DWI 101: What Happens After You Get Out Of Jail On A DWI Charge?

By | February 4, 2011

Texas criminal law clients always ask the same question:

“what will happen now that I have been arrested for DWI, had my driver license confiscated, and now that I’m out of jail?”

After a Drunk Driving Arrest: What Happens Next

The answer is: three things are happening more or less all at the same time. This can be confusing for someone who has not been through this before.

The first part is sometimes called administrative license revocation (ALR).” That’s when the Department of Public Safety (DPS) tries to get your license suspended.

The second part is a simple civil petition that I file for you asking for an occupational driver license if the judge suspends your license.

The third part is the criminal case.

The three parts of a Texas DWI arrest in more detail.

Now, about the first part, the most important thing you need to know is: if you don’t ask for an administrative hearing within 15 days after you were arrested, then your license will be suspended.

Here is why: if you don’t request an ALR hearing within 15 days of your arrest, you legally waive your rights to have that administrative hearing. If you don’t have that hearing, you have no chance of avoiding that ALR suspension. If you don’t ask for an ALR hearing within 15 days of your arrest, then you don’t get a hearing. The law basically says: “if you snooze, you lose your driver license.”

If you aren’t sure whether you want an ALR hearing, and haven’t hired a criminal lawyer yet, then request an ALR hearing anyway. There is no extra penalty for requesting an ALR hearing and then not showing up.

Let’s talk for a moment about how the first part got started. The police officer took your license and filled out a form saying you were arrested for DWI. That form goes to DPS. Once DPS gets that form, they file a petition with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) asking the ALR judge to suspend your license.

Across Texas, DPS wins these cases 77% of the time. And when DPS wins, your license is suspended.

With that in mind, let’s go on to the second part. The second part is a simple civil lawsuit that I file for you. You aren’t suing anyone in this lawsuit. The lawsuit is just a petition for an occupational driver license (ODL).

I need your help to get you an ODL. Specifically, I need you to get the following:

  1. A copy of your driving record (the easiest way to get this is to go to 5805 North Lamar Blvd.);
  2. A copy of your proof of automobile insurance card; and
  3. A copy of a letter on your employer’s letterhead saying that your employer needs you to drive during your work hours, and what your work hours are.

Now, of course, if you don’t really need to drive to do your job, then you will not need to get item number three. After I have written the petition for your occupational driver’s license, I will need you to come by my office, read the petition, and sign a “verification,” in which you swear that everything in the petition is true and correct.

Many judges in Travis County will require that the holder of an occupational driver license have an ignition interlock device into their car. The ignition interlock device can be disconcerting, to say the least. It is disconcerting to have friends get in your car who give you a hard time about being arrested for driving while intoxicated. It can be embarrassing in front of your kids to have to blow into the ignition interlock device. It is distracting while you are driving when the ignition interlock device beeps, signaling that you must blow, so you must move your attention from the road (while the car is moving) to the ignition interlock machine so that it does not shut the car off.

And it is expensive. You pay to have the ignition interlock device installed. You pay to have it serviced every month. As with many things, it really pays to shop around.

The third part is the criminal case. Here is what I do to help you make an informed decision. I get you a copy of the videotape of the police officer giving you the field sobriety tests. I also get you a copy of the probable cause affidavit, which is a summary of the evidence against you.

I also get you a copy of the breath test result, if you decided to blow into the breathalyzer. (Read my last web log for reasons why you should never blow.) I also go over the police report with you. Together, with all that information, we will talk about whether it is in your best interest to try your case either to a judge or jury.