What Is DWI Probation, and What Should I Know About It?
If you’re charged with a DWI, you may choose to fight your charges, ask for deferred judgment, or take a plea deal that replaces potential jail time with community supervision (probation). Any solution that can keep you from being locked up is a good one. Probation can also reduce the amount you owe in fines. However, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
DWI probation comes with strict requirements including:
- Attending DWI/substance use education sessions
- Paying fines
- Performing community service
- Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car, and not driving any car that does not have one
- Taking regular tests to determine if you’ve been using drugs or alcohol
Probation for a misdemeanor (like most DWIs) can last for up to 2 years. It can be hard to give up alcohol for that long, especially when you’re around people who are celebrating holidays and other occasions. If you slip up, you could be arrested and end up in jail regardless of how much of your probation you’ve already served—or your excellent behavior up to that point.
What Happens After an Arrest for a Probation Violation?
If you’re caught doing anything that goes against the terms of your probation, you can legally be arrested and detained without a warrant. Within less than a month, you’ll face a hearing where the judge will listen to the allegations facing you. That means you don’t have much time to find a lawyer and put together a strong defense.
Punishments for DWI Probation Violations
An affirmative finding that you violated your probation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to jail. Judges have leeway to levy punishments including:
- Increased community service hours
- Extension of probation period
- Increased fines
However, if you are found guilty of seriously and flagrantly violating the terms of your probation, the judge may reverse their decision to allow probation. This means you would go to jail and potentially have to pay more in fines than you were charged under your probation agreement.
If you were originally arrested for a felony, the judge may order you to attend treatment for alcohol use. As mentioned above, they may also prolong your probation, but not indefinitely: Extended, probation may not exceed 3 years for a misdemeanor or 10 years for a felony.
Should I Just Say No to Probation?
It’s true that some Texans would rather just serve jail time than abide by the terms (and costs) of probation. Many will even recommend it, claiming you can just serve your sentence on weekends, thereby causing minimal disruption to your life. This isn’t always true. Rumors about DWI treatment are often spread by those trying to take advantage of anyone in a tough situation, or by well-meaning friends who want to support you after an arrest. Before you make any decisions, call a DWI lawyer who’s familiar with the system to go over the options with you.
Legal Help for Probationary Matters
If you’ve been caught drinking, using drugs, or breaking other terms of your probation, don’t try to defend yourself. Our team has experience helping clients who have been accused of and arrested for probation violations. We know just how much is on the line, and we’ll keep fighting for you.
There are many reasons someone may not be able to keep up with the protocols set out for them, and often a good lawyer can convince the judge that leniency is the best option. Especially with DWI or other intoxication crimes, we understand that it’s hard to stop using. What you need in this situation isn’t a jail sentence—it supports while you try to turn your life around.