In the state of Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. The duration depends on the type of charge the driver gets, the particular details of the case, and the person’s defense.
Going through every step of the process can give one a good picture of how long it can all take. From the arrest up until the punishment, here is what people can expect in a DWI case.
The DWI Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. The Arrest and Bond
Every DWI case starts with an arrest. A police officer pulls someone over when they break a traffic law and discover that they are intoxicated upon administering one of their three field sobriety tests.
If a person fails the test, the officers take them to the nearby police station or jail, depending on the county where the situation takes place. In most cases, the driver has the right to post a bond and get released. How much money they have to pay will depend on their criminal history and whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Usually, there is a condition that comes with the bail. Most times, it involves placing an ignition interlock device on the person’s vehicle.
2. Filing of the DWI Case
Only a small percentage of DWI cases get dismissed by the district attorney’s office. The vast majority of people are charged and prosecuted. It usually takes up to 40 days from the day of the arrest before the office files the case and issues a court date.
If the charge is a misdemeanor (which is usually the case for first-time offenders), the case takes approximately a few months. On the other hand, if the charge is a felony, the proceedings last much longer, as the case has to go before a grand jury.
3. Court Proceedings
When the offender gets to have their first appearance in court depends on the court’s caseload. It can take anywhere from a month to six months, although such long waiting periods are rare.
At the first hearing, the defendant introduces their defense to the judge. Then, the court will schedule an announcement setting — up to 30 days after the first hearing. This break will give the attorney enough time to receive all the evidence and go over it with their client.
The next step is entirely up to the defense. The defendant can enter a plea, choose to proceed to trial, or their DUI lawyers can try to get the case dismissed. The latter is only possible if there are obvious flaws in the case, but that doesn’t happen often.
If one decides to plead guilty, the judge will schedule a plea setting. In this setting, the offender arranges all the terms of the deal. That includes paying fines and court costs and arranging probation/sentence serving. In most cases, the plea setting takes place around a month after the announcement setting.
However, if the defense decides to plead not guilty, the case proceeds to trial. That complicates matters, as setting a trial date isn’t easy. Defendants can wait up to 6 months before the trial can begin, as everything is determined by the court and whether they have available trial slots.
A trial can take between 4 and 16 months, depending on the facts of the case. Important factors include where the arrest took place, how serious the charge is (1st/2nd offense or a felony), whether there are any witnesses, and etc.
How long does a DWI stay on a driving record in Texas? If the court finds the defendant not guilty, the person has the right to ask for the expunction of their record. In other words, the court and police have to erase any information about the arrest and charge from their databases and the person’s record. The process usually takes about a month, based on the speed of the police station and the court in question.
On the other hand, the court may find the person guilty. In such a case, the judge or the jury makes the decision about the punishment. The punishment usually involves fines and probation for misdemeanors. Felony cases often end with jail time.
To Sum Up
In Texas, a DWI case can last anywhere between 6 to 18 months. The duration depends on whether the case ends with a plea deal or a trial and on the seriousness of the offense. The punishment for a guilty verdict is paying fines and probation or jail time.
If you want to know how to win a DWI case in Texas, you will be needing a really good lawyer.