First Time DWI Offenders: An Opportunity for a Second Chance

October 01, 2019

Texas has recently passed a bill that gives first-time DWI offenders a second chance by allowing them the option to have the charge deferred.


What does this mean?

If you have been charged with a DWI for the first time on or after September 1, 2019, you are now eligible for deferred probation. After the charge is deferred, the driver must enter into the deferred adjudication program and complete an ignition interlock period successfully. Once the individual complies with all the conditions of the probation and does everything right, then the conviction will not appear on their record. This is especially beneficial for college students or those individuals who made a mistake, who now have a second chance to do the right thing and move on with their life without letting it affect their long-terms goals. For example, a DWI on someone’s record could prevent them from employment in the military or in the fields of nursing, teaching, or law enforcement.


Why is this bill just being passed now?

Historically, the bill had been presented to legislation four times before but legislators were never able to pass any laws regarding deferred DWIs because of activism efforts from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The key difference in this 86th legislative session, which allowed it to pass, was the scenario that if a first time offender got their DWI deferred and the offense is now off their record but he or she gets a second DWI down the road, then that first DWI can be resurrected and used to enhance the punishment for that second DWI. This adds an extra incentive and a very real consequence so that people do not make this mistake a second time.


In addition, the fact that first time offenders would be required to use an interlock system was also a major convincing factor to groups like MADD because ignition interlocks are more effective at preventing drunk driving than license suspension alone, as more than half of convicted drunk drivers still continue to drive a vehicle even with a suspended license. According to MADD, ignition interlocks have stopped 309,597 ignition starts between December 1, 2006, and December 31, 2018.


Keep in mind, that a judge can still reserve the right to deny a DWI deferral as the law specifically states it can apply to “defendants charged with certain intoxication offenses” and not just all DWI offenses. The new deferred adjudication bill has gone into effect in the state of Texas on September 1, 2019. This bill is not retroactive, so if you have a DWI offense prior to September 1st, you are still subject to the prior laws.


How We Can Help

If you or someone you know has recently been charged with a DWI offense, please contact CLM Law Firm at (915) 225-1555 so that we can determine if you are eligible to enter the deferred adjudication program. Let us help put this situation behind you so you can continue to move forward with your life. Even if you are not eligible for this program, the attorneys at CLM Law Firm will work with you to review your options so that this issue is handled in the most favorable way possible for you.


Posted by CLM Law Firm
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