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Understanding a DWI Arrest and Trial in Texas

The moment a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of intoxication can change your life forever. From a suspended license to fines up to $10,000 to jail time, DWIs are not something to take lightly. But what happens after you are arrested for DWI and what are your options? Knowing what lies ahead can help you make an informed plan for dealing with a DWI arrest.

Determining Intoxication

In order to pull over a driver for DWI, a police officer must have probable cause. Of course, that term can be vague and easily disputed in court, but if you were pulled over it is likely because the officer saw something that he/she construed as a sign of driving while intoxicated.

From there, the officer has several ways to determine if you met the legal definition of intoxication: (a) not having the normal use of mental faculties; (b) not having normal use of physical faculties; or (3) having a blood/ alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater. They will likely interview you and conduct a recorded field sobriety test which is admissible in court. (I would argue that this test is imperfect, as I have seen many drivers who simply struggled with walking on a graveled road in high heels, for example.)

They may also ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Many people are of the belief that refusing the test will prevent their arrest. This is patently untrue. In fact, refusing the breathalyzer can bring additional penalties if you are arrested. (Interesting fact: breathalyzer machines have occasionally been known to give inaccurate readings due to common medical conditions like GERD or a hiatal hernia.)

Additionally, even if your blood-alcohol level is below 0.08, you can still be arrested for DWI if the officer feels that you do not have “normal” use of your physical and mental faculties. There may also be a blood draw with a warrant, but a good lawyer will know how to fight involuntary blood draws in some situations.


If the officer feels that you did not provide sufficient evidence that you are not intoxicated, they can immediately suspend your license and make an arrest. You will be taken to jail and likely released on bail. From this point, you have only 15 days from the day of your arrest to fight for an appeal.

If you appeal, you will have what is called an ALR hearing where you and your lawyer can state your appeal. If your appeal is denied, as most are, your lawyer may be able to help you obtain an Occupational Drivers License so that you make still commute to your job while awaiting your trial.

Navigating Your Criminal Case

A good attorney will help you navigate the murky waters leading up to your trial date which can include several court appearances. Your best shot at a favorable outcome is through a criminal trial, where a qualified lawyer can look at some of the mitigating factors we touched on earlier and argue your case. In many cases, things are not always as they appear. I would say that the majority of people who go to trial have a winnable case, provided they have hired a knowledge and dedicated attorney.

The end result here can go three ways: a not-guilty verdict, in which your arrest is removed from your record and you are free to continue with your life as it was before, a dismissal, or a guilty conviction, which will result in fees that typically range from $1000 to $10,000, possible jail time and an criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life, impacting everything from future arrests to job applications.

If you have been arrested for a DWI, you are likely very concerned about the impact it will have on your freedom, your finances, your job, your future and even your relationships with those around you. As an experienced attorney, you can turn to me to help you lessen this stress by giving you strong, reliable legal counsel that you can trust and advice that will take some of the sting out of the criminal process.

Please call me as soon as possible so that we can begin working on your case today.


Criminal Defense Attorney Shane Lewis | 800 N. Fielder, Suite 500, Arlington, Texas 76012 | P: (817) 877-1500 | F: (817) 877-1503