Fort Worth DWI Lawyer

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Fort Worth DWI Lawyers

Being arrested for a DWI Charge can be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through. You were stopped or approached by officers, you may have done field sobriety tests, and the police may even have obtained a breath or blood specimen. You likely spent hours or even a night in jail before you were released. You’re on this page because you’re wondering what happens next and where you go from here. Our Fort Worth DWI lawyer team know you have many questions:

  • Will I be sent to jail again as punishment?
  • Will I have to have one of those interlock devices on my car?
  • Do I have a DWI case I can fight?
  • Will this go on my record?
  • Will I lose my job?
  • Will I lose my Driver License?

Our Fort Worth DWI lawyers have helped many individuals in similar circumstances. We’ve represented individuals you might never imagine would be arrested for DWIs – teachers, police officers, pilots, nurses, and the list goes on. The bottom line is almost anyone can be arrested for a DWI and we know how to help. Whether your case is one we take to trial, contest in a motion to suppress or negotiate a favorable outcome on, one of the most valuable things we do for you is evaluate your case and guide you through each possible path so that you know which options will reach your specific goals.

From first-time DWIs to felonies, including intoxication manslaughter cases with multiple deaths, we’ve defended intoxication cases large and small and we know how to help you.

This page contains more information about DWIs than you're likely to be able to get through in a day. Bookmark this page, or use the table of contents to jump to any section of this article.

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Call us at (817) 203-2220 for same-day appointments or phone consultations.

How to Get Your DWI Dismissed

If you’ve been arrested for a DWI, you’ve realized the deck is stacked against you. The field sobriety tests are easy to fail – even when you’re sober, and many of the typical signs of intoxication may be due to factors other than intoxication.

Take this example: You go out to a karaoke bar around midnight where people are dancing, drinking, singing, and smoking. You leave at 2 a.m. after having two beers. It is legal to drink and drive in Texas as long as you are not intoxicated. As you start to head home, an officer pulls you over for not signaling 100 feet before a turn. He smells alcohol on your breath, you admit you’ve had two drinks, and he sees your eyes are bloodshot and watery (from the smoke in the bar, and from the fact that you’ve been up since 5 a.m.). The officer is going to have you step out of the car, and if you take his field sobriety tests, you are likely to fail and ultimately get arrested for a DWI.

So how do you beat a DWI?

Our Fort Worth DWI lawyers have gotten more than our fair share of DWIs dismissed, acquitted, and reduced. The reason for this is two-fold. First, we have a tremendous amount of trial experience in DWIs. Second, we are adept at finding weaknesses in cases that other attorneys often overlook.

A perfect example of this is a Tarrant County DWI client who hired us on a Felony DWI after hiring another Fort Worth DWI lawyer. That attorney had been on his case for over a year. By the time he hired us, the case was already set to go to trial following week. He had so many DWI priors that he was looking at spending the rest of his life in prison. In the time we had left, we were able to not only prepare for trial, but also found many weaknesses in the case. By the second day of trial, the prosecutor was so concerned she would lose the case that she offered us a misdemeanor plea which the judge said our client could serve at home. Remember, this was a client who was facing a life sentence.

However, be aware that dismissals are becoming harder and harder to obtain. For example, in 2014, 2016, and 2017 there were about 100 DWI dismissals in Tarrant County and about 5,000 cases filed. In 2018, there were only 7 DWI cases dismissed. Meanwhile, prosecutors only secured convictions in 72% of DWI cases that went to jury trial in 2018.

DWI Dismissals in Tarrant County

Winning DWI Cases

There are a number of ways that we have won DWI cases. The ways you can beat a DWI at trial or through a Motion to Suppress include:

1. Lack of Reasonable Suspicion to Detain

Establish the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you. This can be tricky because an officer’s reasonable mistake about the law can still be a valid reason for a stop.

2. Lack of Probable Cause to Arrest

An officer must have probable cause to arrest you. We discuss the field sobriety tests in detail later on in this article, but the officer’s improper administration of the field sobriety tests can make the case ripe for for attack through a motion to suppress the stop.

3. Lack of Probable Cause in the Search Warrant for Blood

The affidavit for a search warrant for blood must establish probable cause in order for the magistrate to allow for a blood draw pursuant to the warrant. If the warrant lacks probable cause, it can be attacked through a motion to suppress.

4. False Information in the Search Warrant

If the officer includes false information in the search warrant affidavit, the affidavit can be contested through a Franks Hearing.

