Protect Your Rights with an Accomplished Houston DWI Attorney
All an arrest for DWI means is that a police officer has taken you to jail and accused you of driving while intoxicated. It is simply an accusation. There are smart things you need to do immediately to protect yourself from being wrongfully convicted of Texas DWI.
The first smart thing to do is to hire a top Houston DWI attorney to protect your rights. Our attorney is an accomplished Texas DWI lawyer who will begin protecting you by interviewing you in detail about all of the circumstances that were facing you when you were arrested. Often, people have legitimate explanations for not doing well on sobriety tests, such as nervousness, illness, injuries, or just being tired. As your lawyer, Houston DWI Attorney will investigate the scene where you were arrested and evaluate if the location was a fair location to conduct sobriety tests. Immediately, notice will be sent to the Department of Public Safety to notify them that their attempt to suspend your license will be challenged.
If you took the breath test, Our attorney will subpoena the maintenance and calibration records of the machine used to test you. Houston DWI Attorney is a certified breath test operator and maintenance technician of the breath test machine. Even if the machine is found to have been working properly, Jim Medley is one of the few Houston DWI lawyers who are very familiar with the manner with which the breath test machine attempts to measure alcohol, and he knows the errors it can make.
If your Texas DWI case ends up in a trial before a jury, a Houston DWI Attorney will use his years of experience to present a clear and understandable common sense case to your jury and explain to them why you are NOT GUILTY. Few Houston DWI lawyers both understand the science and medical considerations behind DWI investigations AND have the ability to present a compelling case to a jury. Houston DWI attorney can.
Unlawful DUI Stops in Houston
Various state laws govern the procedures police are required to use when making a DWI arrest. This includes your rights under the U.S. Constitution and state law regarding DWI stops. You can be pulled over for DWI if police have a reasonable suspicion “based on articulable facts” that activity out of the ordinary has occurred. This can include the motor vehicle operator breaking a law or engaging in driving behavior associated with intoxication, such as:
- Swerving in and out of your lane
- Reckless driving
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Other driving infractions
When building a DWI defense, one of the first aspects of the case that will be looked at is whether or not the police followed proper procedures. An unlawful police stop can be used to suppress the evidence against you, reduce your charges or dismiss your case. Hiring a qualified litigator that will aggressively protect your rights is extremely important when fighting DWI accusations.
Field Sobriety Tests: What are the police looking for?
If you have ever been arrested for a DUI you were more than likely asked to take a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. Most of my clients do take this test, and at our first meeting, they always ask me what the police were looking for during the test. I often hear “I took the test and passed it” or “I did really well.” I always find myself explaining what the police are looking for and why their evaluation of intoxication turned out differently than the client thought. Often the Standardized Field Sobriety Test is taken in view of a camera mounted in the police cruiser and a video is available to either support or undermine the officer’s opinions.
Below is a list of general signs of intoxication which frequently arise in a DUI case, some of them are included in the Standardized Field Sobriety Test used in Texas.
- Odor of alcohol;
Red, glassy or bloodshot eyes;
- Slurred, mumbled, confused or contradictory speech;
- Walk and Turn Test: cannot keep balance, starts too soon, stops walking, steps offline, the wrong number of steps and improper turn; and
- One Leg Stand Test: cannot keep balance, swaying, hopping, and putting a foot down before completion.
After a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will complete an arrest report which includes an evaluation of these signs. This arrest report, along with the video if one was made, is made available to me during the discovery process prior to your court date. The information provided in the arrest report is critical in my evaluation of your case and ultimately in the court’s decision of whether to find you guilty of a DUI.
The DWI Process
The DWI process includes both an administrative hearing to determine the status of your driving privileges, as well as a criminal case. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to schedule an administrative hearing to prevent the suspension of your license. Failure to schedule or attend the hearing will result in automatic revocation. Your criminal case will include an arraignment on charges, the posting of bail is determined by the court, a pre-trial, and a trial. Both the prosecution and your defense attorney will attend the pre-trial where the evidence and case against you are reviewed. Plea bargaining can take place during this phase of your case. If your case goes to trial, the prosecution will need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A conviction in a DWI case can have a lasting impact on your life. Depending on the facts of the case, you will be facing penalties such as:
- Community service
- Loss of driving privileges
- Vehicle impoundment
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device
You will also have a permanent criminal record that can affect your employment opportunities and professional reputation. A Houston DWI attorney should be contacted immediately if you have been charged with DWI. An experienced lawyer can explain all of your legal options and work to mitigate the charges against you.
If I am arrested for DWI, what happens next?
The legal system has a strict set of rules that govern the investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and punishment of persons charged with criminal offenses. These rules are commonly known as the rules of “criminal procedure.” For lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and other court personnel, the progression of a criminal case is natural and well understood, but I often find that my clients are unsure and confused about what to expect as their cases move forward. Below is a brief outline and summary of the steps in a typical criminal case:
- Arrest: can be made with or without a warrant;
- Initial Appearance: the defendant is informed of the nature of the charges against him, his rights under the Fifth Amendment, his right to counsel, his right to a preliminary hearing, and the conditions under which he may be released;
- Entry of Counsel;
- Preliminary Hearing: (this hearing may be waived by the defendant) the defendant may confront his accusers, a determination is made regarding whether sufficient probable cause exists to move the case forward, and, in some cases, a determination is made regarding the conditions of release through trial;
- Indictment: made by the grand jury, this is the formal written accusation of the crime which is presented to the court;
- Arraignment: This is the hearing where the defendant enters either a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges made in the indictment;
- Discovery, Pre-Trial Motions, Pre-Trial Hearing: this is the time period where the defendant’s attorney exchanges information with the prosecution relating to the charges and prepares for trial;
- Appeal: if convicted, the defendant is generally entitled to an appeal.
Again, this is a very brief outline — there is much more to be said about each step, and I will continue to add posts on the topic of criminal procedure. Because each step can be critical to the outcome of your case, it is important to consult with counsel as quickly as possible following an arrest.