Derk Wadas and Jon O'Toole
Collin County DWI Charge Process, part 2
While the facts of every DWI investigation have their own unique nuances, in general, DWIs in Collin County follow a predictable process. After the arrest, you will need to go through the bonding process. There may or may not be a need for an ALR hearing. Then the case will be filed in the courts by the district attorney’s office. After the filing of the case, you and your attorney—and you should get one— will begin the plea-bargaining process and the discussions about pleading or setting your case for trial. The DWI attorneys at Andor, Goheen, O’Toole, Wadas & Gonzalez, P.L.L.C. will help you through the entire process.
The Collin County DWI Bond Process
After you have been arrested and booked on a charge of DWI, you will be held in a jail facility. Some cities, such as Plano and Frisco, have their own jails and will hold you there overnight before transferring you to the Collin County Jail the next day. Other cities, such as McKinney, do not have their own jails and will take arrestees directly to the county facility.
There, you will wait until a judge can see you to set a bond and attach conditions to the bond. This process may require you to spend one or two nights in jail. Once the judge has set your bond, someone can either pay the full amount of the bond in cash (cash bond), or the individual can pay 10% to a bail bondsman (surety bond). The key difference here is a cash bond will be returned to the person who paid it, or it can be applied to court costs and fines when your case is disposed. With a surety bond, the bail bondsman keeps the 10% paid as his fee for posting the entire bond amount.
The ALR Process in a Collin County DWI case
Once you are arrested for a DWI, the police officer is required to give you written notice, called the DIC-24, your license will be suspended. Most times this is completed in the back of the patrol vehicle or in the intoxilyzer room at the jail. Once the officer gives you the written notice, the clock starts ticking. You have 15 days from the time notice is given to request your Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
If you have no previous “alcohol-related law enforcement contacts,” and you voluntarily submit a specimen that was over a .08 or more, your license will be subject to a 90-day suspension. If you refused to submit a specimen, your license will be subject to a 180-day suspension. Previous convictions or alcohol related suspensions may increase the length of the suspension. To avoid an automatic ALR suspension you must request an ALR hearing. By hiring a criminal defense attorney, he or she can request your hearing and file all the necessary paperwork and subpoenas. Your presence is not required at the ALR hearing. At the Collin County Law Group, we routinely assist clients in requesting and fighting to keep their licenses.
At the hearing, your attorney will be able to cross examine the officer involved in your case. From time to time, the officer will not show up. If the officer was under subpoena to appear at the ALR hearing, and he does not show up, your license will not be suspended. If the officer appears in court, then an administrative law judge will review the police report, consider the officer’s testimony under cross examination, and decide whether to suspend your license or not.
During ALR hearings, the State has a lower burden of proof than at trial; therefore, most of the time your license will be suspended for 90 or 180 days. If you license is suspended, the attorney you hired may petition the court to grant you an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL). An ODL allows you to legally drive your vehicle for work and other necessities during certain hours of the day. If your license is suspended and you drive without an ODL, you risk arrest for a Class B Misdemeanor for driving with a suspended license. Once the 90 or 180 days have elapsed, your license will be reinstated.
If you do not request a hearing, the suspension automatically goes into effect on the 40th day after the Notice of Suspension was served. The length of the suspension, as noted above, will be 90 days if you agreed to submit to a breath or blood specimen with an alcohol concentration above .08, or it will be 180 days if you refused to submit a specimen. The ODL attorneys at the Collin County Law Group can make sure you have a valid ODL and help you get back to work.
Filing Your Case
It can take several months for the police agency to file your case with the District Attorney’s Office. If they took your blood, it may take even longer for your case to be filed because the DPS Garland Crime Lab will have to test your blood for its alcohol concentration. If law enforcement suspects intoxication due to something besides alcohol, they will send your blood to the DPS Austin Crime Lab, which will take even longer. Once the police agency files your case, if it is a misdemeanor, an intake prosecutor will make the decision to accept your case. If your DWI is a felony, then your case will go before the grand jury for deliberations. If the grand jury finds probable cause, it will issue a True Bill of Indictment. If the grand jury does not find probable cause, then it will issue a No-Bill, and your case will go no further.
If your case is accepted or indicted, it will be assigned to a court, and you will receive notice by mail of your first appearance. You must show up to your first appearance. If you do not many Collin county courts will give you a few days to check-in. If you do not, the court will forfeit your bond and issue a warrant for your arrest. During this first appearance, your attorney will meet with the prosecutors assigned to the case, receive copies of the evidence the State has against you, and will let you know the State’s initial offer.
After the first appearance, your attorney will review all the evidence and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case. After the appearance there will be several settings, called announcements. At these announcement settings, your attorney will be required to be there, many times you will be required to be present as well. These announcements are work sessions where your attorney will negotiate with the State and discuss any outstanding evidentiary issues. Once you have had the maximum number of announcements for the respective court, you will have to set your case for a plea or trial.
The decision to plea or go to trial
Your attorney will advise you about the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case and all the possible outcomes. If your attorney has found the police officer may have performed an unlawful search or seizure, they can file a motion to suppress. The motion to suppress hearing is like a mini trial. The State usually calls the primary officer to testify. Your attorney will cross examine all witnesses. The scope of the testimony will be limited to the point where the unlawful search or seizure occurred. Then the attorneys will make legal arguments based on case law as to the legality of the search or seizure. If the judge grants your motion to suppress, then all evidence gathered after the unlawful act is suppressed. If the judge denies your motion, you can still plea or take your case to trial.
If you decide to plead guilty, you can either be sentenced to jail or prison if it’s a felony charge, or you may get probation, also called community supervision. If placed on community supervision, you will have to complete a number of conditions and not violate the terms of your probation. If you have any violations or fail to complete the conditions, you risk having your probation revoked.
If you decide to plead not guilty, your case will go to trial. You have the option to have a judge or a jury decide if you are guilty or not. Your Collin County Law Group DWI lawyer will advise you as to which choice to make. The State has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in either option. To meet this burden, the State will usually bring officers, nurses, intoxilyzer operators, blood analysts, and sometimes 911 callers to testify against you. You do not have to present any evidence. Your attorney will cross examine the State’s witnesses. You will decide, based on your attorney’s advice, whether you will testify. Your attorney may call any other witnesses who will be helpful to your case. Both sides will make closing arguments, and the judge or jury will determine if the State has met its burden.
If you are found not guilty, you will be eligible for an immediate expunction to wipe the arrest from your record. In addition, if your driver's license was suspended after the ALR hearing arising from the same case, you are entitled to have that suspension rescinded by the Department of Public Safety. If you are convicted, you will move into the punishment phase of your trial. Prior to the trial, you will decide if you want a jury or the court to assess punishment upon your conviction. You will either serve time or be placed on community supervision. Either way, the court will send notice of your conviction to DPS, and DPS may suspend your license again. If that happens, your attorney can petition for another ODL so that you can drive legally for work and life obligations. For first offense DWI cases, if you are placed on community supervision (probation) and you complete the DWI Education Class in a timely manner, you will not suffer an additional driver's license suspension based on the conviction.
Our experienced lawyers at Andor, Goheen, O’Toole, Wadas & Gonzalez, P.L.L.C. use bold strategies and sound defense techniques to fight DWI charges from start to finish. Clearing your name is our number one priority. Contact our office 972-548-7167 for a free consultation and to learn how we provide personalized legal representation for all of our clients. We believe in your case and will fight to protect you. It is at the heart of everything we do.