DWIs make up about half of my caseload—and more than half of my trials. In fact, drinking and driving cases go to trial more often than any other offense in the State of Texas. The main reason for this is that a plea to a DWI will result in a conviction, and this conviction will always be on your criminal record. Most criminal cases in the State of Texas allow for a deferred probation, which means you are never convicted for that offense as long as you successfully complete your probation. Unfortunately, deferred is not an option in a drunk driving case. This leaves clients with little incentive to plea to a DWI. In most cases, the worst punishment the client is facing if he loses his DWI trial is a conviction and probation—which is usually what the State was offering before the trial. Obviously whether or not to go to trial is a case-specific and very personal decision, but in the vast majority of DWIs you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking your case to trial.
In almost every drinking and driving case (with the rare exception of the person who takes a breath test that results in a score under .08 and no further testing is done), the officer will take your driver's license and provide you with a temporary license that expires in forty days. He can do this because Texas has what is called an "implied consent" law. This means that, when you apply for a driver's license from the State, you automatically agree to provide a specimen of breath or blood if you are arrested for drunk driving. If you refuse to provide the specimen, the State has the right to revoke your driver's license. Although the officer will tell you that this license suspension is automatic, this is not true.
Texas law allows you to request a hearing in which you can attempt to prevent your license suspension. This hearing is called an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. You have only fifteen days from the day you were arrested to request this hearing. If you do not request an ALR hearing within fifteen days, your license will automatically be suspended. If you do request the hearing, on the other hand, your driving privileges remain in place until the hearing is held. If you are successful at this hearing, there is no license suspension. Although there is some value in winning the hearing and keeping your license, the real value is the opportunity to cross-examine your arresting officer before a prosecutor has had the chance to prepare him for trial. He will testify differently at his ALR hearing than at the DWI trial. Depending of the degree of the inconsistencies, these differences in sworn testimony can do serious damage to his credibility at trial. I often gain valuable information at ALR hearings—information that can allow me to defeat your DWI case before it even gets to trial.
If you lose your ALR hearing or fail to request one, I can, in most cases, get you an occupational driver's license (ODL) that allows you to drive up to twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Although it is called an "occupational" license, it is not just for getting to and from work. Your ODL also allows you to drive your kids to school, go to the grocery store, drive to church, and tend to other necessary personal business.
People often tell me that another attorney has told them their case is not worth fighting—either because they took the breath test, because their video looks terrible, or other facts related to their case that will make it more challenging to convince a jury that you are Not Guilty. There are many different ways to win a DWI or DUI case; being found Not Guilty by a jury is just one of them. For example, just because you took a breath test does not mean that score will be admissible at trial. I scrutinize every aspect of a DWI, including the breath-testing procedures. If I find a defect in those procedures, I will file a Motion to Suppress, arguing that the proper protocols required for conducting a valid breath test were not met. If the judge grants this motion, the State is left with a weaker case—and we are left with a much stronger one. Another common example is when I am able to convince the judge that the underlying traffic stop was illegal, which means the DWI search and arrest was illegal and the case must be dismissed. These are just two creative ways to win a DWI before it ever gets to a jury. I routinely fight and win difficult DWI cases in Dallas County and Collin County.
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