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Deferred Adjudication for DWI

Texas has been infamous in the last ten years for its stringent driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws. DWI offenders are expected to complete numerous conditions to their sentence including expensive fines, possible restitution, community service, DWI classes, alcohol monitoring devices and even incarceration. In addition, Texas was one of the few states that didn’t allow DWI offenders to obtain deferred adjudication until September 1st, 2019.

The new legislation now allows people convicted of DWI to obtain deferred adjudication for their charges if they qualify. This has made a huge impact in how Texas trial handles DWI cases. DWI offenders can finally petition for deferred adjudication and completely expunge their record if they’ve successfully completed the program. The new law could help countless people complete their professional and personal goals now since they will no longer have a criminal record looming over them.

Allowing DWI offenders to obtain deferred adjudication doesn’t just help those charged, but it assists the district attorney’s office. In 1984, when Texas banned DWI offenders from obtaining deferred adjudication, prosecutors found themselves stuck with a backlog of DWI cases. This was because the new legislation made plea deals much less flexible, meaning more people were willing to go to trial. In the end, the deferred adjudication ban lead to more money cost and harm rather than good.

Lawyer for Deferred Adjudication in Georgetown, TX

Were you arrested or charged with DWI recently? If so, we highly recommend you hire legal representation such as Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C.. New laws have been passed this year that could allow you to obtain deferred adjudication for your DWI charges. This means you might avoid having a conviction on your record and even have the charges expunged entirely later. To learn more, we suggest you get in contact with Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C..

Michael J. Price is a criminal defense attorney with a special focus in DWI. He not only has years of experience with assisting clients with deferred adjudication but has represented countless clients charged with DWI. Get in contact with Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C. by calling (512) 354-1880. Attorney Price operates throughout the Williamson County and Bell County area including Georgetown, Hutto, Taylor, Jarrell, Liberty Hill, Killeen, Temple, Belton and Harker Heights.

Overview of Deferred Adjudication in Texas


How Does Deferred Adjudication Work in Texas?

Deferred adjudication is an alternative type of community supervision also known as probation. The program is very similar to standard probation and shares a lot of the same rehabilitative conditions. Both community supervision and deferred adjudication require you to enter a plea, but if you successfully petition for deferred adjudication, then the judge will adjudicate your guilt rather than putting a conviction on your criminal record

When a person completes their deferred adjudication program, they won’t have any conviction on their record. An arrest may be still visible on the offender’s record if it occurred, but the best part about deferred adjudication is that those who have successfully completed it can have their charges and arrest sealed completely after they wait an appropriate period.

Probation, on the other hand, could result in you having a conviction on your record depending on the circumstances. However, even if the judge dismisses your charges after you finish the program you will not be eligible to seal the charges or arrest entirely. Only those who have finished a deferred adjudication program are eligible to have their record sealed.

Unfortunately, deferred adjudication is not available to everyone. Certain offenders with a specific criminal history or have had their guilt deferred in the last five years won’t be able to be granted deferred adjudication. You cannot obtain deferred adjudication if you have a prior conviction for:


In 2019 Texas Allows DWI Offenders to Get Deferred Adjudication

It was in 1984 that Texas decided to implement a ban on allowing DWI offenders to receive deferred adjudication. The purpose of this legislation was to decrease the number of DWI-related crashes and fatalities because Texas had experienced a surge of DWI accidents. However, the legislation did not have the desired effect.

Instead of reducing the number of DWI-related accidents the new law lead to a backlog of DWI cases at the state attorney’s office. Prosecutors were not able to handle the number of DWI cases because they were no longer able to be flexible with pleading. More offenders were willing to go to trial to avoid having criminal charges on their record, which meant more resources and time were dedicated towards DWI cases.

This resulted in Texas courts having more DWI cases then they can handle and no decrease in DWI-related accidents. After decades of fighting to repeal the ban, Texas finally allowed first-time DWI offenders to obtain deferred adjudication with their new “second change” law.

If you’re convicted of DWI, you can now apply for deferred adjudication if it’s your first offense and you haven’t had your guilt adjudication within the last five years. Certain violent DWI offenses such as intoxication assault or manslaughter don’t qualify for deferred adjudication.

Judges must apply certain conditions to a deferred adjudication sentence for DWI charges. You must have an alcohol monitoring device of some sort. If you own a car, then you’ll be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) attached to your vehicle. If you don’t own a motor vehicle, then you must have a portable alcohol monitor (PAM). Both devices monitor you blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and notify the appropriate authorities if you blow over the legal limit of .08 BAC.


What’s the Difference Between Deferred Adjudication and Probation in Texas?

Both probation and deferred adjudication are types of community supervision. However, they both end in different outcomes. You are required to enter a plea of guilty or no contest, but when you have deferred adjudication the judge adjudicates your guilt. It means you won’t have a conviction on your record at all. This differs from probation because when a judge sentences it the offender must have a conviction on their record.

The term probation literally means the judge “probates” your sentence and allows you to complete the program instead of spending time in jail or prison. Unfortunately, being sentenced to probation doesn’t mean others can’t access your criminal record. Employers, licensing agencies, landlords, and others can look up your conviction, charges or arrest. It also means if you commit another crime then this prior conviction can be used against you in court.

The biggest downside to probation is that you can’t qualify for non-disclosure. Petitioning for non-disclosure is the only way you can successfully seal your records from the public. If you can obtain it, then employers, landlords, licensing agencies and your peers won’t be able to bring up your charges with a background check.

When a judge grants you deferred adjudication it means they are “adjudicating” your guilt. Essentially, your guilt will be differed until you finish the program. If you violate the terms and conditions of the program, the judge may implement your guilt once again and you may be required to finish your sentence in jail or prison. However, if you complete the deferred adjudication terms, then you can qualify for non-disclosure.

You must wait an appropriate amount of time to petition for non-disclosure, but you will be able seal your record completely if you do. This means no one will be able to bring up your charges, arrest or conviction unless they are a specific government agency.


Additional Resources

Administrative License Revocation Hearing – Visit the official website for the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Access the site to learn more about the DWI and refusal suspensions, how long the suspension terms are, what happens when you fail DWI testing and how to apply for a hardship license with an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing.

Texas Deferred Adjudication Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about their community supervision and deferred adjudication. Access the site to learn more about how you qualify for them, the terms and conditions for each process and what happens if you violate their terms and conditions.


Attorney for DWI Deferred Adjudication in Williamson County, TX

If you or someone you know has been arrested for deferred adjudication, then we highly suggest you hire an attorney you can trust. New legal options exist for DWI offenders and you may be able to get your guilt deferred. For an experienced and skilled lawyer, we suggest Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C..

Michael J. Price is a criminal defense attorney with years of practice representing DWI offenders. He understands how Texas courts work and can use that knowledge to your advantage. Call him now at (512) 354-1880 to set up your first consultation free.

Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Georgetown area such as Killeen, Temple, Belton, Georgetown, Hutto and Taylor.


This article was last updated on December 4th, 2019. 

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