DWI Probation in Texas: What You Need to Know

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DWI probation is a great alternative to a first-time conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, it does not mean you are fully off the hook. In Texas, the requirements of probation after a DWI are quite onerous. 

Moreover, if you violate your probation, it likely results in jail time. Let’s take a look at this probation so that you know what to expect. 

What Is the Law around DWI Probation in Texas?

For a DWI charge, probation falls under Chapter 42A of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. In this chapter, the law describes probation as “community supervision.” Moreover, it allows for probated DWI sentences. 

This places convicted individuals under community supervision. As such, it allows people to avoid jail time. Unfortunately, some circumstances still require a minimum jail time. 

Minimum Jail Sentences and Probation

For a first-time DWI, it’s possible for an entire sentence to be probated. This means you serve no jail time and instead serve probation. However, if you have a prior DWI offense on your record more than 5 years prior, you have to serve a minimum of 72 continuous hours in jail. This is true even when the judge grants you probation. 

That means 3 full days in jail. For example, there’s no way to report in at 8 pm and leave by 12:01 am after 16 hours. 

Additionally, if you have a second or subsequent offense related to drunk driving in fewer than 5 years, you have to serve a minimum of 5 days in jail. 

For a third offense or more, it requires no less than 10 days – and not less than 30 days for intoxication assault. Moreover, intoxication manslaughter requires a minimum term of 120 days as a condition of probation.  

What Are the Conditions of DWI Probation?

For DWI probation in Texas, the law sets requirements for community supervision. When a judge has good cause, they may waive some requirements. However, others are mandatory. 

Additionally, judges have many conditions to apply as they see fit. As such, every case is different and has the potential for different results. 

Here are some of the most common conditions of probation for a DWI. 

  • Three 4-hours DWI classes to be completed within 6 months 
  • Drug or alcohol dependence evaluation
  • Fines and court fees (often around $1000) 
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) Victim Impact Panel
  • No drinking or drug use 
  • Community service (anywhere from 24 to 100 hours) 
  • Random drug testing 
  • No other offenses during the probation period 
  • Install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle (comes with a note on your license stating you can only operate vehicles with this device)
  • Monthly meetings with your probation officer 
  • Remain gainfully employed and continue to support your dependents
  • Submit to home and work inspections from your probation officer
  • Avoid harmful behavior and individuals with “immoral” character
  • Notify the court when you change address or employers
  • Receive permission from the court before you leave the country

DWI Probation Violations

When someone accuses you of a probation violation, you have the right to a hearing in front of a judge. In this case, the state has to prove the violation of your probation. Moreover, it requires a preponderance of evidence, which means the burden of proof is on them. 

If you violated your DWI probation, whether purposefully or unintentionally, it is essential to work with a Houston DWI lawyer. When you act quickly, you have more options available. 

When the state revokes your probation, they sentence you to confinement. Unfortunately, the mandatory jail sentence imposed as a condition of probation does not count toward this term. 

Oftentimes, a probation violation in a DWI case stems from a “dirty blow” on an interlock device. However, it’s important to have a DWI defense attorney review your probation terms to see the precise conditions of your case. 

Early Release from DWI Probation

Under Chapter 42A Section 701, a judge has the authority to grant early release from probation. However, this does not apply to DWI convictions. Unfortunately, that means that early release is not a possibility with DWI probation in Texas. 

Still, some counties allow probationers to go into a “non-reporting” status. Typically, this requires the successful completion of certain probation terms. Moreover, this often allows people to have an interlock device removed. 

When the court orders an interlock device for DWI probation, the law requires installation for at least 50% of the period. The opportunity for removal exists on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, it varies with the judge overseeing your case as well as the county. 

DWI Probation & Houston DWI Lawyers

If you face drunk driving charges or an accusation of probation violation, call an attorney for legal assistance. The sooner you work with a lawyer, the more options you have. 

In Texas, it’s important to remember that no judge has the legal authority to end community supervision early. However, your attorney will help you explore your options. When possible, they can help you explore the potential for a non-reporting status. 

With decades of experience working in Houston and Harris County, Herman Martinez has the experience and expertise to help you determine the best possible outcome for your case. To learn more about your specific case, schedule a free consultation today.