A lot has been said about the Houston, Harris County, Texas DWI DIVERT
program since it was started earlier this year. I see both sides of the
debate. It can be a positive for those that are clearly intoxicated and
want to maintain a "clear record." On the other hand, it may
unfairly sway the person that has a case that could be won in a jury trial
from proceeding to trial when the DIVERT carrot is placed in front of
them. Moreover, the prosecutors are less likely to dismiss the DWI case
because they have the program at their disposal. Therefore, it takes a
self confident person to reject the DIVERT offer and proceed to trial.
Today, I had my first trial of a client that declined to enter into a DIVERT
contract with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. The facts
could have gone either way based on the offense report and the video.
Nevertheless, as any
DWI trial attorney will tell you, what is written in an offense report can change dramtically
once an officer gets into the witness stand before a jury. Lets just say
this, after the arresting officer, the state's first witness finished
testifying the prosecutor decided to dismiss the case. I can say without
a doubt in my mind that the prosecutor did the right thing. Thus, my client
avoided entering into the rigid DIVERT program. Despite it's name
it is still like probation and in some instances even more difficult.