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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Woodlands DWI Attorney - What happens on the first court date for a DWI in Texas?

Conroe Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law.

What happens on the first court date for DWI in Texas? The first court date for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) case in Texas is typically known as the arraignment. This is when the defendant is officially notified of the charges against them and enters a plea. Or at least that is what used to happen in the 1800s. Now the first court setting is merely an opportunity for the lawyers for the government and your lawyer to meet and discuss the case. Very few cases reach an agreement on the first court date. This is because the process of collecting evidence from police is very slow. It can take 2-6 months to collect video evidence and 6-12 months to collect blood testing evidence from the State. Article 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal procedure requires the State to deliver copies of this evidence to the defense.

For this reason very little happens at the first court date on a DWI in Texas. If you do not already have an attorney during the arraignment, the defendant will be informed of their right to an attorney and to remain silent. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, one may be appointed for them by the court. There are almost no courts in the State of Texas that require an oral entry of a plea of not guilty on the first court setting. And just because you plead not guilty on the first court date there is nothing that prevents you from pleading guilty later if the district attorney offers a better deal.

For this reason if you hire an attorney you may be able to get your case reset to a new date to allow for the delivery of evidence. This includes any witness statements, police reports, and any other evidence that may be relevant to the case. The punishment ranges will also be explained. A DWI blood test with less than 0.15 alcohol content is a Class B Misdemeanor and has a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. ​ If the test is equal to or greater than 0.15 it is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 365 days in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. ​ A State Traffic fine may also be issued in the amount of $3,000 for first time DWI cases and $6,000 with a result of 0.15 or greater.

It is important to note that the arraignment is just the beginning of the DWI court process in Texas. Depending on the circumstances of the case, there may be several additional court appearances, including pre-trial hearings and a trial.

If the defendant is found guilty of DWI, they may face a range of penalties, including fines, probation, community service, and even jail time. The severity of the penalties will depend on a number of factors, including the defendant's prior criminal record, the level of intoxication, and whether any property damage or injuries occurred as a result of the DWI. If the judge requires bond conditions to be placed on you this could happen on a first court setting. However this practice is rare on first DWI arrests.

There is almost never a problem or difficulty that arises on the first court date on a DWI and there's nothing you should be worried about if you have an expert Defense Attorney with you. The only time that people have difficulties on their first court date on DWI cases are when there were bond conditions given to them by the court that include the requirement of drug testing or alcohol monitoring on their vehicle through an ignition interlock device. If you have not followed the bond conditions then the community supervision department could file a request to have your bond revoked. Even in circumstances where you test positive for drugs or alcohol many times on a first setting your case can be continued to a new court date to allow you to get in compliance with your bond conditions.

For litigants who do not have counsel: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney client relationship. Call to set up a free consultation.

For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is for educational purposes only and it provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship created. Don't just read this as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney.

For attorneys: This Blog is informational and educational in nature and is not a substitute for Westlaw or other research and consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. As you know the law can change day to day based on recent case opinions. And unfortunately you shouldn't cite it in court as binding authority because it is not. Mention it to your friends, just seek real consultation if it’s something important.

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