Dallas DWI Process
It all starts with you’re out, maybe late at night, with some friends. Perhaps you’ve had a couple drinks, and you may be a little tipsy or about to get there. You decide to leave, so you drive away. The entire time you’re unaware of the smoke you smell like, the beer that’s been spilt on you, and the other un-describable odors a bar emits. You start your drive home and all of a sudden you realize you’re being pulled over. The lights blind you with flashes of red, blue and white, while confusion erupts into your brain in determining what traffic infraction you may have committed. You pull over into a safe location and immediately feel the intensity of the situation. It seems to take hours, but in only a few seconds or minutes the officer walks up and asks you to present your license and registration. At that time, the officer generally tells you what infraction you committed and asks you where or what you were doing. The officer may ask you if you’ve been drinking. The officer then asks you to step out of the vehicle. Now you’re nerves are going crazy with thoughts running in your head and a feel of disbelief that has completely overcome you. Am I going to jail?! Am I going to have to do the tests I’ve seen on TV? What’s going to happen to my car? Who’s going to take my dog out? These are all common questions and concerns that someone being accused of DWI faces.
Field Sobriety Testing
Another article on Field Sobriety Testing that can be found here. However, the officer will generally ask you to perform three tests. The officer may or may not ask you to perform others, but the three tests in our article are the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Keep in mind that you have an absolute right to refuse to do any of these tests or “exercises”. After this point, the officer may ask you to give a breath sample using a portable breath test. This is also optional and is generally not admissible in court, but the fact that it detected alcohol may be.
Implied Consent/Read Statutory Warnings
The police officer has concluded that probable cause exists to arrest you, so now the officer will read you your statutory warnings. Before we speak about that, we must tell you that Texas has an implied consent law. It basically says that if a police officer has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated, then you have impliedly granted (by accepting the privilege of having a driver’s license) them permission to take a breath or blood sample to determine so. However, the statutory warnings provide that if you don’t give a breath or blood sample (or give one above the legal limit) your driver’s license will be suspended. The length of time a regular Texas driver’s license is suspended can be up to 2 years—depending on the facts of your refusal or results.
Dallas County Jail
If you are arrested in the City of Dallas, the officer will almost always take you to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center. Upon arrival, you may be taken to what’s known as the “intoxilyzer room” or the “intox room”. You will notice horizontal and vertical lines throughout the room. Keep in mind, everything you do or say in the room is recorded and the lines are there to provide evidence against you. The lines help show if you’re swaying side-to-side or front-to-back. Although this would be the ideal environment for police officer’s to ask you to perform the field sobriety “exercises”, normally they will not. Also, inside the intox room is where you will give a breath sample if you agreed to do so.
After the intox room, you will be booked in and taken to what is commonly referred to as the “drunk tank”. Basically, this is a jail cell that is housing a majority of the intoxicated individuals arrested. There may be other individuals in that cell and they may have committed different offenses. However, the vast majority of my clients say the most common offenses were for public intoxication and dwi. Normally, within 48 hours of arriving in Lew Sterrett, you will be taken to a magistrate (a judge) to determine if probable cause existed for your arrest, whether bail should be allowed, and what your bail amount should be. After that point, you can pay your bail, have an attorney bail you out, or have a bail bondsman bail you out.
Getting Out of Jail
When you first get out, there are generally numerous questions flying through your head. First, what are all the papers I’ve received? Normally speaking, you will receive a DIC-25. This is the form you will use as a temporary driving permit if your breath or blood sample was over the legal limit. It is also the paperwork you receive if you refused to submit a sample. You will also receive an inventory sheet. This contains a list of all the property that was received when you entered the jail; as well as all the property you left jail with. You will also receive a court date that states what you have been charged with too. This is an essential piece, so please make sure you hang on to it. Normally speaking, your initial court date will be about a month from when you were arrested.
The second question most people ask is where is my car. If you were arrested in the City of Dallas and your car was towed, your car is at the Dallas Auto Pound. It is located at 1955 Vilbig Dallas, TX. It is only a few blocks from Lew Sterrett, so it is normally best to go there immediately after you’ve been released.
The third question most people ask is how much trouble they are in. In Texas, a first DWI offense is generally a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. This is why hiring a good attorney is the most important decision you can make after your arrest. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected] or visit my website at http://www.jpnoriegalaw.com.