Overview of Court-Ordered DWI Probation in Texas
When a person is charged with a DWI offense, it is completely normal to be anxious about what the effects of a DWI conviction can be. During the time the case is pending, many people may be concerned about what could happen in the event that they are convicted of a DWI. The fact is that most people convicted of a first-time DWI are sentenced to DWI probation.
Many folks may have questions about what a conviction for DWI means, like:
- What kind of fines and fees you may have to pay
- How is this going to affect my future plans and goals?
- Am I going to have to go to jail?
The good news is that for a first-time DWI case, the judge will most likely probate or suspend the entire jail sentence, so that rather than going to jail you will have to submit to the supervision of the probation department for a period of time. While it is not as humiliating and burdensome as jail time, probation can still be a major inconvenience. Driving while Intoxicated in Texas is a serious offense and court-ordered probation for a DWI carries significant required burdens for the probationer. It is important to remember, however, that most of the requirements of the DWI probation are designed to help ensure that the probationer does not re-offend, but instead is successful on probation and ultimately in life.
The state of Texas defines probation as “community supervision,” which means the probationer remains in the “community” and is “supervised” by a probation officer. The length of probation can be from as little as six months to as long as two years for a first-offense DWI conviction. If the probationer does not do any of the probation requirements, including something as simple as forgetting to report to the probation officer, he can be charged with a probation violation, that can result in re-arrest, incarceration and the possibility of additional fines, jail time and community service hours.
Because of these severe consequences, it is extremely important for anyone on DWI probation to follow the probation conditions set by the judge and probation officer and immediately contact an experienced DWI lawyer if you violate your probation. In the mean time, it is important to understand just what happens when you are put on probation for a DWI.
What is Probation?
Probation for a DWI in Texas is basically an agreement or contract between the probationer (you) and the judge. The heart of the agreement is that the judge promises to “probate” or “suspend” a jail sentence as long as you agree to follow a strict list of rules throughout the period of your probation. This period of time is called the “period of probation” and may last up to two years for a first-time DWI offense. In the event that the agreement is breached by you, the judge can decide not to continue to “suspend” the sentence and can instead order that you serve the jail time that the judge agreed to suspend in the initial hearing.
What is Required of You on DWI Probation?
When you are put on probation for a DWI charge, the judge will assign you a list of “do’s and don’t’s” for the entire term of your probation period. During this time, there are several things that you must do:
- Pay Fees: Ordinarily there is a fine associated with a DWI probation, but you will also have several additional fees that you will be required to pay such as court costs, restitution, and probation supervision fees. Court costs are generally in the $350-$400 range, and probation supervision fees are generally $60 per month.
- Report to the Probation Officer: Everyone who is placed on DWI probation will be assigned a probation officer that they will meet with on a regular basis. These meetings are generally once per month but they can be more frequent for risky individuals or less frequent for more compliant probationers. The probation officer works for the judge to ensure that the individual has fulfilled the terms of their probation.
- Attend Required Meetings: Everyone who is on probation for a DWI must attend special classes as ordered by the court. Some of these classes will include the DWI Education Program, and most courts will want you to complete a Victim Impact Panel run by the local MADD chapter. In Williamson county you will also have to view the “Jacqueline” video at the probation department. You will generally have to complete all classes ordered through your probation within six months.
- Submit to Testing: All Texas residents on DWI probation are required to submit periodic alcohol and/or drug tests. If any problems are detected, it is likely that additional classes, community service hours and/or jail time will be added on to your probation.
What Happens if I Mess Up While On Probation?
If you are accused of committing a probation violation for a DWI in Texas, it will be very beneficial for you to receive the guidance of an experienced DWI attorney like Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney Russ Hunt, Jr. With early intervention, it may be possible to avoid the filing of revocation warrants or the ultimate revocation of probation even in the event of a probation violation.
An experienced DWI lawyer can quite possibly help you not just to avoid the maximum punishment that may be sought by the prosecutor, but a DWI lawyer can also help you to minimize the consequences of your probation violations. You always have the right to plead “not true” to your probation violation allegations and have a defense presented during your case, but this is almost always best accomplished with the help of an experienced DWI lawyer.
Contact Russ Hunt Jr. now for a FREE, confidential, secure consultation and case evaluation. Call 512-930-0860 or fill out the contact form.