Most DWI defendants receive probation even for a subsequent offense. These offenses do carry brief mandatory jail terms, but many judges consider time served to fulfill these sentences. Probation is a very good option for most defendants. It combines close supervision with considerable freedom to come and go.
Absconders make up most of the probation violators in Harris County and elsewhere. These individuals plead guilty, agree to accept the terms of probation, and never do anything else. It’s only a matter of time before these individuals are apprehended, and judges usually take a very dim view of this conduct.
So, as long as the probationer shows a consistent effort to comply with the conditions, probation revocation is not very likely. Some specific conditions include:
- Pay Expenses: In addition to the fine and court costs, there are also monthly probation monitoring fees. These expenses vary in DWI cases, especially with regard to the ignition interlock device.
- Stay Busy: Harris County probationers must either go to school full time or work full time. If you have idle time, your probation officer will probably ask questions. On a related note, DWI probationers must also avoid places that serve alcohol. Judges may also require them to avoid alcohol altogether.
- Stay Out of Trouble: Other than absconding, a subsequent offense is the easiest way to be charged with a probation violation. Minor traffic tickets and non-moving violations can even serve as a basis for revocation in some cases.
Other conditions include remaining in the county (or at least the state) and attending periodic meetings with a probation officer. These meetings are usually monthly.
Some DWI-Specific Conditions
For the state, probation is more than a cost-effective alternative to prison. It’s also seen as an effective way to rehabilitate offenders. So, there are a number of DWI-specific conditions, including:
- Community Service: The term varies according to the court’s rules, nature of the offense, and the judge’s mood on that day. But expect the requirement to be at least twenty or thirty hours.
- Alcohol Testing: At the aforementioned meetings, most probationers must submit to chemical tests. Similarly, if they are pulled over for DWI, they do not have the right to refuse a chemical test request.
- Ignition Interlock Device: The IID disables the vehicle’s ignition if the defendant has a BAC above .04. In addition to a test at vehicle start, the driver must provide periodic samples while driving. If the defendant has too many rolling refusals or provides a specimen above .04, the vehicle will not restart.
- Alcohol Classes: The classes vary depending on the results of an alcohol evaluation. Most defendants must attend at least one victim impact panel and complete a DWI education class within the first six months of probation.
Early discharge from probation is not possible in DWI cases. But in some jurisdictions, judges allow probationers with exceptional records to enter non-reporting status. Non-reporters usually can do away with their IIDs as well.