The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a DWI Attorney

houston dwi attorney

Let’s face it—your mailbox has just been flooded with fifty or more annoying letters from lawyers you have never heard of, and who you probably would never hire because of their questionable tactics in trying to reach you, right? If you know a lawyer who can give you a referral, that’s probably the best way to find the right DWI lawyer to defend you. If you ask them about me, I bet you’ll find they know my name and that DWI is my area of expertise. But what if you don’t know anybody to ask, or more importantly, you don’t want to ask anybody because then they will know you are charged with a DWI. It’s not exactly conversational material and you probably don’t want anybody to find out.

It’s hard to find a good DWI lawyer—somebody who dedicates their practice 100 percent to fighting DWIs. I can relate to your situation because I recently had an incredibly difficult time finding a good family lawyer for my own brother. He was going through a pretty difficult divorce and he needed a good lawyer to help him through this rough patch. He really didn’t know where to turn and felt like a fish out of water. Maybe you are feeling a little bit like that right now.

Dealing with any lawsuit is stressful enough without having to worry about finding the right person to represent you. There are a lot of lawyers out there but it’s very hard to know who has the experience you need and who will really do what they say they are going to.

Embarrassingly, we went through three attorneys before we found someone who knew what they were doing and was good at it. It was a strange time, being in the position of trying to find an attorney for my family. Even being an attorney, I still struggled to find somebody who we could trust. I personally understand how hard it is and that’s why I put together this handy consumer’s guide.

The most important thing you can do right now is find the right person to help you. I wish I had some sort of guide or checklist when I was searching for a lawyer for my brother so I could ask the right questions and weed out the good from the bad. Having some sort of guide would have saved us so much time and stress if we could have found the right attorney the first time.

Every day I see how hard it is for people in your position to find the right DWI attorney. I see good people go with a lawyer “friend” who dabbles in DWI but doesn’t really do a good job. He just tells his clients to plead guilty because he doesn’t know what he is doing and he knows he can’t beat the case. I see people hire young guys with little experience for a very low fee and then after a while, the attorney tells his client he can’t win and he should just plead guilty, merely because the young lawyer doesn’t know what he’s doing or he is scared to death of going to trial. Even worse, sometimes the inexperienced lawyer actually fights the case at trial and it ends badly, with a permanent conviction.

We want to AVOID a DWI conviction!

I put this guide together to help you navigate the hiring process. I have been practicing law for eighteen years and DWI is all I do. I’ve seen every possible situation and I’ve successfully defended the most basic to the most complex cases involving accidents, injuries, blood draws, breath tests, alcohol, and drug-related DWIs. I’ve also successfully defended people charged with felonies due to having multiple prior convictions on their record or having a child in the car. And while these cases are more rare, I have even successfully handled Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter cases as well.

Please read these questions and use them as a checklist when you are searching for the right DWI lawyer to fight for you. I promise you that most lawyers won’t want to answer all of these questions. This handy guide will help you quickly identify who really knows what they are doing and who doesn’t. Or if you are ready to just cut to the chase and talk to me, I’m available 24/7 at 713.224.5529.

  1. If I was intoxicated can you still fight my case?

The answer to this question should definitely be “Yes, we can still fight for you.” Of course there is never a guarantee that you can win every case. However, some of the worst-looking cases we have fought and taken to trial have turned out to be our best victories. Usually, the outcome is not dependent on whether you were driving while intoxicated. The only thing that matters is what the state can prove. A real DWI lawyer’s job is to find problems with the state’s case, no matter how bad it looks, and go for the dismissal or the Not Guilty at trial.

  1. Are you Board Certified?

Only 1 percent of all attorneys in Texas are Board Certified. I am part of that elite 1 percent. I am Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Board certification distinguishes lawyers who have attained a high level of expertise in a specific area of law. Always seek out an attorney who is Board Certified. If you had the choice between a Board Certified doctor and one who is not, who would you feel more confident with? Most lawyers you will talk to are not Board Certified.

  1. How long have you been practicing?

The longer you practice DWI law, the more you know and the more experience you have. I have been practicing for eighteen years and there is almost nothing I haven’t seen or faced in a courtroom. There will always be young, go-getter lawyers, but as nice as they may seem, they just don’t have the level of experience you need if you are serious about fighting your DWI.

