Essential Information in a Texas and Harris County DWI Case

Posting a bond

If you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the first thing you will want to do is post a bond. In Harris County, many defendants will be awarded what is known as a “pre-trial” bond, meaning they will not have to pay any cash out of pocket. But many defendants in Harris County and other counties will have to post their own bond. Before posting a bond, a defendant will have his bond amount “set” by a judge. The amounts can vary depending on the facts of the case, a defendant’s criminal history, and other factors, but most bonds are usually between $500-5000.

There are two ways a defendant can post a bond, either posting the entire amount himself or hiring a bail bondsman to post the bond for a fee (usually at least 10%). The advantage of posting a bond is that the defendant will get the entire amount returned at end of the case and will not have to report periodically to a bondsman (who wants to be sure the defendant has not absconded). In Harris County, if you wish to post a bond, that can be done at 49 San Jacinto (known as the Harris County “Bail Bond Window”). But to save money upfront, many defendants choose to work with a bondsman. It is usually a good idea to shop around and compare the fees are requirements each bondsman may have.

What is next after bonding out?

DWIs take many months to resolve and investigate properly so after you bond out you do not need to panic. Generally, the only truly time-sensitive matter relates to a potential hearing against your driver’s license, known as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing.

What is an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing?

If you are arrested for DWI in Texas, there is a high probability that you have a separate hearing against your driver’s license (or against your ability to obtain a license, if you do not have one). After being arrested for DWI, a defendant will be asked to give a specimen of breath or blood. A refusal is subject to a driver’s license suspension of 180 days. A result over .08 (aka a “failure”) is subject to a lower suspension of 90 days. If the officer asked you to give blood (not breath) and you agreed, you may have an ALR case against you in the future, but not until the results come back higher than .08 (you may receive notices in the mail from DPS so you should be sure that your address is current).

By law, you have 15 days from the date of your arrest to make a hearing to fight the suspension of your driver’s license. Do not miss this deadline! DWI attorneys know the best way to make the request (and will often combine it with a request for evidence), but if you are anywhere near the 15-day deadline, you should make the request yourself. The easiest way to make a request is by calling the State Office of Administrative Hearings at 1-800-394-9913. You will be asked to provide your driver’s license number and asked whether you want an in-person or telephonic hearing. Ceja Law Firm advises its clients to request an in-person hearing.

These hearings take place in a separate court, with a separate prosecutor and a separate judge and they do not directly affect your criminal case. Unlike your criminal case, you do not attend the ALR hearing. However, a smart DWI lawyer will use the hearing as an opportunity to gain information that could be useful in your case.

How do I choose the right lawyer for my DWI case?

One of the most important decisions you will have to make is which attorney you hire to represent you. As you are surely aware, all attorneys are not created equal. Anyone arrested for DWI in Harris County will likely receive solicitations from attorneys in the mail. You should be wary of attorneys guaranteeing results (which is unethical) or with extremely low prices.

Even though most DWIs are misdemeanors, they are more technical and involve more science than almost any other type of case. An effective DWI attorney should be knowledgeable regarding the law of searches and seizures (which is relevant to traffic stops and blood draws), standardized field sobriety tests, blood and breath testing, and, of course, be experienced in trial. A DWI attorney should go to trial frequently (you should be wary of low-cost “plea lawyers”) because often the way to get a good result is to go to trial. You should ask a potential attorney how often they go to trial and what training they specifically have that relates to DWIs.

Contact Our Harris County DWI Lawyer

If you or a loved one is arrested for DWI in Harris County or anywhere in the Greater Houston Area, Jose Ceja is an excellent choice. Mr. Ceja is a former prosecutor who has tried over 50 cases to verdict and has obtained countless acquittals (“not guilty” verdicts) and dismissals. He is certified to administer Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has extensive training in the science behind breath and blood testing. Mr. Ceja represents his clients personally and does not reassign cases to associates. Please contact Ceja Law Firm for a free consultation.