A DWI Charge While on Probation in Texas

Texas man driving while intoxicated

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A DWI charge is always a serious legal matter. However, if you’re facing a DWI charge while on probation, the potential consequences are that much more significant. The State of Texas takes DWI charges very seriously, and if this is the difficult legal position you find yourself in, it’s time to consult with an experienced Round Rock DWI attorney.

Probation

A wide range of criminal charges can lead to probation, which is officially called community supervision. If you are on probation, you’ll need to comply with specific requirements ordered by the court, and your participation within the community will be overseen.

Probation Requirements

While the probation requirements ordered by Texas courts vary according to the crimes and circumstances involved, common terms include the following requirements:

  • Paying all required court costs, supervision fees, and fines

  • Attending and being on time for regularly scheduled meetings with your probation officer, which are typically required once a month

  • Maintaining a regular job in a lawful occupation

  • Refraining from breaking any laws at both the state and federal level

  • Refraining from drinking or using illicit drugs

  • Submitting to regular drug tests

  • Completing required community service hours

  • Steering clear of criminal associates

  • Allowing unscheduled visits to your home or work, including unscheduled searches, by your probation officer

Special Conditions

Texas courts can also impose special conditions for probation, which can include any combination of the following requirements – as applicable:

  • Assessment for drug and alcohol abuse

  • Participation in a victim impact program

  • Participation in a drug offender program

  • Participation in a drunk driving education program

  • Registration on the sex offender list

  • Participation in a mental health counseling program

  • Participation in life skills classes

  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

You will be assigned a probation officer (also known as a community supervision officer), and you will have to check in with him or her regularly. You’ll also need to obtain your parole officer’s permission before leaving the county or state. You’ll also need to provide financial support to any legal dependents and notify the court if you change jobs or get a new address.

Everyone on probation is required to comply with the terms the court assigns to them, and failure to do so can lead to jail time.

A DWI Charge

When you’re on probation, you are required to remain on the right side of the law, and if you’re facing a DWI charge, it can spell serious trouble. In this situation, your probation can be revoked, which means you may need to do all the jail time for the original crime behind the probation. You can also face the following fines and penalties associated with DWI charges:

  • A first DWI offense carries potential penalties that include up to $2,000 in fines, 3 to 180 days of jail time, and up to 1 year of license suspension.

  • A second offense carries potential penalties that include up to $4,000 in fines, 1 month to 1 year of jail time, and up to 2 years of license suspension.

  • A third offense carries potential penalties that include up to $10,000 in fines, 2 to 10 years of prison time, and up to 2 years of license suspension.

DWI refers to driving while intoxicated, and in Texas, that means driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher, which is the legal threshold in most states. If your driving is determined to have been adversely affected by alcohol – even if you weren’t over the legal limit – it can also lead to a DWI charge.

It’s important to recognize that being charged with DWI is not the same as being guilty of DWI. Fighting the charge with professional legal representation on your side may help you bypass highly disruptive, personally challenging, and very costly consequences and may allow you to continue on the path toward successfully completing the terms of your probation.

Being in Violation of Your Probation Requirements

Any criminal offense, including DWI, can derail your probation. If you’ve been charged with DWI, your probation officer may file a Motion to Revoke Probation. A probation violation can also lead the court to issue an arrest warrant. Ultimately, you can be arrested in response to the charge, so it’s always best to proceed with the help of a Round Rock criminal defense attorney.

If you are charged with DWI while on probation, it’s important to take all the following reminders into account:

  • Because you violated the terms of your probation by breaking the law, the court may refuse to set bond for your release, which means you’ll need to wait out your court date in jail.

  • If your attorney does manage to get you out on bail, it may be set considerably higher than it likely would have been for the underlying charge that led to your probation.

  • If your probation is revoked, you may face the original jail sentence in addition to any jail time associated with the DWI charge.

In other words, it’s important to take a DWI charge seriously from the start. Reaching out to a practiced DWI attorney with a wealth of experience handling probation violation cases can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

For example, a skilled Round Rock criminal defense attorney may be able to keep you out of jail entirely – especially if it’s a first parole violation. Potential options include the following outcomes:

  • The judge issuing you a warning

  • Your attorney negotiating increased community service hours rather than jail time

  • Your attorney negotiating altered terms and conditions regarding your probation requirements rather than jail time

Your Probation Violation Hearing

If you are accused of violating your probation, you’re entitled to a hearing at which the prosecution will present evidence in an attempt to show that you violated your probation. The state’s burden of proof for proving you committed a parole violation is less strict than it is for convicting you of a criminal charge, such as DWI, which requires proof of guilt that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

In order to prove a probation violation, the prosecution is only required to prove your guilt with a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not that you are guilty.

