Most Frequently Asked Questions About DWI in Fort Worth

February 7, 2024 | By Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys
Most Frequently Asked Questions About DWI in Fort Worth

Being arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the Fort Worth area can be a life-altering event. Many Texans facing this charge have never been charged with a criminal offense before and have no experience dealing with the criminal DWI system. As a result, we answer many frequently asked questions (FAQs) about DWI.

If you have any questions about the DWI process in Fort Worth, our team of Fort Worth DWI lawyers can guide you through the legal process. We understand that most people have questions about their pending charges, the criminal court system, possible outcomes, and what to do next. 

In this post, we’ll answer many of the most frequently asked questions we receive from new DWI clients. Of course, every case is different, so if you have additional questions or if you would like to discuss your unique situation with a skilled Fort Worth DWI attorney, feel free to contact us anytime.

In the meantime, here are some of the most common FAQs related to DWI charges in Fort Worth and general answers we hope will give you a brief understanding of the DWI process.

What Should I Do if I Am Charged With a DWI?

Charged with a DWI

This is the number one question we receive from people who are facing a DWI charge in Fort Worth. Several important pieces of information can help you make good choices and avoid the negative consequences of a DWI conviction in Texas.  

First, you must take action to defend your DWI case immediately! If you do nothing, you will likely face a suspended driver’s license, large fines, possible imprisonment, and lost time and negotiation leverage that a skilled defense attorney could have used to improve the resolution of your DWI case.

Every DWI charge must be taken seriously because a DWI conviction could impact your life forever. Each arrest situation is different, and you may have legal defenses an experienced DWI defense lawyer could use to request a reduction or dismissal of your charges. The longer you wait to work with a legal professional, the lower your chances of a reasonable outcome become.

What is Involved in My DWI Case?

DWI cases in Texas involve two separate procedures:

  1. Suspension of your Texas driver’s license – an administrative process
  2. Prosecution of your DWI case – a criminal process

Driver’s License Suspension Procedures

Under Texas law, you only have 15 days to avoid a driver’s license suspension after a DWI arrest.

During those 15 days, you must request a hearing to keep your driver’s license from being suspended. This hearing is known as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing, which is not a criminal proceeding. 

Pursuant to Texas law, an ALR hearing is conducted in an administrative court setting.

The primary purpose of the inquiry is to determine the following two issues:

  1. Was there reasonable suspicion for the DWI traffic stop? If the police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for the traffic stop that led to your DWI arrest, your license will not be suspended under the law.
  2. Was the DWI Statutory Warning Form properly administered? Did the police administer the warning forms to you and give you an opportunity to consent to or reject a breath, blood, or urine test? If you did not consent to the test, can they prove that you had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher? These issues will affect whether your license will be suspended and for how long.

Remember, you only have 15 days to file a request for a hearing or your license will automatically be suspended starting 40 days after the date of your arrest. An experienced DWI lawyer can prepare a hearing request and extend your license suspension until an administrative judge issues a decision.

Facing DWI Criminal Charges

The state prosecutor is responsible for filing all criminal charges, including DWI offenses. If you are named as a defendant in a criminal case, your options will depend on whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor. Possible penalties include extensive fines, local jail time, or imprisonment. 

You may be eligible for probation (sometimes called deferred adjudication), where you must meet certain requirements to have the charges reduced or removed from your criminal record. To learn more about your specific options, contact a trustworthy lawyer.

What If the Arresting Officer Did Not Read Me My Rights?

When a police officer arrests someone, they read the suspect their rights before questioning them. The familiar statements come from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona and are known as Miranda Rights. The law says a criminal suspect must be advised of these rights while in custody and before being interrogated by government officials. 

Miranda rights include the right to remain silent or anything said could be used against the suspect in court or other proceedings. The suspect also has the right to an attorney during questioning. If they can’t afford one, a lawyer will be appointed. 

However, according to Texas DWI law, just being stopped for a traffic offense is not considered being in custody. So, Miranda rights do not apply at the scene of a traffic stop until the person is placed in custody. As a result, the police may legally ask if you’ve been drinking before driving and/or how much you’ve had to drink without reading your Miranda rights. 

If you are later placed under arrest, any statements you provided earlier may be used in your prosecution, so it’s best to talk with an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible and refrain from answering questions during the arrest.

What Is the Difference Between DWI and DUI Charges in Texas?

Most states have laws related to Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Texas actually has laws related to both charges, but only drivers younger than 21 years old can be charged with DUI. 

People under the age of 21 cannot legally consume alcohol in Texas. So, if a driver is under 21 and has any amount of alcohol in their blood or breath, they can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Even though a DUI charge is reserved for minors and is charged as a Class C misdemeanor, a conviction could impact their lives for a long time.

If the driver is over 21, they can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if the blood alcohol content in their system is .o8 percent or more or if they don’t have normal use of their mental or physical faculties due to consuming alcohol or using a controlled substance.

