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Mistakes Drivers Make

How to avoid the 10 biggest mistakes most people make after being arrested for DUI

1. Not taking the matter seriously. This is a charge that will follow you for the rest of your life, if you are convicted. The state of Texas will keep track of it until you are dead. You face the prospect of having your license suspended, jail time and paying thousands of dollars in surcharges, fines and additional insurance charges.

2. Not hiring an attorney. The law is complex and you need competent representation. You must raise the right defenses at the right time or you will lose them. Facts will disappear, memories fade and witnesses vanish. A winnable case can quickly become a loser. What should you do? You need legal advice and fast. You want an attorney who knows how to handle your case.

3. Hiring an attorney based on the amount of the fee alone. The State of Texas has almost unlimited resources when it comes to your case. You need to hire an attorney and pay a fee which will allow him or her to put time and effort into your case to counter the prosecution.

Attorneys must earn enough in the time they spend on your case in order to keep their doors open and make a living wage. If you go too low, your attorney will not be able to put in the time necessary to protect you. Look for a reasonable, predictable fee, not the lowest.

4. Not requesting an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing. If you do not request a hearing after a DWI arrest, the Texas Department of Public Safety will suspend your driving privileges within 15 days. Your license will be suspended. Driving while suspended is a serious traffic offense, regardless of whether you need to drive for work or personal reasons.

5. Driving after your license has been revoked. You have no right to drive after revocation and driving then is more serious an offense than your original charge. You may be able to get an Occupational Driver's license for work, school or household duties for a period of one year, but don't drive unless you are clear about your license status.

6. Not requesting that the officer be present at your motor vehicle hearing. If you do not request the officer's presence, you will have to subpoena him or waive her presence. The hearing will be based on the officer's report only and you will not hear how the officer will testify. Many things can be learned at this hearing by your attorney, if the officer is present. If the officer fails to appear or justify what was done, you get your license back.

7. Taking the District Attorney's first offer. The first offer is not a bargain, it's just to get rid of your case with the least amount of work. Very few cases are dismissed or reduced to a non-alcohol charge at this stage. You do not give the judge an opportunity to rule on constitutional challenges. You give up your right to raise these issues and make the State prove its case.

8. Failing to appear in Court. The Court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and revoke any bond. The next time you are stopped for a traffic infraction, you will be spending some time in jail and posting a bond for your future appearances.

9. Talking to anyone but an attorney about your case. Anything you say to them can be used against you. When you discuss your arrest with friends or family, you risk turning them into involuntary witnesses against you. It is in your best interest to remember the details of your arrest. It will help you in your defense. In any criminal case, you must be represented by a competent defense lawyer.

10. Think that talking to numerous attorneys will help you handle it on your own. You need to have an attorney go to court with you.

You may choose a lawyer or risk the consequences of representing yourself. By hiring an attorney immediately following your citation, you won't miss any deadlines. Judges won't know if they should protect your rights unless someone defends you. For example, overworked prosecutors may use reports from inexperienced or over-zealous police officers to over-prosecute a case.

Defense attorneys are aware of these tendencies and are trained to handle such situations. If you ask the judge to let you be your own attorney, he or she must allow this in most cases. But do not do this. In all DWIs, get a lawyer quickly.