November 5th, 2020 - Got Arrested for DWI: What Happens Now?

It is one of the most common offenses that we see and if you are like many of my clients, this is the first time you have ever been arrested and you are freaking out. You have a million questions: What is going to happen? Can I still drive? Am I going to end up in jail? How much is this going to cost? What if I am undocumented? I want to start by telling you to take a deep breath and relax because it is all going to be ok. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.

1. What is going to happen?

First things first, bonding out. Once you are arrested, you will go before a judge for your arraignment. At that hearing, the judge will assess a bond and outline some general bond conditions for your release. These conditions can include: no drugs or alcohol, no new offenses, interlock device (a device installed on your car so it will not operate without a clean breath sample) and random urine analysis. This is by no means an exhaustive list as a judge can order any condition he or she deems necessary to provide for the safety of community and ensure you will present yourself at court. In essence, a bond is simply a promise to appear before the court on your scheduled days. If you fail to appear, the judge can forfeit your bond and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. It is very important to maintain proper contact with your attorney and your bond company to prevent bond forfeitures.

Once out of jail, you can just wait for the court dates to start. Your attorney should be in touch with you about when your case is filed. If you gave a blood sample at the time of your arrest, it could take a little longer for your case to get filed because the District Attorney will usually want to know the results of your lab work before moving on. If your blood or breath test comes back with a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, this could affect whether you need an interlock device on your vehicle and your bond conditions could be modified at that time.

Filing of your case will also trigger court dates. In Dallas, you do not need to appear for most misdemeanor settings unless instructed by your attorney. Other counties may have different rule and require you appear for all your court dates, so again, keep in touch with your attorney.

2. Can I still drive?

This is a more complicated question that depends on a few things. One factor is if you refused or failed a breath or blood test. Another factor is how many times you have had your license suspended for alcohol related offenses. The easiest way to check if your license has been suspended and for how long is to go to the Texas Department of Public Safety website and check. The link is: https://txapps.texas.gov/txapp/txdps/dleligibility/login.do

Even if your license is suspended, you will most likely be able to apply for a Occupational Drivers License. There is a motion your attorney can file to get you approved to drive to and from work or school and necessary household errands. You will always need to keep a copy of the order with you and keep record of your driving. There will be limitations as to where, when and for how long you will be allowed drive in a 12-hour period. Make sure your attorney asks for all the counties you will need to drive to be included in the order. These are specific and if you are outside the range, the order will not be valid.

Driving while your license is invalid without a proper ODL will result in another charge and potentially another arrest.

3. Am I going to jail?

You obviously went to jail when you were arrested but now you’re out and do not want to go back. Generally speaking, no, you will not need to go back to jail. Your first DWI has a minimum of 3 days jail time and a second DWI has a minimum of 6 days. However, it is possible to use the time you did when arrested to take care of that requirement. Most jails will also offer work release, so you can do nights or weekends to cover the days.

However, unlike other types of probation, this case will not be dismissed upon completion and you will not be able to get this completely off your record. Jail might be a cheaper and easier way for you to complete your sentence.

4. How much is this going to cost?

Bad news here. Probably quite a bit. Even if you are able to hire an attorney for modest fee or use a court appointed attorney, there will still be fines and court costs which will depend on your case and how long it is pending, what kind of deal your attorney was able to negotiate and how long you spent in jail. Jail time can be used to lower your fines and court costs.

If you end up on probation, you will have to pay a monthly supervision fee that is $60 a month, unless the judge reduces that cost. Your attorney should ask for this at the time of the plea and you may be required to show proof that you cannot afford that fee. You will also have to pay a one-time fee for a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) which is around $25. There will be a 12-hour DWI class you will need to take, and the cost varies from provider to provider. There are random urinalysis tests that are $20 each time you have to take one. And should you need an occupational license, there is the cost of having that drafted up by and attorney and a filing fee of $61 (Dallas County).

Whether you are on probation or not, you will need to pay a license reinstatement fee and there is a new “super-fine” assessed by the Department of Public safety. That “super-fine” will depend on how many times you have been convicted of DWI. For example, a first offense will result in a $3,000 fine from DPS and a second offense will run you $6,000.

There are some estimates that suggest a single DWI can cost between $10,000 and $15,000, depending on the jurisdiction.

5. What if I am undocumented?

This is a complicated question because so much of your immigration case and situation is unique to you. Depending on your history and any prior contact with immigration you will be eligible for an ICE bond if you get an ICE hold in jail. Generally speaking, this will not automatically result in deportation but could place you in proceedings. It is important to make sure you consult with an immigration attorney before paying a bond or taking any kind of plea bargain to make sure you fully understand the consequences of the conviction. Or better yet, hire a defense attorney who has been handling cases with immigration consequences for several years and knows how to evaluate your situation.