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Dallas County DWI Court Program

by Jerry W. Tidwell Jr. on August 7, 2011 in News

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Recently I wrote of the Collin County DWI/Drug Court Program; here I will provide some information on the Dallas County DWI Court Program.

Standard Probation Terms and Conditions of DWI 2nd offense

I have a long-standing view that all DWI 1st offense should be set for trial, because there really are no distinct differences in punishment whether by pre-trial plea bargain or assessed after trial. DWI 2nd offenses begin to enter an area where plea bargaining and other potential client needs enter into consideration — namely the possibility of potential substance abuse issues. With DWI 2nd offense clients, my focus is on avoiding a DWI 3rd offense, which are felony offenses and potentially punishable by prison confinement. However, any plea agreement or discussion must also focus on the strength and facts of the State’s case against the DWI defendant and the likelihood of a not guilty outcome after trial.

If the concern with a DWI 2nd offense is punishment only, then this is the typical DWI punishment and probation offer from the Dallas DA’s office for: 1 year in jail probated for 2 years; $1,500 fine; 5 days confinement in county jail as a pre-condition to DWI probation (also known as a term and condition of probation); CATS assessment (in-depth alcohol/substance abuse assessment); a deep lung device; and community service. This punishment has severe financial consequences. However, these plea bargain conditions are still not at maximum punishment as the law allows for a fine up $4,000 and up to 30 days confinement in the county jail as a term and condition of probation. Additionally, other than the CATS assessment and possible recommended conditions depending on the assessment indicators, standard DWI 2nd offense punishment does not focus much on possible substance abuse issues or changes in behavior.

Enter DWI Court

First, DWI Court takes a significant time commitment and willingness to change behavior. Additionally, DWI court requires the DWI defendant to acknowledge, recognize, and accept there exists a substance abuse problem. If the client does not, then entering the DWI court process is not in their best interest. I do not have a preference for any disposition; my only focus is to provide a DWI 2nd offense client with the best possible advice and counsel for their particular circumstance, which may include trial, plea bargain standard probation, or assist with entering the DWI court program. My one overriding goal is doing everything I can to help the client avoid a DWI 3rd offense.

Here are the qualifying factors for DWI Court:

1. pending DWI or DWI 2nd in Dallas County
2. DWI with BAC greater than 0.15
3. DWI involving accident
4. Defendant resides in Dallas County or a surrounding county

Non-qualifying factors for DWI Court:

1. any prior violent or sexual offense
2. Defendant resides outside of Dallas County or surrounding county

Advantages of DWI Court:

1. one year probation
2. waive court fines
3. reduced probation fee
4. waive community service
5. waive ODL fee (if eligible)
6. suspended jail time

Examples of time commitment:

1. during first 2 months of supervision, meet with probation officer 3 times per month and attend 2 court appearances in the evening; as the participant satisfactorily progresses, supervision meetings are reduced to 2 time per month and then eventually typical 1 time per month and court appearances are reduced to 2 times per month and then eventually 1 time per month
2. initial intensive outpatient program consisting of 4 group therapy sessions per week and attending 3 AA/NA meetings per week
3. with satisfactory progress, the DWI Court participant will enter supportive outpatient program consisting of 3 group therapy sessions per week and 3 AA/NA meeting per week
4. Aftercare program: 1 group therapy session per week and 3 AA/NA meetings per week.

For Additional Information:

How to Get Into the DWI Court
DWI Court Application for Consideration by the Prosecutor 
Dallas County DWI Court Participant Contract
Transportation Plan

If I may be of assistance, I encourage you call my office at (972) 234-8208 or email me atjwtidelljr@tidwell-law.net to discuss your case.