5. Improper Breath Test, Blood Draw, or Lab Techniques

An experienced DWI defense attorney will be able to identify ways to keep out breath or blood scores if the testing or analysis was done improperly.

6. Lack of Proof

Ultimately, a DWI case may be defeated by showing the State cannot prove the accusation by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is typically done through a jury trial but can also be achieved through a breath test.

Find the Best Fort Worth DWI Lawyer for Your Case

When you’re looking for the best Fort Worth DWI attorney for your case, you have a lot to consider:

  • How many cases has the attorney handled?
  • Are they Board Certified in criminal law?
  • Are they former prosecutors in the county you were arrested in?
  • Do they know the judge and prosecutors in your case?
  • Are they at the courthouse every day?
  • Will the attorney you talk to be your attorney?

Find a local attorney. For instance, if you were arrested in Fort Worth, look for the best Fort Worth DWI lawyer. Factors you will want to consider include how many DWI trials they have tried in that county and whether they served previously as a prosecutor in Fort Worth.

Your attorney should be able to talk to you intelligently about the offense you’re charged with, possible defenses, and the best approach to resolve your case. For some, that will mean pushing a case all the way to trial. For others, it may be leveraging the defense case for the most favorable outcome.

Our Fort Worth DWI Lawyer firm has been awarded time and time again for being the “best” (including being named Best DWI Attorneys, Best DUI Attorneys in Client Reviews, Best Law Firm by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Top Attorneys by Fort Worth Magazine and D Magazine) but what we are the proudest of are the reviews that over 100 former clients have left for us.

Before You Go On:

This page is full of information about our Fort Worth DWI Lawyer experience, how DWIs are investigated, prosecuted, and defended, and information that will help guide you through the next few months of your life. We are just a phone call away.

Call us at (817) 203-2220 and let us help you through this chapter in your life.

DWI Dismissed

Tarrant County DWI Defense

We understand how the other side thinks. We’ve served as prosecutors in Tarrant County and Dallas County. We’ve been appointed as special prosecutors in almost every major county in north Texas. We’ve handled thousands of DWIs as prosecutors and we’ve put our experience to work as some of the most effective DWI defense attorneys in Fort Worth.

We have examined hundreds of police officers. We know how they are trained, and we are adept at spotting mistakes the officers make.

Once we become the Fort Worth DWI Lawyer on your case, we will have an opportunity to look at the videos that tell us more than the police reports will. We have had many instances where our client was intoxicated but the officer made mistakes that we were able to use to get the case dismissed or reduced. These range from issues with the stop or arrest to analysts who mishandled evidence.

Our goal on every DWI or intoxication-related case is to first understand your needs and then craft a plan of action that is most likely to reach your desired outcome.

Best Fort Worth DWI Lawyers

What is a DWI in Texas?

A DWI in Texas is the offense of Driving While Intoxicated. DWIs and DUIs are two distinct offenses in Texas. A DWI may be a Class B misdemeanor all the way up to a felony offense. A DUI, on the other hand, is a Class C misdemeanor that is punishable by only a fine. Our Fort Worth DWI Lawyers have compiled this guide to answer many of the questions you will have if you are arrested for an intoxication-related offense.

In order to prove a person was driving while intoxicated, the State must show:

  • the person (the named Defendant)
  • operated
  • a motor vehicle
  • in a specified county in Texas
  • in a public place
  • while the defendant was intoxicated.
Fort Worth DWI Lawyer

How long do DWIs take to be resolved?

Most criminal cases in Fort Worth take about a year to be resolved. A DWI case may take a few months for a negotiated plea to a few years if the case is set for trial. Here is a look at the timeline of a DWI case in Texas.

how long does a DWI case take

What Our Fort Worth DWI Lawyer Clients Say

How Varghese Summersett is Different

How We Are Different

  • Individualized Attention: We understand that clients who hire us are coming to us with the biggest problems in their lives, and we treat their problems with the care and attention warranted by the problem. We seek out the best outcomes by over-preparing, finding weaknesses in the State’s case, through careful negotiations and, when necessary, trial.
  • Exceptional Experience: We’ve handled hundreds of intoxication-related charges. All of our partners are former Fort Worth prosecutors. We not only know the State’s playbook, in many cases we helped write it. We have over half a century of experience handling criminal charges, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you.
  • Proven Results: When it comes to a Fort Worth DWI Lawyer, we know you have a lot of options to choose from. We hope our results and reviews speak for themselves.
  • Time is of the Essence: As former prosecutors, we know the best results go to the most proactive Fort Worth DWI Lawyer. Additionally, DWIs have strict deadlines that could affect your ability to drive. Call us today at (817) 203-2220 or contact us online to find out how you can get started with our Fort Worth Texas firm.
DWI Lawyers

How long can a person go to jail for a DWI in Texas?