  1. Do you teach other lawyers?

This is a good gauge of the level of expertise a lawyer has in DWI law. If a lawyer is good at what they do and judges and other lawyers know it, they are asked to speak at DWI seminars around Texas and all around the US to teach other, less experienced lawyers how to fight DWIs effectively. When looking for a DWI lawyer, try to find one that speaks at seminars and teaches other lawyers. This is a sure sign of special competence in DWI.

  1. Who do you receive referrals from?

Most lawyers who are just starting out or who don’t really focus on DWI don’t get many cases referred to them. After doing this for eighteen years and proving myself in court, I’ve established solid relationships with the judiciary as well as prosecutors and even the police officers I go up against in court. I regularly receive referrals from former judges, prosecutors and even police officers. I even received a DWI referral recently from the chief of the Houston Police Department.

  1. How do you handle License Suspension hearings (ALR hearings)? ALR stands for Administrative License Revocation. There is no such thing as an automatic license suspension. Even if you are arrested and the officer confiscates your license, you are still legal to drive. A good DWI lawyer will always request a hearing to fight your license suspension. There is a fifteen-day deadline to give notice to DPS that you are fighting the suspension, so it is urgent that you hire a DWI attorney right away. Don’t delay. If you ask around, some lawyers will tell you that they don’t handle ALR hearings because they say “you can’t win them” or that ALR hearings are a “waste of time.” Absolutely not true. If you ever hear a lawyer say something like this, get up and walk out of the meeting and call somebody else. Those lawyers are not real DWI lawyers. There are specific rules you have to follow in order to have a chance at saving your license but in my practice, we rarely have a client get their license suspended because we know what we are doing.
  2. Is an ALR hearing important to winning the case?

YES! An ALR hearing is sort of a preview of what the officer might say if the case went to trial. The ALR hearing happens early on in the process. At the hearing, we are allowed to question the officer(s) under oath and on the record and many times we can get good testimony from them that we can then use to help make the DWI case go away completely. This is a pretty complicated part of effective DWI representation and it is extremely important to have an attorney that has handled hundreds and hundreds of ALR hearings. This can potentially make or break your entire case.

  1. How many ALRs have you handled?

Make sure to ask this question. It is a telltale sign that you are dealing with a real DWI lawyer if they have personally handled hundreds or thousands of their own ALR hearings. There are many lawyers who won’t handle ALRs at all, or they will charge you an extra fee to handle it for you (which in my opinion is very wrong), and then there are lawyers who tell you that they will handle your ALR hearing but then they farm it out to another lawyer and just hope for the best. The only way to do this job right is for the DWI attorney you hire to handle your ALR hearing personally, period.

  1. How many reviews do you have online?

Reviews are very important because they tell you instantly what kind of a job the DWI lawyer has done for other clients. If an attorney has a very low number of reviews, that is a red flag that they don’t really handle DWIs often or they just don’t do a good job. Places to look for reviews are on Google business listings or avvo.com. I personally have 107 reviews on avvo.com as of this document’s publication date.

  1. Do you go to trial?

Always, always, always ask this question. Listen, the goal of our defense is first and foremost to get your DWI completely DISMISSED without going to trial. Nobody really wants to go through a trial. But if the prosecutor will not dismiss your case then your only options are to plead guilty and take the permanent conviction or go to trial and go for the Not Guilty verdict. You would be surprised how few DWI attorneys actually ever go to trial. Most are scared to death of trial and they will just tell their clients to plead guilty before ever subjecting themselves to a jury trial. There are two ways to keep a DWI conviction off your record: DISMISSAL or a NOT GUITY verdict. We always want a dismissal but at the end of the day, you need an experienced trial attorney on your side in case we need to fight it all the way. You definitely need somebody who has been there before and knows what they are doing.

  1. How many trials have you tried?

Again, this is a telltale sign of who you are talking to. Ask them point blank, “How many DWI trials have you tried as the lead attorney?” I personally have tried close to three hundred (which is more than anybody else around). I’ve tried many very difficult cases where we had great successful outcomes. Even though we always want a dismissal first and foremost, sometimes we’ve got to go all the way for you to get the outcome we want. I am never scared to try any type of DWI case and I hold personal records for the most trials in a year, that number being well over forty.

Some lawyers may try one case a year if they try any at all. Ask the question.

