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Pretrial Diversion in Texas for DWI Offenders

Mark Thiessen
Pretrial Diversion in Texas for DWI Offenders

If you’re facing DWI charges, a pretrial diversion for a Texas DWI may not be the first thing on your mind. Let’s face it, a DWI can be a scary experience. The threat of a driver’s license suspension, trouble finding work and expensive fines can be daunting. Even worse, you may be worried about how the trial will go.

However, the program known as Pretrial Diversion in Texas for DWI defenders may allow you to skip the worries and troubles, with some conditions. Do we have your attention? Learn more about the program and what you may be able to do with it.

What Is the Pretrial Diversion Program in Texas?

Yes, there is a way to keep that DWI from besmirching your beautiful, pristine record. First-time DWI offenders may qualify for pretrial diversion, a program that, once completed, would potentially allow them to expunge a DWI charge from their record.

However, the pretrial diversion program in Texas for DWI offenders comes with qualification requirements, depends on admission to the program and requires you to follow the program flawlessly.

How Do I Qualify for Pretrial Diversion in Texas?

When you qualify for Pretrial Diversion in Texas for DWI, the court is essentially placing a bet that you’re going to learn Texas’ drinking laws and won’t be charged with a DWI again. The court doesn’t want to lose that bet, so it’s pretty picky about who can qualify for a Pretrial Diversion with DWI charges, and its list of conditions is long.

To qualify for Pretrial Diversion, you must:

  • Be in possession of a valid driver’s license
  • Be without any prior arrests (even if you weren’t convicted)
  • Not have broken the open container law in Texas at the time of your arrest
  • Be employed or in school full-time
  • Admit your guilt
  • Submit a urine analysis
  • Be amenable to fingerprinting and an FBI background check
  • Submit to an interview with The Chief Pretrial Services Officer
  • Be able to provide pay fees related to the Pretrial Diversion program (generally $302)

As with many legal proceedings in Texas, your case may vary depending on the court and judge. For example, the Harris County pretrial diversion program may have different stipulations in comparison to the Fort Bend County program. In any case, below are a few more pretrial diversion program requirements that a judge may ask of you.

Some judges, on a case by case basis, require that you must:

  • Have had insurance at the time of the arrest
  • Not been in an accident at the time of your arrest
  • Not have blown/had blood tests that resulted in a BAC at or over .15

An experienced DWI attorney in Houston will be able to help you navigate all the requirements.

If I Qualify, Will I Be Admitted into the Pretrial Diversion Program?

In short, not necessarily. Even if you qualify for the Pretrial Diversion program in Texas, you will not be admitted if the Pretrial Services Department thinks you’re probably going to darken the court’s doorstep again.

To avoid this fate, you’re going to have to convince the Pretrial Services Department that you’re a decent person who sincerely regrets driving drunk. (Note that this is easier to do when it’s true.) Be repentant and genuine in your essays. Treat everyone whom you interact with during the application process with respect.

That said, the test isn’t over once you’ve been admitted into the pretrial diversion program for a Texas DWI. Your fate still depends heavily on the successful completion of the program.

How Do You Complete the Pretrial Diversion Program?

Pretrial Diversion programs in Texas are customizable—you know, like a smart phone, just way less fun. The plan you’re assigned will depend on your background and what the Pretrial Services Department thinks would benefit you most. The most common programs we see, however, include some or all of the following.

  • A 12-18 month program duration
  • The need for permission to leave the state
  • Use of ignition interlock device
  • A curfew
  • Drug tests
  • Regular community service
  • Regular reporting to a probation officer (via email)
  • Classes and counseling (one, both or neither)

In most cases, the Pretrial Services Department will determine whether or not you have a drinking program or a drug problem. Their conclusions, along with the circumstances of your arrest, will help determine the parameters of your program.

Will Pretrial Diversion Allow Me to Expunge My DWI Charge?

It is possible to expunge your DWI charge after a pretrial diversion program in Texas. Though whatever your program looks like, if you violate any of its terms, the program will be terminated and you will have to go back to court with your tail between your legs. If you do successfully complete the program, a prosecutor will motion to dismiss your charges, making you eligible to expunge the DWI from your record.

Unlike other programs such as Deferred Adjudication, if your DWI is expunged after Pretrial Diversion, your record is truly clean.

Wait…What Does Pretrial Intervention Mean?

If you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “I’ve heard of Pretrial Intervention, but not Pretrial Diversion…” well, you’re not alone. Somehow, we have two different terms for the same program. That’s right: Diversion and Pretrial Intervention are the exact same thing.

Meanwhile, programs such as the Deferred Adjudication program and the DIVERT program may sound similar to Pretrial Diversion, but they have different DWI probation requirements and ultimately different outcomes upon completion. Keep this in mind as you continue your research.

Facing a DWI? Put Thiessen Law Firm in Your Corner.

Having a DWI charge on your record can cut down on the opportunities that life offers you. And whether it’s this DWI charge, having been caught with weed, needing an ALR hearing to get back on the road or handling a warrant out for your arrest, dealing with the criminal justice system is intimidating.

Thiessen Law Firm, an award-winning criminal defense firm for the Houston, Galveston and surrounding areas in Texas, understands the penalties you face. We are experienced, aggressive, and we will fight for your future. If you need a Houston DWI attorney, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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