Probation and Community Service
DWI Probation in Texas
DWI probation in Texas is the alternative to a jail sentence which would have been handed out by the jury or judge upon a guilty verdict after trial. Most people would think that sounds like a pretty good deal. But there are strings attached. Jumping at any deal that a prosecutor offers isn’t the way to go. You need a Tyler TX DWI attorney who can analyze the terms of the deal and ensure that it’s what’s best for you.
What Is DWI Probation in Texas?
Texas has some of the nation’s toughest laws when it comes to DWI sentencing. But attempts were made in the past to soften the impact while simultaneously ensuring that individual was maintaining compliance with the requirements of a DWI conviction. In the end, the DWI probation program became as bad if not worse than serving out a jail sentence.
Nonetheless, prosecutors still offer it to those charged with DWI and defendants still take the offer because it sounds better than jail.
What Is the DWI Probation Process?
DWI probation works just like any kind of probation in Texas. The charges against you are deferred upon the completion of your probation program and they’re dismissed at the end if you successfully complete it. In other cases, the sentence against you might be suspended either in whole or in part while you complete your probation. Sounds great, right? But there is a caveat.
Requirements for DWI Probation in Texas
The deal is extended to you only under the condition that you meet specific requirements. Those requirements include paying probation fees to the court. These fees can, depending on the length of your probation, add up to more than the fines exacted by the court. If you’re found in violation of your probation, you may end up paying the probation fees and the fines together.
And there’s more. The court may require that you:
- Spend X days in jail probated for Y months
- Pay X fine with Y amount probated, maybe
- Perform X hours of community service … a requirement to pick up trash on the side of the road, or time volunteering at the hospital, Camp Tyler, or whatever
- Attend a DWI education class, at your cost
- Don’t drink any alcohol and don’t go where it’s served, which knocks out most restaurants, except Luby’s, Traditions, McDonald’s, etc.
- Attend an alcohol education class or Alcoholic’s Anonymous twice or thrice a week
- Report to a probation officer once a month and pay a $70 fee each time
- Take a urinalysis test each time, or upon request
- Don’t associate with disreputable folks, (a good thing)
- Maybe suspend your driver’s license
- Maybe require a breath machine in your car
- possibly need to get an Occupational Driver’s License to get to work
- Unlike other offenses, DWI probation cannot be “early terminated”!
Understanding the Cost of Probation
Not only will the courts make you jump through one hoop after another picking up garbage and going to AA meetings, but they will also hit you where it hurts the most: Your wallet. The court will require you to pay for just about everything related to your probation. This includes:
- Fees each time you report to your probation officer
- DWI education fees for any classes you’re required to take
- Fees related to the interlock ignition device you’re forced to install
- Court costs
- Costs related to your substance abuse evaluation
- Victim impact panel fee
- Crime stoppers fee
- Fees related to the use of a credit card
- Fees related to installment plans
Can I Just Choose to Go to Jail?
If the court offers you probation, you can, if the circumstances warrant it, just serve out your sentence in lieu of going on probation. Many actually choose to do just that. And some who have taken deals for probation wish they had.
The court will not force you to go through probation, but it may require some of the same actions on your part. This can include substance abuse counseling, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your car, and going to a DWI safety course. But at least you’ll still be able to eat at your favorite restaurants. You may also be allowed to serve your sentence on weekends which will not impact your work.
Should I Choose Probation Over Jail?
You shouldn’t choose probation without first consulting an attorney. DWI may seem like a routine offense, but this ungodly probation deal was actually offered under the pretense that it was less destructive to people’s lives than a conviction. The conviction will remain on your record if you plead guilty, but you do have another option. You can fight the charges.
A skilled Tyler TX DWI attorney will evaluate the charges against you. There is plenty of room to find holes in the prosecution’s case and probably stand a better chance than you think of winning before a jury.
I Can’t Afford Probation Without Going Into Serious Debt
Many have remarked that probation is a way to pay your way out of jail. There’s an element of truth to that because probation is much more costly than fines associated with DWI. And when courts give people jail sentences, they tend not to fine them as harshly.
In other words, many are forced to take jail time because it’s simply too expensive not to, and it’s simple. You serve your time, and then you’ve paid your debt.
Is DWI Probation Really a Good Alternative?
Not usually, but sometimes. If you can afford it, it can allow you to keep yourself out of jail.
Speak to a DWI Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with DWI, your first order of business is to contact a skilled DWI attorney who can evaluate the charges against you. Then, if it makes sense, you can accept a DWI probation in Texas knowing exactly what the consequences will look like compared to a conviction. Talk to John Eastland, Attorney at Law today to learn more.
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