What’s the Process of a DWI Arrest in Texas?

What to Expect if You've Been Arrested for DWI in Austin, TX

Every state has laws against driving while intoxicated (DWI), but the specific procedures and consequences can vary from state to state. In Texas, a DWI arrest involves several distinct steps, starting with a traffic stop and potentially leading to an arrest, booking, and subsequent court proceedings. Understanding this process can help prepare you for what to expect if you or someone you know is facing a DWI charge.

  1. Traffic Stop. This usually starts when a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer may pull over the driver because of erratic driving, a traffic violation, or at a DWI checkpoint.
  2. Observation. Once the vehicle is stopped, the officer will observe the driver’s behavior, look for signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, red or glassy eyes, smell of alcohol, etc.
  3. Field Sobriety Tests. If the officer suspects the driver may be intoxicated, they may ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests may include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.
  4. Preliminary Alcohol Screening. The officer may also ask the driver to blow into a preliminary alcohol screening device, commonly known as a breathalyzer. This is not compulsory, and the driver can refuse, but refusal may have certain legal consequences.
  5. Arrest. If the officer has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated, they will place the driver under arrest for DWI. The driver will then be transported to the police station or jail.
  6. Chemical Testing. Once at the station, the driver will be asked to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). Under Texas’s implied consent law, refusal to submit to this test can result in a driver’s license suspension.
  7. Booking. The driver will then be booked, which involves taking their personal information, fingerprints, and mugshot.
  8. Hearing and Potential Penalties. After arrest and booking, the driver will have to attend a hearing in court. If convicted, penalties for a DWI in Texas can include fines, jail time, probation, community service, mandatory alcohol education programs, and driver’s license suspension.
  9. Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. In addition to criminal proceedings, the driver may face an ALR hearing. This is a civil proceeding separate from the criminal case, where a judge will decide whether to uphold a license suspension for failing or refusing a chemical tes

Final Thoughts

The exact process can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, and the laws may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified legal professional such as Brian Roark if you have questions about a specific situation. Also note that while this provides a general overview of the process, it doesn’t cover all potential variations or exceptions to the process.

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Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Roark

About the Author

Brian Roark is an experienced criminal defense attorney and Title IX lawyer, and former professor of Trial Advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law. He has successfully represented clients in a wide range of criminal cases, including DWIs, drug offenses, and violent crimes. Brian has extensive experience representing clients in university Title IX proceedings, helping students navigate these complex and often stressful processes. He is committed to providing his clients with compassionate and personalized legal representation and has a proven track record of achieving positive results.

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