. With each court date, Tad Nelson and his associates are able to fully investigate the facts and all relevant legal issues surrounding the case.

  • Stage 4

    Plea Bargain, Case Dismissal, or Trial

    After the discovery process, the possibility exists that any time prior to trial the case can be resolved through a plea bargain between the State and the defendant. In a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge such as reckless driving or an open container violation, in exchange for a more lenient sentence or so that certain related charges are dismissed.

    If a plea agreement cannot be reached, the trial begins in the court the defendant was charged in. In a criminal trial, a jury examines the evidence to decide whether the defendant committed the crime in question. After the government and the defense have presented their arguments, the jury must decide if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or not guilty of the crime charged.

    If a person is convicted for DWI-whether through a plea or jury verdict-the appropriate legal punishment is determined. The judge will consider punishments according to the Penal Code statues as well as factors specific to the case such as the defendant’s criminal history and impact of the DWI on any victims. A person convicted of a DWI is subject to various punishments, including:

    • Payment of fines
    • Probation
    • Suspension of Driver’s License
    • Community Service
    • Drug/Alcohol Counseling and Rehabilitation
    • Incarceration in Jail/Prison