Probation is one of the most common penalties for Texans charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, even if you are currently on probation, an experienced DWI attorney can fight to keep you out of jail. If you received a DWI and are wondering about your next steps, call a law firm with years of legal experience.
Our Houston DWI probation lawyers will fight to get you the best outcome possible for your case. A DWI arrest does not necessarily mean your probation will be revoked; however, you should act quickly to protect your rights with an aggressive criminal defense attorney.
Drunk Driving Laws in Texas That Could Be Relevant in Your Case
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 makes it illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle if they have a minimum blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. This is also the case if a driver has lost their normal mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of drugs or alcohol under Texas Penal Code § 49.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) states that your DWI penalties depend on the number of offenses you have committed.
For example, after your first DWI conviction, you could spend up to six months in jail or pay $2,000 in fines. However, you could face up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines for your third offense.
For a legal consultation with a dwi probation lawyer serving Houston, call 713-225-1900
What To Do If You Are Suspected of a DWI
If you’ve been pulled over for a DWI, you could do a few things to aid your case.
- Always be courteous and obey the police officer’s directions.
- You have rights and should exercise them. For example, you can remain silent and refuse a field sobriety test.
- Do not answer questions that might lead to your incrimination or undergo a field sobriety test.
- You typically won’t be asked to perform standardized field sobriety tests unless the officer thinks you are showing signs of impairment.
- The Texas Transportation Code states that if the police ask you to perform a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test and you refuse, the penalty could be worse than if you agreed.
- Finally, contact your Houston attorney for assistance if you are arrested for a DWI. This might make the difference between the judge revoking your probation or having a chance to avoid county jail time.
Houston DWI Probation Attorney 713-225-1900
Securing Legal Counsel Is Critical To Protecting Your Future
Texas courts are known for imposing harsh penalties on people convicted of DWIs. Judges are quick to take away your driver’s license, impose fines that cost a lot, and even put people behind bars if found guilty.
If you are convicted of any DWI offense in Texas, probation could be part of your sentence. The length and inconvenience level of the probation depends on the severity of the charge and the skill of your defense team.
How To Receive Probation in DWI Cases
Qualifying first-time and second-time offenders who plead guilty or no contest to DWIs will likely receive probation. To be eligible for misdemeanor probation, defendants must convince the judge to grant it.
A judge may not want to grant probation when a person is in a major accident, has a high BAC, or has a significant criminal history. Probation is also an option for commercial drivers.
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How Can a DWI Probation Lawyer in Houston Help You?
If you were charged with a crime, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. You have a right to work with a Houston DWI probation legal team that can defend you against unfair allegations that could harm your well-being and livelihood.
Your DWI probation lawyer could help your case by providing legal representation.
Determining Whether Your Arrest Was “By the Book”
Law enforcement officials do not always conduct arrests in good faith. To arrest you, they must have had probable cause or reasonable suspicion you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances must have directly caused you to lose normal use of your mental or physical faculties.
Additionally, if you were arrested but the officer did not read your Miranda rights, certain statements you made after the arrest could be suppressed.
Your DWI lawyer could look at the available evidence to ensure your arrest was made legally and that you don’t face the consequences of a bad traffic stop.
Disputing the Results of a Blood or Breath Test
You might have been tested for intoxication with a breathalyzer at the scene of your arrest. However, even if the results exceeded the legal limit, that doesn’t matter. In Texas, handheld roadside breathalyzers are not admissible, meaning the prosecution can’t use them at your trial.
The only breathalyzers approved for evidential breath testing are the Intoxilyzer 5000 and the Intoxilyzer 9000, and neither fit in an officer’s pocket. Even testing at the police station can lead to problems.
For instance, the results may be inaccurate if you ate, smoked, or drank 20 minutes before taking the test. Your Houston DWI probation lawyer can determine whether your test results were properly collected or interpreted. If not, your lawyer can move to have them dismissed from your case.
Deciding Whether You Were Legally Intoxicated
Your probation came with conditions. For instance, one of them was to refrain from committing new law violations.
However, if you were charged with a DWI and were under 0.08% BAC, you would not have been considered intoxicated and should not face drunk driving charges.
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How Pretrial Diversion Works in DWI Cases
In some cases, DWI defendants can enter a contract with the state and potentially have their criminal charges dismissed if the terms and conditions of their contract are completed.
In this process, the district attorney may dismiss the charge upon successful completion of the terms of the agreement. This is called a pretrial diversion. In a pretrial diversion, the defendant must complete tasks such as:
- Community service
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD’s) Victim Impact Panel
- Texas DWI education class
- Supportive outpatient treatment
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Avoiding drunk driving offenses and crimes other than certain traffic violations
Are Pretrial Diversions Valuable in DWI Cases?
Although pretrial diversions are relatively uncommon, they can be a valuable way to avoid retaining a criminal record. Following the DWI pretrial diversion, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to file for an expunction. An expunction erases the arrest and criminal case from your record.
