Answered by: Stephen N. Foster of Simpson, Foster & Gold, L.L.P.
Clients and other attorneys regularly ask me variations of the question, “Should I fight my D.W.I.?” If you’re arrested for driving while intoxicated, you will have to make a decision that will affect the rest of your life. That decision—whether you should take a case to trial or make a plea bargain—depends upon several factors.
Whether or not the district attorney’s office offers a good deal is an important factor. If the offered deal is not much better than what a judge or jury would give if found guilty at trial, then you should probably go to trial. If the district attorney’s office offers to reduce the charges against you, then you should definitely consider the details carefully.
The specific consequences of an offered plea deal are important as well. These consequences include fines, court costs, an abuse counseling program, community service, jail, changes to insurance, a driver’s license suspension, an ignition interlock device, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, classes taken at your expense, a criminal record for the rest of your life and more. Also, in Texas, if you’re convicted by plea or at trial of D.W.I., you will have to pay $1,000 a year for three years to keep your driver’s license.
If you’re accused of D.W.I., you need to consult with an experienced defense attorney about your chances of winning. Breath test results, confessions and officer testimony can be challenged and in some cases, thrown out entirely. If this happens, a previously hopeless case can become winnable.
Of course, the best defense is to avoid getting a D.W.I. in the first place. Consider a cab ride—it’s a lot cheaper than what a conviction can ultimately cost you—and, most important, it doesn’t put your life and the lives of others at risk.
Related Practice Area: Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI
Published in Texas Rising Stars 2010 — April 2010
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I’m unhappily married with three children. I want a divorce, but I’m afraid the system is skewed in favor of mothers. To complicate matters, I recently pleaded guilty to a DUI (my first). If I file for divorce, what are the odds I won’t be given custody?