A first time DWI, without any enhancing factors, is a Class B misdemeanor with a special punishment range from three days to 180 days in county jail. Misdemeanor DWIs can be enhanced with one prior DWI or with an allegation that the person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration was a .15 or greater at the time the blood was tested. Either of these aggravating factors will increase the range of punishment to 1 year in jail.

How are DWIs Investigated?

You will likely know when you are under investigation for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or a similar intoxication-related offense when an officer approaches you, retrieves your license and registration and then asks, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” However, most officers began looking for signs of intoxication long before you become aware of it, long before you were even pulled over.

To understand what officers are looking for when investigating a DWI you have to understand how they were trained. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Manual is used to train officers all across the country in DWI detection. DWI detection is the whole process of identifying and gathering evidence to determine whether you should be arrested for a DWI. This process begins when the officer suspects you of DWI and ends when the decision for arrest or release is made. The NHTSA manual teaches police officers there are three main phases of DWI detection:

Click to learn about DWI Second Offenses in Texas

Stop or Encounter

Personal Contact

Pre-Arrest  Screening

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Walk and Turn

One Leg Stand

Mental State Requirement for DWIs in Texas

Open Containers

Bonding Out on a DWI Charge

Ignition Interlock Requirements

It will be important in fighting your DWI charge that you are represented by a criminal defense attorney who knows these tests better than your arresting officer. It is important to tell the officer at the scene anything that might make it difficult for you to perform field sobriety tests: age, weight, physical limitations etc.

NHTSA Manuals

Should Your Provide a Breath or Blood Specimen?

Though you have a right to refuse to provide a sample of your breath or blood, if you choose the cooperative route and decide to give a specimen of your blood, you may still suffer penalties. If you are of legal drinking age in Texas, 21 years old or older, and agree to provide a specimen and your test result comes back at a .08 or higher, then your license, permit, or privilege to operate a motor vehicle will be suspended or denied for at least 90 days.

Texas is an “implied consent” state. Implied consent means that every person who has received a driver’s license accepted it on the condition that if law enforcement ever requests a sample of your breath or blood, then you must comply. While consent is implied, the officer cannot force a person to give a breath sample and must seek a warrant to obtain blood without consent. Texas law provides that if a driver refuses to submit to testing, the driver risks automatic license suspension. If an officer has probable cause to arrest you for driving while intoxicated or boating while intoxicated, the officer will read you a DIC-24 statutory warning asking you for a sample of your breath or blood. Your license will be suspended if you fail the test or if you refuse to give a sample.

The DIC 24 Warning

License Consequences if Under 21

License Consequences if Over 21

Audio: DWI License Suspensions

Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearings

If your license is suspended for refusing to provide a specimen or if you provide a specimen over the legal limit, you may request a hearing on your suspension or denial. A request for a hearing must be received by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Austin, Texas, no later than 15 days after you receive notice your license has been suspended or denied. The request for this hearing may be sent by written demand, fax, or any other way determined by Texas DPS.

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The process of warning you of possible suspensions and then suspending your license is called the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Process. At an ALR hearing, the state will be required to show there was reasonable suspicion for a stop, probable cause for your arrest, and that you were given an opportunity to consent to a breath or blood test.

If your license is suspended, it is critical that you contact a defense attorney that regularly handles administrative license revocations. First and foremost, DPS has the upper hand in these cases. They have a low burden of proof and without intervention they can enter their evidence without a sponsoring witness, meaning DPS could simply enter the offense report into evidence, rest and win. In fact, here is breakdown of how many ALR hearings DPS won in Texas in 2015:

Texas ALR hearings

ALR Hearings

Occupational Licenses

An Occupational License is a license that is ordered by a judge and issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety which allows a person to drive while their license might otherwise be suspended. 

Pre-Conviction Occupational Licenses

Post-Conviction Occupational Licenses

Occupational Licenses and Commercial Driver Licenses

SR22 Requirements

Listen: DWI License Suspensions in Texas

How much does a DWI cost in Texas?

how much does a DWI cost in Texas

What is the Statute of Limitations for a DWI?

