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Facts About First-Offense DWI Probation in Texas

Posted by Douglas Wilder | Jan 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

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.

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About the Author

Douglas Wilder

Douglas Wilder is a graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of 1989), where he was recognized by the College of Engineering as a Distinguished Student. Doug's first job as he worked his way through law school was with a prominent criminal defense attorney in Houston.  There he gained valuable trial, motion and brief writing experience. During the summer after his second year of law school, Doug conducted Court hearings on a law student bar card while employed by the Denver County District Attorney's office in Colorado. Doug spent his final year of law school working for the Harris County District Attorney's in Houston, where he tried cases for the District Attorney. Upon graduating from South Texas College of Law, Doug worked for Vinson & Elkins, LLP in Houston and was assigned to a multi-billion dollar national lawsuit, which sent Doug all over the country. Making contacts in Washington, D.C, he then went to work for the Ambassador of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. as his legal liaison.  Doug assisted the Ambassador in all legal matters and international lawsuits affecting the Embassy and Ecuador. Even though Doug was offered the opportunity to work for the Ambassadors' international law firm in Ecuador, his passion for criminal trials brought him back to Texas where he began prosecuting for the Denton County District Attorney's office in 1995. Doug quickly became a Chief Prosecutor and had an excellent conviction rate. He earned a reputation for aggressively prosecuting the cases that were difficult to win, which he did with great success. Doug also took an active role in training police officers how to investigate, collect and preserve evidence concerning DWIs, and how to effectively testify in Court.  Doug's excellent trial skills enabled him to train other prosecutors to become more effective trial lawyers. In January 1999, Doug was hired by the Dallas County District Attorney's office, where he continued to have an excellent conviction rate. Doug tried a case against nationally known Houston attorney, Gary Trichter, who was assisted by a nationally known jury consultant, Robert Hirschhorn, along with three other well-known lawyers. After several days in a hotly contested trial, the jury chose to convict. Doug's natural trial ability and aggressive demeanor contributed to his continued success in the Courtroom. After obtaining a conviction against a prominent defense attorney who brags of never losing, Doug was courted by him and joined his boutique firm in January 2000. Within two months, Doug's aggressive trial style enabled him to get his first felony not guilty verdict from a jury for his client facing life in prison for the offense of a direct delivery of a controlled substance to an undercover officer in a crack house. The Judge was so impressed that she put Doug on her Court Appointment list. Doug is known for successfully trying cases that are very difficult to win. After many of Doug's jury trials, his peers often ask “how did you win that case?” to which he simply replies “you just had to be there.” After one specific DWI Not Guilty, the Judge, in talking to Doug's client about the verdict, described Doug's performance as “magic.” It is also common for jurors to ask Doug for his business card, even those potential jurors who sat through the selection process but were not picked. Doug started his own firm in 2002, growing his practice one client at a time.  He has been trained and qualified as a Practitioner and Instructor in Standardized Field Sobriety testing. He knows what the police know, and then some. He has received formal Drug Recognition Expert training, and has been extensively trained on the Intoxilyzer 5000, the Breathalyzer used by the police. He devotes himself to each client, realizing that anything less than his best efforts is unacceptable. Doug hates to lose in trial and knows how much his clients depend on him to keep their lives intact. His excellent abilities were honored when D Magazine named him one of the Best Lawyers under 40 in Dallas in 2004. Texas Monthly named Doug a Rising Star Super Lawyer in 2004, 2005, and 2006. His continued success is attributed to his “must win” attitude and work ethic. Doug is a member of the State Bar of Texas, National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the National College for DUI Defense. He has a beautiful wife with whom he runs marathons, and they have two wonderful children, Bryanna and Aidan


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