  1. What’s the difference between a Dismissal and Trial?

A dismissal is something that happens before trial, and is when the state decides for one reason or another that they cannot win the DWI so they file a motion to dismiss. The judge grants it and you win. No conviction. We work hard to find problems with the state’s case in order to obtain a dismissal of the charges without going to trial. We obtain numerous dismissals. Trial is when the state doesn’t dismiss the case and we spend one to three days in a trial trying to show the jury that there is not enough evidence for the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody was intoxicated. Often we raise motions to suppress evidence during trial that the judge grants, and that increases our chances of victory. We always fight for a dismissal before a case would go to trial. When we obtain dismissals its usually after we have prepared extensively as if the case was going to trial, we show up on the day of trial, we announce we’re ready and boom, the state throws in the towel and dismisses the case. If they don’t dismiss it, we are ready to tee it up and go for the Not Guilty. We have obtained dismissals and Not Guilty verdicts at trial in cases involving accidents, second or third offenses, high level felonies, cases where our client admits they know they drank too much and cases with extremely high breath or blood BAC levels.

  1. How do you get a DWI dismissed before trial?

Ask a lawyer this question and sometimes you will get a blank stare! Obtaining a dismissal before trial can happen in many different ways. The job of a real DWI defense attorney is to go to work from day one investigating and preparing the case as if it were going to trial. That way we find out all the problems the state has with their evidence long before it would ever go to trial. Dismissals can happen for reasons such as the stop being illegal, the officer not having reasonable suspicion to detain you, there was no probable cause for the arrest, problems with the breath or blood test, a problem with the blood warrant, or frequently just because the client looks pretty good on video and the state doesn’t feel like they can beat us in trial.

  1. Do you do a lot of expunctions?

Asking this question will tell you right away how successful an attorney is at making DWIs go away. When you get a dismissal or a Not Guilty verdict, you are entitled to expunge the DWI from your record. This means its will be completely removed and nobody can see it. You can legally deny that it ever occurred once you expunge it. At my firm, we handle expunctions regularly because we obtain numerous dismissals and Not Guilty verdicts.

  1. How do you handle Breath Test cases?

Any DWI attorney worth his salt knows all about the science behind breath testing and what to look for to attack the BAC result and cast doubt on its reliability. A proper investigation consists of gathering hundreds of pages of documents regarding just your one breath test. These documents include the maintenance and calibration records, the plot pattern that shows trends in the machine before and after your test, and all the test slips several months before and after your test—and a good DWI lawyer should actually go and inspect the machine location themselves in person. Rarely does an attorney do all these things. Most lawyers don’t even know how to obtain all this information.

  1. Do you know all about breath testing science?
houston dwi attorney vs breathalyzer

Ask this question and you may hear a jumbled answer of a lawyer trying to explain what Infrared Spectrometry means and how it measures a person’s BAC level from the amount of alcohol in their deep lung, or alveolar air. I actually own several working breath testing devices and we do experiments with them.

  1. How do you handle Blood Draw cases?

Just because they draw your blood, it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel. Blood draw cases are complex DWIs that only a very knowledgeable and experienced DWI lawyer should be handling. It takes numerous hours to obtain and then analyze the lab documents and maintenance records, investigate the standards and controls used, and to analyze trends and look for carryover contamination in the Chromatograms before and after your blood test.

  1. Do you know everything about Blood Analysis Science?I’ll just answer this one. I know all about the science of Headspace Gas Chromatography which is the scientific procedure used to test blood for alcohol. Not only have I handled hundreds of blood draw cases and attacked the reliability of the procedures used in particular cases, I am the only DWI attorney in the entire US that has their own actual blood laboratory in their office. My lab is used for teaching other lawyers and for me to conduct experiments to test theories presented in court by the state’s lab personnel. My lab is called Texas Forensic Analytics and if you make an appointment to come talk to me about your case I will be happy to give you a tour.
  2. Do you handle anything besides DWI cases?

This is probably the number one most important factor in the outcome of your case. You should hire an attorney who handles DWI EXCLUSIVELY. There are many “criminal defense” lawyers out there who handle all types of criminal cases, including DWI, but that is a big red flag. You want an attorney who has picked DWI as their niche area of practice and is dedicated and passionate about being the best in this one area.

