What is a DWI Probation?

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If you are charged with a DWI in Texas and it is your first offence, there is a good chance you will end up with a DWI probation or suspended sentence rather than having to serve jail time.

However, this is far from an automatic decision by a judge. There are some aspects of probation that are unique to DWI offenses in Texas.

You will need to be smart and hire a DWI lawyer, such as the team at Trey Porter Law,  to guide you through the process and work towards your best interests.

What is a DWI 1st Offence?

A first DWI offence in Texas carries possible punishments ranging from 3-180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, license suspension for up to two years, and annual DPS fees in excess of $3,000. 

These punishments will be more severe if an open container was found in your vehicle, your Blood Alcohol Concentration was 0.15 or higher, or someone was injured in the incident.

With a good DWI lawyer and depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be handed probation in return for a guilty plea. 

That will save you from having to do any jail time, which is certainly good news. However, you still have to follow the often-strict terms of the probation and will be monitored closely by a probation officer for a set period of time.

This period may be between six months and two years for a first-time DWI offense.

Probation is “community supervision”, as defined by Chapter 42A of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure: “the placement of a defendant by a court under a continuum of programs and sanctions”.

Some of these Community Supervision sanctions are DWI-specific and are designed to help ensure that you do not re-offend and follow a law-abiding path for the rest of your life.

How to get a DWI Probation in Texas

Until September 2019, Texas did not offer deferred adjudication for adult drivers charged with DWI. 

This meant that the only way to secure DWI probation in the state was through plea bargaining: pleading guilty in return for a sentence served in the community.

Deferred adjudication is where drivers who are charged with a DWI receive only probation without a conviction.

A law passed in September 2019 now allows judges in Texas to place people charged with DWI on deferred adjudication probation, providing they:

  • Do not have a BAC greater than 0.15
  • Hold a commercial driver’s license at the time of the offense 

With deferred adjudication, judges must order the fitting of an ignition interlock device as a condition, unless it is determined that “restricting the defendant to the use of an ignition interlock is not necessary for the safety of the community.” 

If you do not qualify for deferred adjudication, your DWI defense lawyer may be able to work with the prosecutor and bargain to get the consequences of a conviction changed. That is if it is in your best interests to do so, i.e., there is little chance of your case being dismissed or you winning the case at trial.

Note, however, that if you do have a prior DWI-related conviction, you will be required to serve a minimum of 72 continuous hours in jail even if you are given probation. If you were convicted of the previous offense within five years, this jail term will be extended to five continuous days as a condition of your probation.

Possible DWI probation conditions

The following probation conditions are common to all misdemeanor offenses:

  • Random drug tests 
  • Not committing another offense
  • Avoiding injurious/vicious behavior and people of “immoral” character 
  • Reporting monthly to your court probation officer
  • Home and work inspections 
  • Remaining in employment 
  • Receiving permission before leaving the county/state
  • Paying all fines and court costs

Other possible conditions related specifically to a DWI probation include:

  • Mandatory attendance at DWI Education Class 
  • Attendance at M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel 
  • Completing community Service (usually 24-100 hours)
  • Submitting to an alcohol/drug evaluation 
  • Not consuming alcohol
  • Fitting an ignition interlock device in your vehicle

How can a DWI Lawyer Help?

Because of the potentially lengthy probation period, many people convicted of DWI wonder whether they can receive a probation term? 

Under Texas law, the court is not permitted to terminate a DWI probation early. The law is very specific for DWI and does not allow the time served in the community to be reduced.

It means that if you receive a one-year Community Supervision Probation term for DWI and complete all of the associated conditions, such as community service hours, paying court costs and fines and completing classes within the first nine months, you cannot appeal for your probation to be terminated early. 

However, your lawyer may be able to petition the court to modify the conditions that are attached to your probation.

For instance, your lawyer could ask the court to remove the requirement to use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle after you have completed the required amount of time according to the statute (providing you have not violated any of the associated conditions).

A court may also agree to reduce the number of community service hours required or allow you to go into “non-reporting” status, if your lawyer is able to present a compelling case to the judge to do so.

June 15, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized