The National TOP 100 Trial Lawyers
America's Top 100 - Criminal Defense Attorneys
Avvo Reviews
Avvo Ratting 10.0 Top Attorney
Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2018
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

What to Do When You Get Your First DWI: A Step-by-Step Guide for First Time Offenders

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

You’re going to a friend’s party. While there, you decide to have a few drinks. You think nothing of it. After the festivities, you drive home.

Then, you spot a checkpoint ahead. Your heart races. An officer leans in as you roll down the window.

He says he can smell alcohol on your breath. He orders you out of the car. You take a breathalyzer test and fail it. The officer handcuffs you and charges you with a DWI.

You panic. You don’t know what to do.

You ask yourself, “Should I get a lawyer for my first DWI?”

The answer is yes. You should always contact an attorney when the state charges you with a crime. An attorney can guide you through the legal process.

And, he or she can educate you on your constitutional rights. This article will show you how to navigate the legal system if you’re a first time offender. Let’s explore.

Know Your Options

When you’re charged with a DWI, you have three options when it comes to legal representation. First, you can choose to have a public defender. Under the law, you’re entitled to a public defender, which is a court-appointed attorney.

During your arraignment, the court will assign you a public defender if you ask for one. And, the attorney will represent you free of charge.

With that, there are some drawbacks associated with public defenders. First, public defenders handle a wide array of cases. Therefore, they may not devote the necessary attention that your case deserves.

An attorney who isn’t fully attentive to your case could result in harsher sentences and other legal headaches. And, public defenders have fewer resources to handle cases.

Worst of all, you may get an attorney who is less than qualified. Or, the defender may be a beginner that has never tried a case.

Your second option is self-representation. However, individuals have fewer resources than public defenders when it comes to crafting a legal defense. Moreover, the average person isn’t accustomed to legal jargon or DWI law.

As a result, a person could lose a case by failing to articulate a sound defense clearly. Further, the complex nature of DWI law makes the cases difficult to understand if you’re not a trained expert.

Your third and best option is to hire an attorney. An attorney has the necessary resources and knowledge to present your DWI case in court.

Whether you face a first time DWI, an attorney can help you avoid answering implicating questions. And, he or she can streamline your case to avoid potential obstacles.

Find the Right Attorney

It’s not enough to find a general attorney for DWI cases. Find that one that specializes in DWI law.

After failing a breathalyzer, contact a DWI attorney immediately when you get the chance. Then, seek the assistance of a bail bondsman to get you out of jail. The fee to bail you out of jail depends on the location and the bondsman.

From there, the attorney can help you through the following steps:

  • Guiding you through police interrogations
  • Requesting a DMV hearing
  • Giving you advice on arraignment proceedings

Whether an attorney is with you or not, you don’t have to answer police questions. Under the Fifth Amendment, you have a right to remain silent.

If you must undergo police questioning, your attorney can be with you in the room. And, he or she can alert you of your rights if the police step out of bounds.

When it comes to DMV hearings, you have a certain amount of time to petition a hearing before officials suspend your license. The time varies by location, but the time window is usually around 10 days.

The nature of the hearing involves whether you should keep your license. A professional DWI attorney can boost your chances of keeping your license.

The arraignment process determines how you intend to plead. An attorney will advise you to plead not guilty if you intend to fight the charges. A guilty plea will lead to the sentencing phase.

  • Note: Having an attorney present at an arraignment hearing is usually not necessary. However, having one by your side won’t hurt you.

A not-guilty plea leads to a trial where you can prove your innocence or challenge the case entirely. If you choose to plead guilty, an attorney can negotiate a lighter sentence. With a guilty verdict, a prosecutor could offer you a lesser sentence.

Most DWI cases don’t go to trial. Most likely, your attorney can resolve your case without a trial altogether. Your defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor on the best way to resolve the case.

Texas officials consider a DWI offense a Class C misdemeanor. This could result in the following punishment:

  • Six months of jail time
  • License revocation
  • Community service

But the punishment depends on negotiations between the prosecutor and attorney.

With that, there are cases where going to trial is necessary. The trial process is especially necessary if you’re wrongfully accused.

The Trial Process

During this phase, an attorney will help you create a compelling defense. Regardless of the defense strategy, you stand a higher chance of winning the case with the aid of a DWI attorney. A lawyer can help you in the following ways:

  • Conducting research to bolster your case
  • Giving you an honest assessment of the outcome
  • Providing options that you have not have foreseen

Before trial, the courts will select an appropriate jury. That’s why you need an attorney who has experience arguing legal cases in front of a jury.

From there, the attorney will communicate your defense in front of a judge and jury. After, the jury deliberates on the facts and will render a verdict.

Should I Get a Lawyer for My First DWI if I’m Guilty?

Regardless of your guilt or innocence, you should contact a defense attorney. They can guide you through the legal process from beginning to end. An attorney can help you understand your situation and resolve it sooner rather than later.

If you’re wondering, “should I get a lawyer for my first DWI if I’m innocent?” the answer is still yes. A lawyer has the necessary resources and knowledge to shed light on your innocence.

Are you dealing with other traffic matters in Texas? Read more on our blog to learn more.

Visit Us

By Appointment Only - Contact Us

The Woodlands Office
8505 Technology Forest Pl #104

The Woodlands, TX 77381

Phone: 832-381-3430

Get in Touch

Free Consultation 832-381-3430

What Our Customers Say

"Andrea is a fantastic attorney versed in many fields. I've retained her services for criminal defense, nondisclosure orders, and family law. She has always provided a...

Steven Street Texas

"Andrea and her staff are definitely one of the greatest of all time. Their professionalism and knowledge of the law and how the system works is unparalleled. I have her...

Dwight Osteen Texas

“Andrea is the most amazing attorney I have ever had in my corner.” — Vincent, client facing 2nd DWI charge, CASE DISMISSED