Have you or a loved one been arrested for a misdemeanor DWI in Travis County? If so, you are probably thinking "what happens next?" Well, we’re here to tell you and to give you a roadmap as to what happens next.
Types of Misdemeanor DWI
- In Travis County, all class A & B misdemeanors are prosecuted by the Travis County County Attorney’s Office.
- All felony DWI’s are prosecuted by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.
A first-time DWI is usually a class B misdemeanor and a 2nd offense is usually a Class A misdemeanor. A felony DWI is usually when you have two prior DWI convictions and get charged with a 3rd. For more information on DWI offenses and punishment ranges, click here.
Travis County Jail/Bond Set
After being arrested for DWI in Travis County you will be booked into the Travis County jail. The jail is located in downtown Austin. Later, a magistrate will set a bond. Depending on your criminal history and the specific facts of your case, you will either be given a personal recognizance (PR) bond or a surety bond. For more information on bonds, click here.
Standard DWI Bond Conditions
In most misdemeanor DWI cases (1st or 2nd offense), you will get out of jail within 24-48 hours. At this point, you will be given a list of bond conditions that you must follow.
Standard bond conditions include not getting arrested for another offense, showing up to court when required, and sometimes completing an alcohol assessment with Counseling and Education Services (CES), and having an Ignition Interlock device installed in your vehicle (usually reserved for 2nd DWI offenses or when there is a crash or high blood alcohol content (BAC)).
After bonding out, your case is currently in the unfiled stage. Over the next few months your DWI cases will be reviewed by intake prosecutors, likely accepted and then randomly assigned to 1 of 7 county courts-at-law that preside over criminal misdemeanor cases. While your case is unfiled, there will be a number of court dates you must attend if an attorney does not represent you. However, if you do have an attorney you will not be required to attend court for a number of months. In fact, if you have an attorney, there will not be any court dates for 4-5 months.
Evidence Request and Review
During the initial months when there are no court dates, your attorney should be requesting evidence (This is referred to as discovery.) from the Travis County Attorney’s Office and completing a thorough review of the evidence.
Typical evidence in a DWI case includes the police dash-cam video, body-cam video, witness statements, police report, lab results (blood or drug case), blood draw video (blood case), breath test slip (breath test case), and other proof of the probable cause.
Also, a skilled DWI attorney will request the police officer’s employment history, blood discovery from the lab that tested your blood (blood case) or breath discovery on the breath machine (breath test case). This allows the skilled DWI attorney to determine if the machine that analyzed your specimen (breath or blood) was calibrated correctly or had any other errors that could have skewed the final BAC result.
Once your case is assigned and in a specific court, there will be 3 pre-trial conference settings (usually scheduled about a month apart). These settings allow your attorney and the county attorney (prosecutor), to negotiate and talk about your specific case. You will not be required to attend until the third pre-trial setting.
Options Available To You
Typical options for a misdemeanor DWI case in Travis County are:
- Deferred prosecution
- Reduction to a non-DWI offense
- Some type of DWI conviction (jail or probation)
- Jury trial
In many cases, if the only offer from the county attorney is some sort of DWI conviction it is best to proceed to trial. The reason for this is simple- if you plead guilty to DWI, you will always have a conviction on your record. If you go to trial, you have the possibility of being found not guilty.
Check back for another blog post soon where we will go into more of the specifics and pros and cons of the options listed above.