The Statute of Limitations for a DWI is two years in Texas. The Statute of Limitations for a Felony DWI is three years. The most important aspect of the pre-arrest screening phase is the administration of field sobriety tests. Although the officer won’t tell you this, these are voluntary tests and our advice is to politely refuse the tests. Unfortunately, you may be reading this after you have already done tests. If that is the case, you can take some comfort in the fact that officers routinely administer these tests incorrectly – making the tests an area ripe for attack by an experienced Fort Worth DWI Lawyer.

Vehicle Tow Information

My vehicle got towed. What should I do?

Fort Worth Tow Information

DWIs with Accidents

Did intoxication play a role in my accident?

What should I do if I have been in an accident and have been drinking?

Intoxication: At the Time of Operation

If the police are able to determine you were operating a motor vehicle, the police will then investigate whether you were intoxicated at the time of operation. The passage of time is the most important factor in this situation. The more time there is between tests for intoxication and the operation of a vehicle, the harder it is to determine intoxication at the time of operation. As soon as you consume alcohol, your body will start to metabolize it. Depending up your specific biological make-up and the presence of food in your stomach, your body will process one standard size drink at a relatively consistent rate and your BAC will go down. (Absorption rates vary depending on a lot of factors, while elimination rates are relatively constant for an individual. Interestingly, elimination rates vary from person to person.)

Depending on what time your last drink was, what else is in your stomach, how much you had to drink, what you had to drink, how much unabsorbed alcohol was in your system, and how much time passed between your last drink and the time of driving, your Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) may:

  • Be higher at the time of driving than when you are test
  • Be lower at the time of driving than when you are tested
  • The same at the time of driving and when you are tested.

An experienced Fort Worth DWI Lawyer will have access to experts in the field to determine if and how this “retrograde extrapolation” would be applied. It is very important to make a threshold determination of whether this retrograde extrapolation would even be admissible – the State must have the right experts and the right pieces of evidence to introduce this in court, or the court will keep the evidence out.

Should I answer the officer’s questions?

The most obvious way for officers to find out facts needed for retrograde extrapolation is to ask you for the information. Here’s the danger of answering questions. Let’s say you are asked, “What time was your last drink?” If you answer, “I had a couple an hour ago,” you don’t have any way of knowing if your answer is going to make a difference to retrograde extrapolation. Let’s say a more accurate statement would have been, “one and a half 12-ounce beers, with my first drink being 2 hours ago and I stopped drinking 15 minutes ago.” That has the potential to change your BAC in retrograde extrapolation. Based on the more accurate answer, you may actually be under the legal limit at the time of driving. Here’s the takeaway, any admission you make will be used against you. Be careful about what you say, and think twice before making any admissions.

What should I do with the open containers in my car?

Retrograde extrapolation is not possible when there is an open container of alcohol in the car. Why? Because it is possible you were drinking in the vehicle, making your time of last drink the time you ceased to operate the motor vehicle. For example, if you make a completely sober run to the liquor store and are involved in an accident on the way home, you may, finding yourself stranded, open the liter of vodka and drink it waiting for a Fort Worth tow truck. In this case, you would not have been intoxicated while operating the vehicle, but became intoxicated after the accident. While it is likely you will still be arrested for suspicion of DWI, it will be much more difficult to prove such a case against you in court.

When you’ve been in an accident, and you have had something to drink, there are a lot of decisions to make once you’ve made sure everyone is OK, and you’ve left your insurance information if you need to.

  • Do you need to stay at the scene?
  • Can you find a safe way to get home?
  • Are you going to stay and talk to the police?
  • Are you going to volunteer information?
  • Should you do field sobriety tests?
  • Should you “blow” or provide a breath specimen, if you are asked to?
  • Should you agree to a blood test?

Probation for DWI

The Code of Criminal Procedure sets forth the minimum days as a condition of probation for certain DWI offenses. They are as follows:

Other common conditions of DWI probation in Tarrant County often include:

  • DWI Education Course;
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation (SAE);
  • Victim Impact Panel (VIP);
  • Community Service;
  • Do not refuse breath or blood tests;
  • Report to CSCD once a month;
  • Submit to random testing for alcohol or controlled substances;
  • Interlock as a condition of an occupational license, etc.

