How Long Does A DWI Case Take To Get Resolved In Texas?
In Travis County, I would anticipate for most first time DWI cases that they would resolve in about a year. Here I’ll try to break down some of the reasons that a case can take that long. In the past, I would say that if there is blood evidence or blood that was collected in the case either by a search warrant or by your consenting to it, that the analysis of that blood can take anywhere from between 3 to 6 months and that’s if they are just testing it for alcohol. If they choose to test it for drugs additionally, it can take even longer than that. It can take as long as 10 months. The types of reasons that they would choose to test it for drugs instead of alcohol are if they had any reason to suspect that drugs were involved, so if marijuana was found in your vehicle or any other type of controlled substance at the time of the arrest, or if the blood alcohol concentration comes out low enough and they believe they don’t have sufficient evidence to necessarily prosecute you and they want to see if there is any controlled substance in your blood, then they might choose to retest the specimen for drugs. In case you need legal assistance with your case, you can contact the DWI defense lawyer at our office in Texas. Our DWI defense attorneys have been helping victims charged with driving under the influence all over Texas and surrounding areas.
If there are illegal drugs in your body, that in addition can be used to prove up a combination of alcohol and drugs as the basis for your intoxication. I say illegal drugs, but really, even if it is prescribed medication, and even if it is being taken in accordance with your doctor’s orders, it still can be used as the basis for a DWI in Texas. Even if you ultimately don’t have any drugs in your system, I’ve often seen the test add additional time before the prosecutors will even file the case because there is an enhancement provision for DWIs where the blood alcohol concentration comes out above a 0.15. So 0.08 is the legal limit, but if it comes out on the test almost twice the legal limit —0.15 or higher then they will file it not as a Class B misdemeanor, but as a Class A misdemeanor. For that reason, they want to wait until the analysis comes back, and will typically wait until that analysis comes back before they decide whether or not they are going to file the case as a Class B or a Class A misdemeanor. In the end, whether you’re charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor, just make sure that you have an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Austin, Texas by your side.
So it’s something that upfront, invariably in almost all circumstances will take, about 6 months if we are taking that on average. In addition to that, recently, because of the introduction of high definition body cameras on all Austin Police Department cops and on all officers in a lot of other jurisdictions, in Travis County they are backlogged in even getting the video of the arrests to us, and I’ve seen many circumstances recently, that video which we normally, in the past would get within a month has taken 4 or 5 months before they get it to us, and that’s another key piece of evidence that delays the case from going forward. Other than that, once the case is filed we are going to have multiple pre-trial conference settings. A pre-trial conference is an opportunity for me to sit down with the prosecutors to review what evidence we do have, to request that they view and scrutinize certain pieces of evidence that I think is useful for our case, and for us to request more evidence that they haven’t given us yet. During the pre-trial conference, I will make sure that all issues related to your case are addressed and discussed. Only an experienced lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to understand how to defend a DWI case and protect the rights of their clients during the entire process.
As your DWI defense lawyer, I will also go over evidence about the blood draw and how it was conducted, standard operating procedures and how they were performed in this circumstance, and things like that. Also, a blood draws video, any records from the jail, and very significantly, getting those records together and getting them to us and getting the prosecutors to actually view the video oftentimes takes a couple of pre-trial conferences. The timing between the pre-trial conferences is generally around a month or little more. So that would take a couple of months after the case is filed. You are generally not required to show up to court until the 3rd or 4th pre-trial conference and that depends on which court your case is set in. As long as you have an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Austin, Texas by your side, you don’t need to worry about any of these matters.
Different judges have different rules about when defendants need to be present. After that time, when we get to the 3rd or 4th pre-trial conference, on every subsequent setting, you will be required to be present. Those settings are for us to attempt to negotiate a resolution that is positive for you and that depends on your circumstances and the facts of your case as to what a positive resolution would be. As DWI defense attorneys representing you in Austin, Texas, typically we are trying to get the prosecutors to agree to dismiss the case and reduce it down to a lesser charge, either obstruction of the highway, reckless driving, or even a Class C traffic ticket. If we are able to negotiate one of those 3 things and you choose to accept it then we can resolve the case in a plea. That would be a plea setting which would be a setting approximately a month after that, but if we are not able to come to a resolution, that’s when the timetable for a resolution of the case can extend a little longer than a year.
That is when we move your case to either a pre-trial suppression hearing or we move it to a trial docket. If I’ve identified any issues in terms of constitutional violations or statutory violations that may constitute a basis for having some of the evidence thrown out, or even having the arrest itself thrown out, then we’ll set it for a pre-trial suppression hearing where we can have the officer again on the stand much like the administrative license revocation hearing, but this time in front of the judge who is in control of the DWI. We would have that officer testify, and then, based on their testimony and evidence, we have the judge make a decision about whether or not the officer had enough reasonable suspicion in order to stop you originally, or enough probable cause to arrest you, or other things like whether or not they detained you too long when you were waiting for a blood draw or waiting to do the field sobriety test.
There are a bunch of issues that can come up at that hearing. If there aren’t any such issues when we work up the case, then we move the case forward to the trial docket. The anticipation is that when on a trial docket, the prosecutors are much more likely to actually be looking seriously at the case and saying “Okay, we haven’t resolved this case so far but now we know that the defendant is willing to have a trial and is willing to take the all or nothing approach,” because at a trial, you can either be found not guilty and the case is completely gone and can be expunged with all the records erased immediately, or you can be found guilty. Those are the only 2 options. So it’s really an opportunity for the defendant to step up to the plate. The prosecutors recognize that and that’s oftentimes when we do resolve the case favorably with a reduction of charges. You might think that we’d get a result at the first jury trial setting but unfortunately, there are many cases set on the jury trial docket, oftentimes 20 to 30 or more.
Your case will be just one of those cases and as your DWI defense attorneys in Austin, Texas, it will be our top priority to have your case dismissed as soon as possible. Typically the judges go and decide which of those cases, because they are only going to try one, they decide which of those cases they are going to try based on how old those cases are and whether or not the defendant is in custody. Older cases get priority and above that cases in which the defendant is in custody, they get priority even more. So if those cases resolve or you happen to be the oldest case, then you’ve got a real shot at going to trial, but if you are not one of those cases and a different case does go to trial then you get reset for another jury trial docket. Jury trials can be about a month out but in some courts they are backed up and they can be as much as two months apart. This is where the timetable will get extended and ultimately, we will either resolve the case with a plea or a trial. In some limited circumstances, I’ve seen cases last up to 3 years if the defendant is really holding out or has a bad set of facts but two years or a year and a half would not be unreasonable if the case does get set for a trial.
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