DWI Process – Stage 3: After the DWI Case
Every DWI case will eventually result in either a dismissal, acquittal or conviction. Only a judge can dismiss a case. This usually happens when the prosecutor agrees to no longer pursue any charges. If the case goes to trial, the finder of fact (either a judge or a jury) will determine whether the DWI defendant is “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” If the defendant is found Not Guilty, this is known as an Acquittal. If the defendant is found Guilty, or if the defendant pleads guilty before a trial, the DWI defendant is convicted. If the DWI defendant is convicted, then he or she will be either put on probation or confined to jail.
DWI: AFTER COURT
Once a case has resulted in a dismissal, acquittal or conviction, the case is over and is considered “disposed.” The third stage of the DWI process begins after a case has been disposed. What happens in this third stage of the DWI Process depends on how the case was disposed. If the defendant was acquitted of the DWI charge, then he or she will be entitled to an expunction that will wipe out all records of the arrest and court proceedings. If the case was dismissed, then the defendant may be entitled to an expunction depending on certain factors discussed in depth below. If the defendant was convicted, then the defendant will either be put on probation or confined to jail. There are a number of other penalties associated with a DWI conviction, and those are discussed below. In addition, there are a whole range of issues that come up with DWI probation.
In this article about the third stage of the DWI Process we discuss DWI Probation, Expunction and penalties for a DWI conviction, including license suspensions. Learn more about the other stages of the DWI Process
DWI Probation shares many of the same characteristics as probation arising out of any other criminal conviction, but there are several things that make DWI Probation unique.The conditions of DWI Probation usually contain more intensive requirements than other probation sentences. The specific conditions will vary court to court and case to case. Probation requirements differ significantly among the Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) counties, and so do many other probation processes.
Typically, conditions of probation out of a DWI charge include DWI classes and a “no alcohol” condition. DWI probation conditions may also require the continuation of the mandatory use of an interlock device. If you are placed on probation, you will usually have to attend a “Probation Orientation” soon after the judge sentences you. This is where you will learn details about how to successfully complete the terms of your probation. Learn more details about DWI probation
If you are on probation, the court’s probation officers will monitor you for compliance with the terms of your probation. State prosecutors may petition the court to revoke your probation if they believe you have violated the terms of your probation. Usually a probation officer will send the prosecutors and a judge a notice that the probation office thinks you are in violation. If the state then attempts to revoke your probation, you are entitled to a hearing on the motion to revoke where a judge will hear the state’s case and any evidence that you present. If the judge believes, by a preponderance of the evidence, that you have violated your probation, the judge has the authority to revoke your probation and force you to serve the remainder of your sentence in jail.
If you are facing a probation revocation hearing, it is important that you hire an attorney as soon as possible to defend you in this proceeding. The odds are stacked against you in a Probation Revocation hearing, so you need to be aggressive about producing and presenting a defense strategy. The earlier that you contact an attorney, the more opportunities you may have to resolve the situation without going to jail.
Another DWI Probation issue that comes up frequently is getting an interlock device removed early or going on “non-reporting status.” The likelihood of success on these issues and the amount of work required depend heavily on the specific court in which your case is being probated. One important note is that Texas law specifically prohibits courts from ending DWI Probation early. Other probation periods may be terminated early under certain circumstances, but DWI Probation cannot be terminated early. Anyone who tells you differently is flat out wrong.
Expunction Availability for DWI Offenses
If you are convicted of a DWI offense, whether that conviction is pursuant to a guilty plea or a guilty verdict, you are not eligible to have your record expunged in Texas. However, if you have been found Not Guilty by a jury or a judge, you are eligible to have your record expunged. If your DWI case has been dismissed, you may be entitled to expungement as well, but it depends on the circumstances of the dismissal and the court that you were convicted in. What makes this challenging is conflicting law about whether expunction eligibility is “arrest” based or “offense” based. If the DWI dismissal was a “straight dismissal” with no other charges arising out of the incident, then you will be entitled to an expunction no matter what. However, if the DWI charge was dismissed but you were convicted on another charge arising out of the same incident (for instance, an “obstruction” charge), then whether or not you are entitled to an expunction depends on whether the court follows the “arrest” or “offense” based approach to expunctions.
Another important thing to note is that Texas law prohibits Deferred Adjudication for DWI offenses. Deferred Adjudication and Non-Disclosure are not available as a plea bargain option for DWI cases. So if you are not eligible for an expunction after a DWI arrest, then you will have the arrest on your record forever.
Consequences of DWI Conviction
If you are convicted of a DWI, then you will face a range of penalties beyond just the criminal punishment of probation and jail. Among the most severe are the $1,000 per year license surcharge, auto insurance rate hikes that usually triple what you had been paying, a potential suspension of your license and the cost of getting it reinstated and obtaining an Occupational Driver’s License, embarrassment and the interference with your employment. Learn about the full range of consequences for a DWI conviction
Before you plead guilty, you should be aware of all of the consequences of a DWI conviction. There are many reasons why we consider a DWI charge a “High-stakes Misdemeanor.” In addition to the DWI consequences, you may be facing job losses, immigration consequences and the loss of other privileges and opportunities. Learn more about High-stakes Misdemeanors