Although Texas law imposes harsh penalties for driving while intoxicated convictions, each case is treated individually and in some cases punishment may be minimized to a DWI probation term in Harris County and other Houston area criminal Courts. The court may decide you are a good candidate for probation. This means you will be able to live at home and will be monitored by the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. If you want to explore this legal option aggressively, you need to hire an attorney with excellent reviews, a proven track record and experience handling this type of case. You need Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C on your side in Court. If you received a notice that you are in violation of probation for your DWI case, you especially need to call a strong legal team fast.
There are different types of probation depending on the classification of your offense, whether a Class A or B misdemeanor, or a third-degree felony. The court will also impose certain rules you must follow with penalties attached so you know what will happen if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions.
Types of Probation for DWI in Texas
Texas law allows for two types of probation:
- Deferred Adjudication Probation
- Suspended Sentence Probation
Deferred adjudication is generally available only for first time offenders. Also, it is only available to those who decide not to go to trial. The court does not enter a finding of guilt, but defers adjudicating guilt until the end of the probation period. If you follow all the conditions of probation, at the end of the probationary period, the case will be dismissed and there will be no finding of guilty. The circumstances of the arrest and adjudication may be available, but there will not be a record of you having been found guilty of a criminal offense.
Suspended sentence is a type of probation the court may impose after a guilty verdict or finding. With suspended sentence probation the court may impose a set sentence for a certain period of time, sending you either to the county jail or the state prison, depending on the type of crime. Instead of actually sending you there for incarceration, the court suspends the sentence pending the successful completion of probation. If you complete your probation without violating the terms, your sentence is complete and you will not be incarcerated.
Terms and Conditions of DWI Probation
Courts consider each case individually when imposing terms and conditions of probation for DWI. Some of the most common ones include:
- Fines & Restitution. Payment of restitution, fines, and court costs. The court will likely work out payment plans for those who are unable to make one payment.
- Probation Officer. Reporting periodically, generally monthly, to a probation officer.
- Ignition Interlock System. Install, at your own expense, an alcohol interlock ignition device on your vehicle. This is a device that requires you to blow into it before starting your car. If you have even a trace of alcohol in your blood, your car will not start.
- No Violations. Not committing any other offense.
- Clean UA. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol and submitting to periodic and random alcohol or drug testing.
- DWI Classes. Attending DWI or alcohol education and awareness classes.
- No Traveling. Staying in the county unless you get permission to travel from your probation officer or the court.
- Community Service. Performing a certain number of hours of community service.
- Random Sobriety Tests. Submitting to any breath or urine test if requested to do so by law enforcement, your probation officer, or the court.
- Jail or Incarceration. Some jail time may be required before the commencement of the probationary period.
- Suspended License. Suspension of your driver’s license or some restrictions on your license may be imposed, such as only driving to and from work or school.
These are only examples. The conditions of probation for a DWI are crafted based on the circumstances of the particular offense, whether or not you are a first time offender or it’s a second or third felony DWI, and what prior convictions you have on your record. In some cases with habitual DWI offenses, the judge will not allow any probation and will defer only to punishment, fines, and sentencing.
At the end of the probationary period, if you have complied with the terms and conditions, you have completed your sentence and can resume your normal life without any court-imposed restrictions.
If the court sentences you to probation, with terms crafted for your unique situation, it is like being given a second chance. If you violate those terms, your probation officer may ask the court to issue a warrant for your arrest and file a motion to revoke your probation. Some examples of violations that may result in probation revocation include:
- An arrest for any reason for any offense.
- Failure to make payments according to your arrangements with the court.
- Skipping a court-ordered alcohol education class.
- Detection of any amount of alcohol in your system when you are driving.
- Failure to show up at your scheduled time for community service.
- Possession of any amount of a controlled substance.
Depending on how serious the court finds the probation violation to be, it has several options of how to proceed and decide what the consequences may be.
Consequences of Violating Probation for DWI
The court continues its mission to treat each case individually. The judge will hold a hearing where both you and the probation officer will have a chance to present your case. It is possible that if this is your first violation, and the court considers the violation a minor one, you will be admonished and your probation will continue. The court does have the following options, depending on the type of probation you are on.
- Deferred adjudication probation violation. The court may enter a finding of guilt and impose a sentence it deems appropriate within the statutory limits of the Texas Penal Code section that you violated. You will now have a guilty verdict of a misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record.
- Suspended sentence probation. The court may send you to jail or prison, but the sentence cannot be more than the one originally imposed and suspended unless you have committed another offense in addition to the probation violation. For example, if the court imposed a 5-year suspended sentence, you cannot now be sentenced to more than based solely on your probation violation.
Defense Lawyer for DWI Probation & Violation of Probation
If you are wrongly accused and arrested for drunk driving, what you do next can have a serious impact on your future. Do not risk making a quick decision or going to court without legal representation. Contact our attorneys experienced with DWI probation in Harris County and violation of probation for DWI. Call our law firm Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C., as soon as possible for a free consultation. Our office is in the historic Heights District of Houston, Texas and we serve all of Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County and other suburbs and counties across Texas.