Many people arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) choose probation instead of jail or prison as an outcome of their criminal case, and it often varies how long it will last. Probation is formally referred to in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 42.12 as community supervision.
Probation is preferred by some over a jail or prison sentence. However, individuals must keep in mind that they are still being watched closely and must comply with all court requirements to complete a term of probation.
What Kinds of DWI Crimes Can People Be Charged With?
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 establishes that a person commits a DWI offense in Texas if intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. A first DWI offense will generally be a Class B misdemeanor, but an individual whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests shows a reading of 0.15 or more can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor. Third or subsequent DWI offenses are usually third-degree felonies.
Other possible DWI charges could include:
- DWI with Child Passenger, Texas Penal Code § 49.045 – If an intoxicated person is operating a motor vehicle in public with a passenger under the age of 15, they can be charged with a state jail felony.
- Intoxication Assault, Texas Penal Code § 49.07 – It is a third-degree felony if an intoxicated person, by accident or mistake, causes serious bodily injury to another while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride. It is also a third-degree felony if an intoxicated person, by accident or mistake, causes serious bodily injury to another while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
- Intoxication Manslaughter, Texas Penal Code § 49.08 – It is a second-degree felony if an intoxicated person accidentally or mistakenly causes death when operating a motor vehicle in a public place, or operating an aircraft, watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembling a mobile amusement ride.
The nature of the criminal charges you face will determine whether probation will be an option for you. Know that prosecutors are typically less inclined to offer community supervision to alleged repeat felony offenders rather than those accused of misdemeanors. Give yourself the best chance of a better outcome by working with a criminal defense attorney.
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What Are the Penalties for a First DWI Conviction?
In general, common penalties for a first DWI offense will usually include some combination of the following:
- Fine of up to $2,000
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Driver’s license suspension of up to two years
- DWI intervention or education program
- Possible ignition interlock device
Criminal penalties are obviously worse if the charge is elevated from the Class B misdemeanor common for DWI charges. Keep in mind that these penalties do not include the cost of bail, which can be between $100 and $10,000 just for release of an alleged offender.
How does Probation Work in Texas?
People placed on probation in Texas must comply with several requirements to complete their terms of probation. The requirements may include any of the following:
- Drug/alcohol dependence evaluation
- Twelve hour DWI education class
- Pay fines and court costs
- Community service
- M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel
- No drinking or drug use
- Ignition interlock device installation
- Random drug testing
- Don’t commit any new law violations
- Monthly meetings with a probation officer
- Remain gainfully employed and support all dependents
- Avoid injurious behavior and people of “immoral” character
- Submit to home and work inspections by a probation officer
- Notify the court of any changes to home address or employer
It is important to note that people on probation often face traveling restrictions, which limit their ability to leave the state of Texas or even their county of residence. You must get a probation officer’s approval before leaving the county, otherwise you could face possible probation violation penalties.
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What Are the Penalties for Violating Probation?
When a person violates the terms of their probation, the probation officer may notify the state who can file a motion to revoke probation and ask the court to issue a warrant for your arrest. The possible penalties for a probation violation often depend on the seriousness of the criminal charges originally filed. However, outcomes in these cases generally include the following penalties:
- Warning – The probation officer may deem a violation to be minor and only issue a warning instead of referring the case to court.
- Court admonishment – The judge may have you come to court and explain they won’t put you in jail this time, but if it happens again, you’re going to jail.
- Probation amended ― The court may opt to change the conditions of probation or extend the terms of probation so an alleged offender must remain on probation for an even longer period.
- Incarceration ― The court could sentence an alleged offender to a jail or prison term.
A prosecutor only must prove a probation violation by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a low burden of proof compared to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt used in most criminal cases. You should also know that when a person does not violate probation and satisfies all their requirements they can be successfully discharged from probation. With the exception of DWI and some aggravated offenses, if a person completes the requirements of probation early, they could be eligible for early termination of their probation.
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Work With Our Texas DWI Defense Lawyer
Were you recently arrested for a DWI offense anywhere in Texas? You may want to contact Blass Law. Blass Law handles cases throughout Houston, specifically Bellaire, Galena Park, Humble, La Porte, Jacinto City, Pasadena, Sugar Land, and Tomball.
In addition, we invite you to look at our Texas DWI Laws and Facts page to get a better idea of what goes into a DWI case.
Call Blass Law Today
Call (713) 225-1900 today and our firm can review your case to determine applicable defenses to use against the criminal charges. Our firm is committed to helping you achieve the most favorable outcome for your case, and we will keep you updated on every development as we work on it.
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