However, failure to meet the terms of the contract often results in the state proceeding with the case and prosecution.
Suspended Sentence Probation for DWIs
When a defendant is granted probation, the judge suspends the jail sentence and imposes community supervision. This can happen in first-time DWI offenses, more severe cases, and those that involve repeat offenders.
Defendants should be aware that the possibility of spending time behind bars increases with each conviction. The same is true for defendants who may have failed a breathalyzer or gotten into a car accident while allegedly under the influence.
How To Receive Suspended Sentencing
A suspended sentence with probation allows defendants to keep their freedom under state supervision. State prosecutors and judges may consider suspended sentencing if your DWI defense attorney can make the argument for it. This can occur if you are a repeat offender or have another conviction.
You must complete the court-ordered requirements to receive suspended sentencing. However, violating the terms of a DWI probation from suspended sentencing often results in immediate incarceration. Probation may be one’s last chance to stay out of jail.
Can You Get Deferred Adjudication for a DWI?
A deferred adjudication means that you plead guilty to driving while intoxicated. Still, the judge in your case may postpone or defer finding you guilty if you complete the requirements of community supervision.
Once you have completed the conditions of your community supervision, the judge can set aside your guilty plea, and you will not have a conviction on your record. In Texas, deferred adjudication for DWI cases is not the same as other offenses in that it still carries the same punishment as a conviction.
Despite not having the opportunity for a real deferred adjudication in Houston, you could have your case dismissed, get a not-guilty verdict, or qualify for an expungement of your record. We have experience determining whether defendants qualify for that action.
Texas DWI Probation Penalties
Determining the terms and conditions of a DWI probation involves negotiations between a criminal defense attorney and government prosecutors. Your attorney will work to get you the best possible outcome, including reduced or no jail time and reduced fines.
Reducing your time in jail will likely come with increased “community supervision” or probation.
Common conditions of DWI probation in Texas include:
- Fines and fees: There are generally fines and court costs associated with DWI probation sentences. Beyond those, you could expect to pay for at least a portion of the probation supervision costs and restitution if you were involved in an accident or a victim incurred a loss.
- The probation officer or community supervisor monitoring: People on probation are assigned a probation officer who will schedule monthly meetings. Your probation officer reports to the court. Missing a meeting could result in a DWI probation violation.
- Alcohol education requirements: The court generally mandates classes to educate offenders about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. These include the Texas DWI Education Program and Victim Impact Panel offered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The court often requires those on probation to complete an education program within six months.
- Random screenings: The court will require your abstinence from alcohol and drugs during probation. Failed or skipped drug screenings can result in revoked probation, additional hours of community service, and jail time.
- The installation of an ignition interlock system: The court may require you to have an alcohol monitoring device installed in your vehicle at your own expense. This is often a condition of probation if the probationer is allowed to maintain driving privileges.
Along with these conditions, people on DWI probation are generally tasked with community service, must remain under travel restrictions, and cannot commit a crime. Just as DWI offenses are met with harsh penalties in Texas, the courts do not tolerate probation violations.
What Happens if You Violate Your Probation?
The court views your probation as your last chance to stay out of jail. Any probation violation can quickly result in an arrest warrant. The probation officer managing your case or state prosecutor could file a motion to revoke your probation.
Common reasons why a DWI probation may be revoked:
- An arrest while on probation
- A new law violation
- Failing to make court-ordered payments for fines, fees, or restitution
- Failing to attend educational classes
- Drinking while on probation
- Failing to complete community service
Once the state has filed a motion to revoke probation, you will be entitled to a hearing. The court will decide whether to keep you on probation or revoke probation entirely and move forward with sentencing. This sentencing could include incarceration or other punitive measures.
How Long Does Probation Last?
Probation periods vary depending on the circumstances. However, the completion time of this probation does not change in Texas because your probation cannot be terminated early.
Despite this, you could have your probation terms altered if you have successfully kept to all of the requirements set out by your probation for a certain period. For example, you may be allowed to visit your probation officer less frequently, or your community service hours may be decreased.
Modifications to DWI probation are not guaranteed, however, and will vary for different cases.
Your Attorney Can Help You Build an Argument in Your Houston DWI Defense Case
Probation violators face an uphill legal battle because the burden of proof is lower in this type of hearing. It’s up to your attorney to provide an effective defense and prove you did not violate the terms and conditions of your probation.
The other alternative is to present mitigating circumstances and persuade the court to allow you to remain out of jail. A Texas DWI probation defense attorney can determine the best strategy for your situation.
Request a DWI Probation Case Consultation With Blass Law
A Houston probation lawyer could represent your interests and defend your rights if you received a DWI. The attorneys at Blass Law will seek the best result for your case, whether this is your first DWI offense or an additional charge while on probation.
You have a short time to defend yourself and reduce your penalties, so contact a Houston DWI probation lawyer at our law firm today.
Call or text 713-225-1900 or complete a Case Evaluation form