A DWI can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor up to a felony, and a conviction can carry serious penalties and repercussions for many years to come.

Do I Have to Submit to the Field Sobriety Testing?

Field sobriety tests are meant to determine if you are impaired and should not be driving a motor vehicle. These tasks are usually physical and/or mental challenges, including a one-leg stand for 30 seconds, the walk and turn test, where you must follow a straight line heel to toe and turn after so many steps, or a gaze test, which allows the officer to watch your involuntary eye movements.

The police officer wants you to perform these tests to gather evidence to support a DWI arrest. The tests are not easy, and even sober people who are nervous or scared may do poorly. Many experienced DWI lawyers argue police officers are not well-trained to administer these tests or interpret the results.

Under Texas law, you are not obligated to submit to field sobriety tests. However, your driving privileges will be immediately suspended for at least six months if you refuse to take the tests.

If you take the tests and “fail,” your license will only be suspended for 90 days if you are a first offender. However, your failed performance will be used against you in your criminal trial.

If My License Is Suspended, How Can I Work? 

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for an Occupational License allowing you to drive for employment purposes. You must follow a process to request this license, and it will be limited to specific days, hours (usually 12 hours or less), locations, and purposes allowing you to drive a personal vehicle to work, school, or perform necessary household duties.

If you have prior DWI convictions, the requirements will be more stringent. Also, you may be required to install an ignition interlocking device on your car to ensure you can’t start the vehicle if it detects any alcohol in your breath.

What are the Possible Outcomes of a Texas DWI Case?

If you are charged with DWI, the potential penalties will vary depending on several factors. Since DWI can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor up to a felony, you could face substantial fines, jail time, or imprisonment. Ask a knowledgeable DWI lawyer which penalties apply to your unique circumstances.

First-time offenders may be eligible for deferred adjudication or probation under certain circumstances. To receive probation, you must enter a guilty plea and comply with the terms of the probation as set by the court. When you have successfully completed the probation requirements, the court does not enter a guilty conviction on your record. Again, speak with a dedicated Fort Worth DWI lawyer to learn more.

How Do I Choose The Best DWI Attorney For Me?

First, what does it mean to be the best? There are many criteria to consider when hiring the best DWI lawyer in Fort Worth. If you’ve never partnered with a criminal defense attorney before, here are a few crucial aspects to consider:

How Much Experience Does the Potential DWI Attorney Have?

The Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys are a team of DWI attorneys who can work together to defend you. We are former prosecutors with over 75 years of combined experience analyzing and defending DWI cases. Each DWI attorney in our office has handled hundreds of DWI cases and has prosecuted or defended at least 75 DWI jury trials.

Also, every attorney in our office has previously worked as a prosecutor. Why does this matter? In any negotiation, knowing your opponent’s next move is critical. We know how the prosecutor on your case has been trained and what their next move will be. This is critical when negotiating your DWI because the majority of DWI cases end with a plea deal. 

The critical component of any plea deal is your defense lawyer’s ability to negotiate with the judges and prosecutors. When a defense lawyer builds a solid relationship based on professional respect with other court officials, they acquire the leverage and respect needed to better represent their clients. 

Our DWI attorneys have established relationships with the judges, the prosecutors, the probation department, and all parties involved in the DWI court process, which we use to benefit our clients.

How Much Training Does the DWI Lawyer Have?

Every DWI lawyer at Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys receives extensive and ongoing training in DWI analysis, trial tactics, suppression of evidence issues, blood and breath testing protocols, and other critical aspects of Texas DWI law that can affect the outcome of your case. We also leverage current technology and recent case law to benefit our clients every step of the way.

Does the DWI Defense Lawyer Have A Commanding Presence in Court But a Compassionate Personal Respect For You?

Finally, a DWI lawyer may be knowledgeable and experienced in a courtroom, but if they can’t communicate with you and give you the personal attention you deserve, you will not receive the best possible legal representation. 

Our firm policy is to review all available evidence with our clients. This may include police reports, DWI videos, Field Sobriety Test scoring sheets, lab reports, and other evidence. We believe it is critical that our clients are fully invested in their DWI defense. 

We were not at the scene when the police officer pulled you over. To provide the best defense, we need your perspective and recollection of what happened. Our mission is to answer all your questions so that you are informed and know what to expect with your legal defense moving forward.

Beyond These DWI FAQs, If You Need to Know More About a Texas DWI Charge, Reach Out to Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys

After successfully handling hundreds of Texas DWI cases, the Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys team knows no two cases are alike. We understand Texas DWI law and how it will apply to your situation. We’ve only scratched the surface with these Driving While Intoxicated FAQs, so feel free to reach out with any questions we didn’t answer here.  

There’s no time to waste when facing a DWI charge in Texas. Contact our skilled team of DWI attorneys at (817) 877-3030 or fill out our online contact form today.

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