In many first-time DWI cases, if convicted, prosecutors or judges might agree to sentence you to probation instead of the harshest penalties that come with DWI convictions. This allows you to keep your freedom and continue living your life largely as it was before while paying your debt to society. However, if you violate the terms of your probation, you can face harsh penalties, including extending the time of probation, adding additional terms of probation or revocation of your probation and being sentenced to jail time.
How Does Probation Work?
Probation is formally known in Texas as “community supervision.” It usually entails a period during which you will remain free but under the supervision of a probation officer whose job is to make sure you honor all the terms of the probation arrangement. Probation for first-time DWI cases in Texas can last between six months and two years. It is incredibly important to honor the terms of your probation.
Although probation allows you to avoid many of the more severe consequences of a DWI conviction, it can be a double-edged sword. If you don’t abide by the terms of your probation, the judge can not only restore the terms of your original sentence, but they can also sentence you to the maximum penalty under the law in your case.
What Are the Conditions of DWI Probation?
There are several different conditions you may be required to honor if you are given probation. Some of the most common requirements include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Abstain from alcohol and drug use: If you’re on probation for DWI, it’s very likely that you will be required to submit to alcohol or drug screenings. These may be scheduled, but they may also be random, and administered by your probation officer without warning.
- Paying Fines: Many DWI convictions include fines, court costs and other fees. Almost all probation agreements will require you to pay these fines and costs in full to resolve your case.
- Visits/Check-ins with Your Probation Officer: Probation is known as community supervision because your activities in the community while under probation are supervised by a probation officer, who you will have to check in or meet with on a schedule outlined in your probation agreement. Usually, this is a monthly check-in, but it could be more frequent depending on the facts in your case.
- No More Arrests: One of the main terms of probation is that you will not have any additional arrests while you are on probation. In most cases, even an arrest for a minor offense while on DWI probation will be considered a “violation” of probation and result in your probation being revoked.
- No Contact with Other Criminals or Felons: Generally, your probation terms will prevent you from being in contact with any other people who are convicted felons or already on probation themselves.
- Attendance in an Alcohol or Drug Awareness Course: Judges often require people on probation for DWI to submit to an alcohol and drug evaluation known in Texas as the TRAS, the Texas Risk Assessment System, and if recommended, attend alcohol and drug awareness classes as a condition of their probation.
You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. That means you will have to self-administer a breathalyzer test on the device to start your car. If you register alcohol on the test, your probation officer will be notified and your vehicle won’t start.
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Common Probation Violations
If you are charged with violating the terms of your community supervision (probation), your probation officer will inform the court, which will usually issue a warrant for your arrest on a probation violation charge. Examples of the most common causes for probation violations include:
- Any new arrests while you are on probation
- Possession or use of illegal drugs
- Using alcohol (even if you weren’t driving when using the alcohol, it can be a probation violation)
- Failure to attend scheduled meetings with your probation officer.
- Failure to attend any required alcohol or drug awareness classes
- Failure to pay your fines and court costs by the due date
Procedure After Suspected Probation Violations
In Texas, both prosecutors and judges look at probation as a valuable “second chance” for someone convicted of DWI to get their life together and pay their debt to society without going to jail. Accordingly, the justice system can take a harsh stance when it comes to suspected probation violations. The judge will determine whether you violated probation and issue a sentence for your violation. Potential punishments include:
- Extension of your probation for a longer time period
- Extension of the amount of time your driver’s license is suspended or revocation of your privilege to drive back and forth to work.
- Community service
- Additional fines
- Jail time
The judge can also revoke your probation entirely and sentence you up to the maximum of your original sentence. They have this discretion, even if it’s your first suspected violation or a “minor” infraction. With that said, there are certainly some violations the court views as more serious than others.
If, for example, you test positive for alcohol or drugs while on probation or are arrested for another offense (of any kind), the judge may be inclined to revoke your probation and sentence you to jail time. You may want to consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court. They may be able to find legal issues with the alleged violations or persuade the judge not to revoke your probation.
You Could Serve Additional Time
It’s important to know that if you are sentenced to days in jail as a condition of probation for a probation violation, the time served will not be credited to your original sentence for your DWI conviction. So, the judge may impose days in jail as a condition of probation for your probation violation and subsequently sentence you to serve your original jail sentence that was suspended while you were on probation. So, the stakes are incredibly high in any probation violation case.
You Can Contest a Probation Violation
A probation violation allegation is the same as any other criminal charge in that it is only an allegation, and you have the right to fight the allegations. If you’re facing a probation violation, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Consider contacting legal representation as soon as possible after you become aware of the charges against you.
A probation violation attorney can help you maintain your freedom and ability to provide for your family by successfully arguing that you have not violated probation. We may also be able to argue that your violation does not merit imprisonment or worse. You don’t have to fight a probation violation alone. Contact Blass Law for a confidential case evaluation today. We will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.