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What to Expect in a DWI Probation

Months of intense court supervision is not for everyone. That's especially true if the defendant has issues accepting authority or has problems getting to certain places at certain times. For these and other reasons, an increasing number of DWI defendants choose a brief jail sentence over a lengthy period of probation.

However, in the vast majority of cases, community supervision is a better option. Since probation requirements are administrative matters, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney might have little say in the actual conditions. So, it's important for defendants to be ready for what is coming.

General Conditions

All criminal probations for all charges have roughly the same general conditions. These conditions are set forth in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Some common conditions include:

  • Avoiding Further Legal Trouble: Most motions to revoke probation are based on subsequent criminal offenses. The subsequent infraction could be completely unrelated to the original offense. Attorneys can generally convince judges to reinstate DWI probation. However, the defendant usually faces some additional punishment, such as a few days in jail as a condition of reinstatement.

  • Reporting Regularly: Failure to report is probably the second most common probation violation infraction. Typically, defendants must meet with a probation officer at least once a month. At the meeting, defendants usually must produce employment or educational records to show that they are working and/or in school.

  • Paying Fees, Restitution, and Fines: An increasing number of judges believe that the failure to pay money is not a sufficient reason to revoke probation and incarcerate a defendant. Such a procedure arguably transforms the county jail into an illegal debtors' prison.

Other conditions include remaining in the county, remaining current on child support or other domestic financial obligations, and avoiding injurious people, habits, or places.

Alcohol Abstinence

As far as the state is concerned, drinking is one such injurious habit. This condition varies by court, but generally, complete abstinence is a condition of probation in Tarrant County.

This condition is easier to enforce than some people believe it is. Probation officers routinely ask defendants if they have been drinking. They can tell when people lie to them, and lying to the probation officer is normally a felony. Moreover, objective data is usually available. Most probation officer check-ins include drug tests, and random tests might be administered as well. Additionally, information from the vehicle's Ignition Interlock Device could provide evidence of alcohol consumption. More on that below.

On a related note, DWI probation usually includes an alcohol evaluation. Even if you do not have a problem with alcohol, it's usually best to complete all requirements without complaining. To many evaluators, resistance is evidence that the person is in denial.

Ignition Interlock Device

IIDs, which are colloquially known as blow-and-gos, are essentially portable Breathalyzers which are connected to a vehicle's ignition. If the driver's BAC level is above a certain number, usually, the car will not start. Additionally, if the driver does not provide rolling samples while the vehicle is in motion, the car will not restart.

Defendants are financially responsible for installation and maintenance costs. Once upon a time, IIDs were rather easy to fool, because anyone could blow into the tube. Now, these gadgets usually have digital cameras. The IID transmits data directly to the defendant's probation officer.

Knowing what to expect in DWI probation makes it easier to follow the requirements. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.

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