Update: New DWI Laws after the 86th Legislative Session
Deferred Adjudication for DWI Offenses: It’s a Trap!
What is Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication involves the accused pleading guilty to the charged offense, the judge finding that person guilty, but withholding that finding upon the completion of deferred adjudication and the conditions attached. Upon a successful completion of the deferred adjudication the case is dismissed and the arrest record can be blocked (i.e. nondisclosure).
If I have been charged with DWI am I eligible for deferred adjudication.
For persons accused of DWI on or after September 1, 2019 the answer is yes, if:
- The person is not accused of an intoxication offense under 49.045, 49.05, 49.065, 49.07, or 49.08; or
- The person was not driving with a commercial driver’s license or permit;
- A blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more;
Will I have to have an interlock on my car?
For the most part, yes. A condition of the deferred adjudication will be the requirement of an interlock, unless the court finds, after a controlled substance and alcohol evaluation, the interlock is not necessary for the safety of the community.
What is the difference between DWI pretrial intervention (PTI) and DWI deferred adjudication (DADJ)?
Some counties, Harris County included, offer DWI PTI programs if specific requirements are met. DWI PTI is an agreement between the district attorney’s office and the accused where the accused agrees to a number of conditions in exchange for a dismissal at the conclusion of the program (typically one year). With a DWI PTI the accused DOES NOT enter a plea of guilty.
A DWI DADJ means a person pleads guilty to the DWI offense, but the court withholds a finding of guilt and places the person on deferred adjudication for a specific time period. At the conclusion of the deferred adjudication, the accused is discharged and the case is dismissed.
There are two key differences between DWI PTI and DWI DADJ. DWI PTI can be erased or expunged and cannot be used against the accused as an enhancement should the person be accused of DWI again. DWI DADJ, on the other hand, can only be blocked by a nondisclosure. District attorneys, police and other state agencies and licensing boards may still have access to the records. Additionally, DWI DADJ can be used as an enhancement should a person be arrested again for DWI.
What is the difference between DWI probation and DWI deferred adjudication?
DWI probation is where a person pleads guilty, the court finds that person guilty and orders a sentence, but suspends the sentence and places the person on a probationary term. DWI probation, like deferred can be used as an enhancement against a person should they be accused again of DWI and can not be erased or expunged (but can be blocked if the accused has never been arrested before).
DWI Lawyer Conclusion on DWI Deferred Adjudication
In reality DWI DADJ is not much different than DWI Probation and there are better options. DWI PTI explained above is a better option. Setting the case for trial is another. Even time served (person receives credit for the time spent in jail and pays a fine) would be a better option for most than DWI DADJ. Beware, It’s a trap!
Texas DWI & DUI Surcharge & Fines
The DWI surcharge repeal will eliminate all pending and unpaid surcharges imposed before it becomes effective on 09-01-19 and allow for any person’s license suspended as a result of unpaid surcharges to be reinstated. This is the good.
The bad is beginning 09-01-19 there will now be “state fines,” in addition to any other statutory fines (e.g. up to $2000 for a first offense, Class B DWI) ranging from $3000 – $6000.
Houston DWI Lawyer’s Conclusion on the New DWI Fines
These fines will take on greater significance in plea bargaining, as the nature of the plea will effect the quantity of the fine that may be imposed. DWI, already a cash cow for Texas, just became a lot more expensive.