What to know about probation for a first time DWI arrest in the state of Texas.
Going through a court appearance and trial for a DWI offense can cause a spout of nerves and anxiety in anyone. When you're sitting in front of the judge, awaiting the results of your case, it can be hard to keep the worried thoughts from passing through your head: What kind of fines am I going to have to pay? How is this going to affect my future plans and goals? Am I going to have to go to jail?
Luckily in many cases, as long you don't have any prior DWI convictions, the judge will most likely suspend your entire jail sentence and, instead, will place you on probation. However, don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet―Driving while intoxicated in Texas is a serious offense and, therefore, probation for a DWI is not to be taken lightly.
The state of Texas defines probations as the “conditional release of an eligible prisoner” and can last anywhere from six months to two years for a first-offense DWI conviction. If any of the probation requirements are not met, including something as simple as forgetting to check in with your probation officer, the individual on probation may be charged with probation violation, a crime that brings with it the possibility of more fines, jail time and community service hours.
Because of these severe consequences, it is extremely important that you follow the probation guidelines 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 not too different from many other states. It is basically an agreement that is set between you and the judge committing that they've agreed not to impose a jail sentence (also referred to as “suspending a 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 “probationary period” and may last up to two years for a first-time DWI offense.
What Must You Do During DWI Probation?
When you are put on probation for a DWI charge, the judge will assign you a set list of “do's and don'ts” for the entire length of your probation period. During this time, there are several things that you must do:
- Pay Fees: In addition the money you must pay for your DWI fine, you may also have several additional fees that you will be required to pay such as court costs, attorney fees, payment of restitution, etc.
- Attend Meetings with Probation Officers: All individuals who are on DWI probation will be assigned a probation officer that they will meet with on a regular bases. These officers verify to a judge than an individual has fulfilled the terms of their probation.
- Attend Required Meetings: Some people who are on probation for a DWI may be required to attend special classes as ordered by the court. Some of these classes may include a DWI Education Class or completing a Victim Impact Panel. You usually have six months to require all classes set through your probation.
- Submit to Testing: All Texas residents on DWI probation are required to submit periodic alcohol and/or drug tests. If any problem is detected, additional terms and conditions may be added on to your probation.
If you are put on probation after a DWI offense or 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.
Not only will this help you avoid the maximum punishment that may be set by a district attorney, but a DWI lawyer can also help you to minimize the consequences of your probation violations. While you have the right to plead innocent and have a defense presented during your case, this is almost always best accomplished with the help of an experienced DWI lawyer.