Deferred Adjudication for a Texas DWI Charge

Everybody who owns or operates a motor vehicle knows that driving while intoxicated (DWI, or sometimes referred to as driving under the influence, or DUI) is against the law. You are considered to be legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above .08, or if you show signs that you “lack the normal use of mental or physical faculties” to operate a vehicle due to the use of alcohol or drugs.

If you are under 21 and are caught, it doesn’t matter what your BAC is: if you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you have committed a drunk-driving offense. DWI penalties are severe, but if you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible for deferred adjudication.

What is deferred adjudication?

First, deferred adjudication is not just a slap on the wrist and permission to go on your way. Instead, it is a type of probation. You appear before the judge and will have to plead guilty to the DWI charge. At that time, you will be put on probation. If you successfully complete the probation, your case will be dismissed.

A term of the probation is the installation of an ignition interlock device on your car or the vehicle you regularly use. In order to start your car, you first have to blow into the device, which will check your breath alcohol level. (The judge may waive this requirement “if, based on a controlled substance and alcohol evaluation of the defendant, the judge determines and enters in the record that restricting the defendant to the use of an ignition interlock is not necessary for the safety of the community.”) You may not operate a vehicle that does not have the ignition interlock.

HB 3582, the DWI deferred adjudication statute, was passed into law on June 14, 2019 and went into effect on September 1, 2019. You may be eligible for deferred adjudication if you are a first-time offender. Exceptions include:

  • You are not eligible if your BAC was .16 or more;
  • You are not eligible if you are not a first-time offender;
  • If the DWI offense occurred while you held a commercial driver’s license or commercial learner’s permit;
  • At the time of the offense, you had a child passenger;
  • You caused an accident;
  • You caused an injury;
  • You caused a death

How a Texas DWI deferred adjudication may benefit you

The law was designed to give those who may have made a mistake a second chance. Once you have satisfied the terms of your probation, the case is dismissed and the charge will not be entered into your criminal record. This is important, as having a criminal record can adversely affect your job and your relationship with friends and family. If you are concerned that a charge may show up on your record, you can petition for an Order of Nondisclosure.

Find out if a deferred adjudication for a Texas DWI is the best choice for you

Schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Harris County attorney board-certified in criminal law. We can discuss your options and make sure that your rights are protected. To schedule a time to talk, please call our Kingwood DWI Lawyer at 281-358-9111 or contact us online.

Andrew Williams, an experienced attorney who can challenge evidence in a DWI case
About the Author: Andrew Williams
I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.