Early Release from DWI Probation

There is no early release from probation on a DWI or any other intoxication-related offense under Chapter 49 of the Penal Code. The best the judge can do for probationers with an excellent record is to modify their probation and put them on non-reporting probation. We handle motions for Pro Forma Probation on DWIs. It is important to understand that even if you have a perfect record, the judge does not have to grant a Petition for Pro Forma Probation on a DWI. 

Days as a Condition of Probation

If you are placed on probation for Driving While Intoxicated in Texas, the judge may require that you do time as a condition of probation. This is called Days as a Condition of Probation, most often abbreviated as “Days COP.” In Texas, Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.401 allows for confinement as a condition of community supervision.

On a misdemeanor, the court may impose up to 30 days as a condition of probation. On a felony case, the court may impose up to 180 days as a condition of probation. Days as a condition of probation are served in county jail.

DWI Surcharges

Texas Transportation Code Chapter 708 allows Texas to collect surcharges for offenses including DWIs. A surcharge is an administrative fee that is charged based on convictions reported to a person’s driving record.

The surcharges for DWIs are:

ConvictionSurcharge
DWI$1,000/year for 3 years
DWI Misdemeanor Repetition$1,500/year for 3 years
DWI Felony Repetition$1,500/year for 3 years
DWI BAC >/= .15$2,000/year for 3 years

[PDF] DWI Surcharge and Suspension Chart.

Get Your DWI Video

Before September 1, 2015, drivers arrested on an intoxication offense had an uphill climb if they wanted a copy of the video recording their arrest. The only way to try to get it was through an Open Records Request or through an attorney, who had to first seek prosecutorial permission or a court order to release the video to you.

Not anymore.

Now, obtaining a copy of your DWI arrest video may be as simple as going to the police department and requesting it. You don’t have to wait to be charged. You don’t need permission from a prosecutor or a judge. You don’t even need to have an attorney. Under a new law, the arresting agency is required to produce any and all videos of your stop, arrest, field sobriety tests or blood draw.

Being able to view the video early can be an advantageous. Because it is not uncommon for arresting agencies to wait for blood results before filing DWI cases with a prosecutor’s office, it can sometimes take months before the results come back. Regardless of when the criminal case is filed, a person arrested for a DWI has a 15-day deadline to request an ALR hearing. A person may want to review the video before the case is filed so they can write down things that were not captured on video before they are forgotten.

Get Your DWI Video

Is Involuntary Intoxication a Defense?

Involuntary intoxication occurs in instances where a person tricks another person into taking drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, a common example of this when a person slips a drug, usually a sedative, into another person’s drink. Legally, involuntary intoxication can be used as a defense for crimes that require a culpable mental state or criminal intent. Strict liability offenses, such as a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), do not require a culpable, or blameworthy, mental state in order for a person to be charged with that crime. Therefore, involuntary intoxication is not a defense to a DWI.

Involuntary Intoxication as a Defense

What if someone slipped something in my drink?

Reviews from Clients

By: Marcela A.

From the very first call, I could tell Varghese Summersett was a top notch firm. I called many firms before them and they immediately stood out for their professionalism and prompt response time. They were available for a consultation within 24 hours of my initial call. After retaining them, they were not only always available for calls, questions, and/or meetings but they kept our family in the loop about every step along the way. They outlined the process and set clear expectations from day one. We never felt like we were in the dark. Every one we came in contact with from the receptionist to the various attorneys, was friendly and ready to help. The outcome of our loved one’s case was better than we ever expected it to be. Our family feels fortunate to have had Varghese Summersett by our side during this long a difficult legal process. They made a terrible situation as smooth and painless as possible. I would highly recommend this firm to anyone in need of a defense attorney.

Rating:★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars

By: L. Houston

Anna Summersett provided excellent legal support for our family during a time of crisis. She possesses an outstanding grasp of both the law [DWI] and the Tarrant County legal system. Through Anna’s advocacy, we came to a reasonable settlement with the court for our family’s issue. We are thankful for Anna’s compassionate and skillful legal care and would not hesitate to recommend her to others.

Rating:★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars

Call for a Complimentary Strategy Session with a Fort Worth DWI Lawyer

Being charged with a DWI can be overwhelming. You don’t have to go at this alone. Put our experience to work for you. Give us a call at (817) 203-2220.

During this complimentary strategy session we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Talk to the Fort Worth DWI Lawyer who will handle your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

You can also contact us online:

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese
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