First-time DWI Offenses Can Now Be Deferred
For some criminal convictions, a judge will defer the conviction during the sentencing phase. This means that when someone pleads guilty to a crime, the judge temporarily sets aside the conviction and orders a period of probation. If the defendant successfully completes the probation, no conviction will be entered on the defendant’s criminal record.
One offense for which a deferred sentence was not available in Texas, however, was driving while intoxicated (DWI). Instead, prosecutors often reduced the charge in exchange for a guilty plea. As of September 1, 2019, it is possible to have a first-time DWI deferred in Texas. Probation will involve having an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and other conditions set by the judge. If you complete your probation, you can avoid a conviction.
Benefits of a Deferred DWI
When you have a DWI on your criminal record, it can affect many aspects of your life. Some people lose their jobs and have a difficult time finding new work, as many employers require a clean criminal and/or driving record. If you are a college student, you can face discipline from your school, including losing your ability to play collegiate athletics and your scholarships. Overall, a DWI can have effects that reach much further than a fine, probation, and license suspension.
Many people facing first-time DWI charges simply made a mistake and error in judgment. After a first charge, they learn their lesson and never get behind the wheel after drinking again. Such defendants should not be punished for the rest of their lives and have their opportunities limited because of a single mistake.
When you have your DWI deferred, you will not have a conviction on your record. This means that colleges, potential employers, and other parties will not discover your conviction with a standard background check. This is important to eliminate the long-term consequences that used to always come with a first-time DWI.
What Happens with a Second DWI after a Deferred First Offense?
Deferring your DWI does not mean it never existed, however. For example, law enforcement authorities can still access the record of your guilty plea and a deferred sentence. This means that if you do become a repeat offender, your charges and sentence can still be enhanced for a second DWI based on your first case. If you have a first DWI deferred, your second charge can still escalate from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties can increase as follows:
- Possible fines increase from $2,000 to $4,000
- Possible jail time goes from 180 days to one year
Contact a Denton DWI Defense Lawyer as Soon as Possible after an Arrest
Not everyone facing DWI charges will automatically get a deferred sentence, so it is important to have an experienced DWI defense lawyer handling your case. At the law office of Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, we can fight for a deferral of your first-time DWI, so please call 940-222-2488 or contact us online right away after an arrest.