DWI Charges and Your Right to a Speedy Trial

One of the cornerstones of our justice system is every accused person’s right to a speedy trial.

This fundamental right has its basis in several founding and important legal documents. The first and most important is the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial and public trial, by an impartial jury.” In addition to this, the Texas Constitution and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure each give the same guarantee. But what does it mean? How fast is a speedy trial? Does it apply to DWI?

Texas and U.S. Courts Define Law on Speedy Trials

The answer to what a speedy trial means is complicated because the language of the actual constitutions and law do not define it. Texas and U.S. Courts have defined what speedy means through different court cases. Speedy trial provisions do apply to DWI charges in Texas.

The groundbreaking case on what speedy means was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972). In that case the Supreme Court established four factors that have to go into any decision of whether a defendant’s case has progressed quickly enough to be considered speedy under the provisions of the Constitution:

  • Whether any delay has been uncommonly long
  • Who is to blame for any delay – the government or the defendant
  • Whether the defendant has asserted his right to a speedy trial in due course
  • What prejudice the defendant suffered due to the delays

The Texas courts have further added to this decision. Under different Texas court decisions, it is clear that a judge must take the facts of each case under consideration and decide whether any delay has violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. It is clear under Texas law that there is not a set amount of time, say a year, that automatically violates the speedy trial provisions of Texas and U.S. Law in DWI and other cases. Hull v. State, 699 S.W.2d 220 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985).

Protecting your Speedy Trial Rights as a DWI Defendant

Because of the nature of speedy trial law it is important that a qualified, professional DWI defense attorney defend your constitutional rights in a DWI case. Your case, and every case, will require a fact-based inquiry into what happened and how that applies to applicable laws and constitutional provisions. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we defend the rights of every DWI defendant that chooses us to represent them. If you are accused of DWI in the Dallas area, contact us. We look forward to defending and protecting your rights.