  1. How do you structure your fee?

The answer you will get from nearly every attorney you ask is that they will charge you one fee for pretrial and then if it goes to trial you will be charged much more down the road. Make sure you look them in the eye and ask very specific questions about fee structure. I hear horror stories of clients being misled about how much the representation would cost, and then down the road the attorney informs their client that they need to pay more money or just plead guilty. I never do a split fee like this. I don’t want to mislead clients. All our fees are flat fees and it covers everything. There are no surprise costs down the road. If we can get the case dismissed before trial, then we did our job and you are happy. If we need to go to trial, we do not come back and charge an additional fee. I have learned over the years that in my opinion, this is the most honest and ethical way to structure a fee.

  1. Do you do payment plans?

This is another delicate issue. Most lawyers will offer payment plans but what I notice is that they only perform work as you pay them. They just don’t fight very hard. If you come in for an appointment with me or my team to discuss your case with us, we will go over payment options. Most of our clients pay the entire fee up front or in a few days after moving some things around. If you are able to do that I often offer a discount. In some situations I will work with clients by allowing installment payments. We also have a financing company called iQualify available to help you finance the fee.

  1. Do you have any staff or other lawyers that help you or is it just you?

This is important to ask lawyers because sometimes the name partner who owns the firm will meet with you and then after you hire them they pass you off to an associate attorney who has less experience. I’ve heard of this happening many times. It is common, though, for other lawyers and paralegals to work as a team on your case to help prepare everything and investigate everything for the lawyer to look at. I have an entire team—four lawyers and two legal assistants—that helps me prepare. It’s not just me. You aren’t getting just one lawyer with our firm but a team of strong legal minds thinking about your case. Just make sure you ask this question and that you are comfortable with the answer.

  1. What awards have you won?

Awards and accolades are something to ask about. There are many accolades and endorsements that are very difficult to achieve and to obtain. Only proven lawyers will have received certain recognitions. You want to find a DWI lawyer who is AV rated Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell, given a score of 10 by avvo.com, voted Texas Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly and Thompson Reuters, and you want your DWI attorney to be Board Certified. There are also many fake awards out there that

are available for lawyers to just purchase and hang on their walls, but the ones I listed above are not for sale and can only be obtained through hard work and by building an outstanding reputation for success in one area of law. I have attained all of these accolades for my work in DWI.

  1. What organizational positions have you held?

Don’t be hesitant to ask your lawyer what, if any, organizational positions they have held. Being involved with defense organizations is important and it’s a sign of approval from other lawyers that they know you work hard and have earned a seat at the table. For example, I was the 45th president of Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (which is the largest local defense bar in the US), and I’m currently on the board of directors of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association where I put time in speaking around the state, and I’ve had several articles published in the TCDLA magazine The Voice.

  1. Have you been recognized by the media for your work fighting DWIs?

Any DWI lawyer that has been in the trenches fighting for what is right and who fights to expose lab cover ups, police misconduct, or illegal practices will get noticed by the media. To this day, I maintain good relationships with many reporters and people in the media who have interviewed me to tell the public our stories about important issues we have uncovered in the way the government is prosecuting DWI cases. Many times we have exposed different crime labs or police agencies for mishandling important evidence that has, in turn, led to a successful outcome for our client. A little while back, there was a cover story in the Houston Press. They wanted to make the story about how I “get people off of DWI.” They used some questionable phrasing of statements I made, but I can’t argue with being on the cover. Hey, at least they spelled my name right!

You now know more about hiring a DWI lawyer, just from reading this guide, than 95 percent of all people who will hire a DWI lawyer this year. You may want to go back and put a checkmark next to the questions that are most important to you. Now it’s time to search for a lawyer to represent you. With a DWI case, time is of the essence. Of course, I’d like to talk with you. All you need to do is call 713.224.5529 to start a conversation.

“Never Gave Up!!”

“My situation & my case was not something Tyler & his associates experienced before and I know he worked hard to try to get my case dropped, even though the evidence he researched & gathered had supported me, I still had to face a trial & to plead “no contest” but that wasn’t the end of the story. The officer who had arrested me was himself arrested and investigated and Tyler and his associates worked to have my case reopened, retried and finally dropped. I appreciate everything that Tyler & his associates did for me and are continuing to do for me to have all charges & surcharges dropped.”

  • Nicole

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“Tyler helped my husband get the case dismissed. One of the BEST LAWYERS in Houston.”