An important point to make here is that even a DWI charge – as opposed to a conviction – can qualify as a probation violation. In other words, defending yourself against both the DWI charge and the probation violation charge is paramount.

Because the burden of proof is lightened for a probation violation, you need a seasoned Round Rock DWI attorney to help you build your strongest case in defense of your freedom.

Probation Can Also Affect Your DWI Case

While being charged with DWI can directly affect your probation, the fact that you’re on probation can also affect the outcome of your DWI case.

DWI sentencing guidelines in the State of Texas include provisions for assigning harsher penalties to those with prior convictions on their records – including probation. As the number of convictions on your record increases, the sentences you face can become significantly harsher.

Deferred Adjudication and DWI Charges

Until recently, those facing DWI charges couldn’t receive deferred adjudication, but that changed in 2019. Since the change in the law, judges now have the authority to put those facing first DWI charges on deferred adjudication, which is a form of probation that only a judge can grant.

Deferred adjudication allows the defendant to remain in the community – rather than being under arrest – and to avoid a conviction on the DWI charge if they successfully complete the related requirements.

Deferred adjudication can only be ordered for first-time DWI offenders who don’t hold commercial driver’s licenses and who weren’t charged with the .15 percent BAC enhancement.

If you’re already on probation, deferred adjudication isn’t likely. However, a savvy Round Rock DWI attorney may be able to negotiate enhanced probationary restrictions or increased community service hours in order to keep you out of jail.

Straight Probation vs. Deferred Adjudication

Straight probation refers to probation that’s ordered after the defendant is found guilty, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest, which isn’t exactly an admission of guilt but, instead, indicates acceptance that the state has enough evidence to convict.

Once you’re sentenced to either jail or prison, all or part of the sentence can be probated. From here, the community supervision department will assign the requirements and restrictions of your probation in direct correlation with your sentence.

On the other hand, deferred adjudication is granted without a conviction. Instead, the conviction is deferred and ultimately dismissed – once the requirements are completed. Once a trial starts, deferred adjudication is off the table because only a judge –¬†not a jury – can grant this sentencing option.

Once you’ve successfully completed your deferred adjudication, you can petition the court to have your record sealed, which means it will no longer be a matter of public information. However, when it comes to federal immigration laws, a deferred adjudication is no different than a conviction.

Jail Time and a First DWI Offense

Jail sentences for first DWI convictions are often probated entirely, which means that those convicted of DWI often bypass jail time and, instead, face deferred adjudication. However, if you’re already on probation, your chances of staying out of jail decrease.

If you have a prior DWI conviction on your record that is more than 5 years old, there is a mandatory requirement of 72 continuous hours – or 3 full days – behind bars. If the prior conviction happened within 5 years of the current charge, the jail requirement increases to 5 full days of jail time.

To give yourself the best chance of avoiding jail time, contact a skilled Round Rock DWI attorney to discuss your case and build your strongest possible defense.

Complying with the Terms of Your Probation

Complying with all the terms of your probation can be challenging, but doing so is the surest means of moving past the conviction. The more goodwill you cultivate with your probation officer by sticking to the rules and forging a positive relationship with them over time, the easier things will be for you.

If you find yourself facing a DWI charge while you’re on probation, it’s a serious matter. Retaining counsel upfront and building your strongest defense from the outset can help you resolve the matter more favorably.

FAQ about DWI Charges while on Probation

Can I Fight the DWI Charge?

If you are facing a DWI charge while on probation, you can and very likely should fight the charge against you. Your dedicated Round Rock DWI attorney will fiercely advocate to have the charge against you dropped. If you don't get the charges dropped or achieve a finding of not guilty, your legal counsel will engage in skilled negotiations with the prosecution in pursuit of an advantageous outcome.

Does Being Charged with DWI Automatically Mean My Probation Will Be Revoked?

A DWI charge won’t automatically translate to a revocation of your probation. With skilled legal guidance on your side, your chances of reaching a more beneficial resolution increase substantially.

Should I Just Accept the Charge against Me?

If you’re on probation and are facing a DWI charge, you have a lot to lose. Your probation can be revoked, and you could end up doing all the jail time you would have done for the original charge – in addition to any time sentenced for the DWI conviction. Bringing your strongest defense in the face of a criminal charge like DWI is always advised, and a focused Round Rock DWI attorney can help you with that.

You Need an Experienced Round Rock DWI Attorney on Your Side

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Round Rock, Texas, for many years – is an accomplished DWI attorney who recognizes that facing a DWI charge while on probation is a delicate situation to be in.

Mr. Pritchard has the legal finesse to help you come out with the best possible resolution. For more information about what our standout legal team can do for you, please don’t wait to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 and schedule your FREE consultation today.

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