Criminal Defense and Title IX
Attorneys Austin, TX

What Happens If You're Arrested For Drunk Driving in Texas?

Man pulled over by police covers face with hands while behind the wheel.

Getting charged with DWI can have serious consequences.

Every year, thousands of Texas drivers find themselves facing the hard reality of being arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). This moment can be overwhelming, filled with uncertainty and anxiety about what comes next. However, knowing how to navigate the legal process can make a significant difference in the outcome. At Botsford & Roark, our Austin DWI defense attorneys fight for the rights and freedom of those charged with DWI in Travis County or another Central Texas community. For a general understanding of the process, read on. For information regarding a specific case, Contact Botsford & Roark for a free case evaluation.

Texas DWI legal process steps

In Texas, drunk driving, or DWI, is defined as the reckless or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle by a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Travis County is tough on DWIs. In an average year, more than 25,000 new first-offense DWI cases are filed in the county. From understanding your rights to knowing how to handle interactions with police, being informed and prepared can make a big difference in results.

Here's a breakdown of what to expect:

Pulled over under suspicion

To pull a driver over for DWI, an officer must reasonably suspect impaired driving or be operating a sobriety checkpoint. The officer may ask questions and request a field sobriety test. If the stop was conducted without probable cause or proper procedures, the evidence obtained after the stop should be suppressed, and charges may be dismissed due to lack of evidence.


Individuals have the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. After consuming alcohol or experiencing impairment, you may refuse to answer questions, but if not under arrest or in custody, a driver's silence can be used against them as an admission of guilt. Sometimes answering questions is advisable and sometimes it is not, of course, depending on the circumstances.

Charged and arrested

When arrested for DWI in Texas, individuals are typically read their Miranda rights, are informed of the charges, and are then transported to a nearby detention center for testing and booking.

You may be asked to take a breath or blood test

You can refuse blood or breath tests to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Texas. The state's implied consent law dictates that by driving a vehicle, individuals have agreed to provide a breath sample if legally requested by an officer, though, so if you do refuse, the state will attempt to suspend your driver's license. Again, whether you should refuse a breath or blood test depends on the circumstances.

Hire an experienced DWI defense lawyer

After a DWI arrest, contact an attorney focused on DWI cases to understand your rights and options.


Typically, the morning after an arrest is the arraignment. During this brief court appearance, the full charges are read and the judge sets bail, if available.

Preparing for court

Get prepared for the upcoming court proceedings:

  • Immediately document all arrest details. Jot down details from the arrest, including where and when the stop happened, the reason provided by the officer, and any tests performed. If a lawyer has not yet been consulted, contact one ASAP.
  • Make social media private. Prosecutors often comb social media pages for incriminating posts, photos, or videos. Set social media to private.
  • Talk to witnesses. Witnesses are particularly valuable if they were with the driver during, immediately before, or after the stop.

Pretrial negotiations and hearings

Skillful plea negotiations can lead to reduced charges or case dismissal. During this time, schedule an ALR hearing (also known as a DMV hearing) for a chance to maintain driving privileges until the case is finalized.


If a deal cannot be negotiated, the case proceeds to trial. A DWI lawyer will present arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and challenge evidence to establish reasonable doubt.


If found innocent or acquitted, the case concludes. However, if convicted, the judge typically schedules another court date to determine the sentence.


If an appeal is warranted, an experienced Texas DWI lawyer will understand how to build the strongest case and apply.


In Texas, a first-offense DWI is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of 3 days and up to 180 days in jail, as well as up to $2,000 in fines. However, in less severe cases, skillful negotiation may get a driver sentenced to probation instead of serving jail time.

Austin DWI defense lawyers with decades of experience

When facing DWI charges, having an experienced, determined DWI defense lawyer on your side can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case. The Austin DWI attorneys at Botsford & Roark have been successfully handling cases involving a wide range of DWI charges for decades. Contact us anytime for trustworthy information and a no-obligation, free DWI case evaluation.

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