  • Kelly

“DWI + Car crash = NOT Guilty!!”

“DWI + Car crash = Impossible? Not for Tyler Flood

All I can say is that Tyler is a sharp and very smart trustworthy lawyer. Always dedicated confident in the law. He is an awesome defense lawyer…”

  • Jose Martinez

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“Absolute professionalism at its finest, if you are in need of professional legal help, Tyler is your man. This is one of the biggest decisions of your life, so choose wisely. Thank you again Tyler & Associates!!”

  • Bobby

“The Tyler Flood Firm Rocks!!”

“I hired the Tyler Flood firm immediately. I was referred by other lawyers and told they were the best! From my first meeting I had full confidence in them. My case took 7 months but 6 of those months is on the state. Once the state got their act together the firm had my case dismissed within hours. Very professional, always returned my phone calls and emails and even called to remind me when I had to appear in court. This firm is referred to as the best DWI firm around because they have earned it!!!”

  • Michele

“Life Saver”

“From the start Mr. Flood and his team made it clear that I was priority number 1, even when I called after hours there was always someone to talk to about my worries, made me feel comfortable in my case, and took it all the way to court to win… I wouldn’t recommend anyone else but Mr. Flood to handle a DWI case. He and his team are the best.”

  • Cory

“WOW What a Firm!!”

“After being referred to Tyler’s law firm from a friend I decided to go ahead a go with Mr. Flood’s firm and boy I’m so happy I did. His whole staff worked as a team to get my DWI dismissed and that is exactly what they did. I never went in front of a judge. I was always called the night before my court dates to be informed of what was going to happen. They made this nightmare as easy for me as possible. The saying you get what you pay for rings very true in my case. It was money well spent. My case was dismissed even before setting trial date.”

  • Steven

“Super Lawyer”

“Tyler Flood and associates are an astronomical team. Tyler was aggressive when needed to be and very professional during my trial. He left no stone unturned. I highly recommend Mr. Flood if you ever find yourself in a situation such as myself. The not guilty verdict for a DWI was the best!”

  • Magaly

Client Testimonials

  • 5 Stars
    "Tyler and his team are top notch—with years of experience under their belts they know what strategy will work to advocate for the best possible outcome. They are knowledgeable, professional, and courteous. Like a doctor, you never know you hire a bad attorney until it’s too late, and don’t take a gamble and retain someone else, especially when the clock starts running quickly, once you are arrested for a DWI. Run, don’t walk, to retain Flood and Associates!"
    - Alyssa S
  • 5 Stars
    "So. I can't say enough about Tyler Flood and Associates! BRAVO!! I had a 3rd DWI and my daughter Googled Tyler & Co. Who are DWI SPECIALISTS! I set up an appointment, and was impressed with their knowledge on the Laws and Science of DWI cases! Hank👍💥💥💥💥💥👌"
    - Hank Baerga
  • 5 Stars
    "Tyler Flood did an excellent job in taking care of my situation when no other attorney could do so. He kept communication open by way of text messages and phone calls, I was inform in every step along the way and he represented me well in court. His assistant Andrea was very quick in responding to my emails, I felt comforted by their genuine concerns of my case. Highly recommended"
    - Tamra Elwell
  • 5 Stars
    "Tyler Flood and associates are an astronomical team. Tyler was aggressive when needed to be and very professional during my trail. He left no stone unturned. I highly reccomend Mr. Flood if you ever find yourself in a situation such as myself. The not guilty verdict for a dwi was the best! "
    - Magaly
  • 5 Stars
    "Great experience under terrible circumstances...when your future is at risk, the attorney you chose could decide your fate..Flood & associates took my case personal...I felt I was represented by family...highly recommend Tyler to everyone!"
    - Brent
  • 5 Stars
    "I personally want everyone to know, this is the best law firm for dui issues! They are professional and responds all the time, communications between the office and myself was on par at all times and bottom line. MY CASE WAS DISMISSED!!!"
    - TW David C.
  • 5 Stars
    "Tyler did a great job for me. I never felt like he wanted me to settle. In fact he would encourage me to hang in there and go to trial. In the end my DWI was dismissed the day of trial. I would definitely recommend them."
    - Robin
Read More Testimonials
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Texas Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  • The American Chemical Society
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • Best DUI Lawyer
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Texas Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  • The American Chemical Society
  • National College for DUI Defense
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