Houston DWI Diversion Lawyer
A conviction for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can upend your life. You could face heavy fines, community service, jail time, and suspension of your driver’s license for months, if not years. Not every DWI arrest requires criminal prosecution, however. Even if you are unable to get your case dismissed, you might be eligible for DWI pretrial intervention, also called diversion. Diversion allows you to proceed through an alternative, non-criminal process, after which you can have your charges dropped. When enough time has passed after the program completion and dismissal of the charges, you can even seek to have the arrest and case expunged.
If you are a first-time offender facing DWI charges in Texas, reach out to the dedicated Houston DWI diversion lawyer at Ayson Law Firm for advice and representation. We will help you find the best approach to your case from day one, making sure that you do not spend one minute longer in jail than necessary. If there is a way to get your charges to disappear and protect your driver’s license from suspension, we will find it.
What is Pretrial Diversion?
Pretrial diversion is a combination of probation and educational counseling that serves as an alternative to traditional criminal incarceration. The program is intended to rehabilitate defendants facing DWI charges instead of punishing them, in the hopes of reducing the prison population, avoiding the negative consequences and stigma of conviction and incarceration, and preventing future offenses by treating the problem rather than imposing punishment.
Instead of going to jail, pretrial diversion involves:
- Completing substance abuse evaluation
- Undergoing substance abuse treatment, counseling, education, or other mental services as appropriate
- Possible housing in a drug or alcohol treatment center, where appropriate and necessary
- Periodic check-ins with the court
- 12 step meetings
- Installing an interlock ignition device to your motor vehicle
When you successfully complete the program, the government will move to dismiss the DWI charges against you. You can later seek to have the case expunged from your record, assuming you otherwise satisfy the requirements for expungement.
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion in Texas?
Pretrial diversion is not available for every DWI defendant. The requirements are relatively strict, and it is generally reserved for first-time DWI offenders who have no prior convictions. In order to qualify for pretrial diversion, a defendant charged with DWI must generally satisfy the following:
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Have no prior arrests on their record (even without convictions)
- Not have violated the open container law at the time of their arrest
- Be employed or in school
- Submit to a urine analysis
- Admit guilt to the offense
- Be open to fingerprinting, an FBI background check, and an interview with Pretrial Services
- Be able to pay for the program (around $302) and related treatment
Certain judges might add additional requirements for pretrial diversion eligibility, such as requiring that the driver had proper insurance, was not involved in an accident at the time of the arrest, and did not have a BAC over 0.15 at the time of their arrest. Additionally, if you commit any other offenses while the program is ongoing, you could fall out of the program.
How Long is the DWI Diversion Program?
The specifics of the diversion program differ within each county. In Harris County, the program typically lasts from one to two years, covering multiple phases. There are four general phases, each with specific requirements that lessen over time. Phases I and II involve numerous hours of group and individual counseling, having an ignition interlock system installed, twice-monthly court visits, and random drug and alcohol screenings. Phase III involves fewer meetings and counseling sessions, fewer court appearances, as well as random drug and alcohol screening. Phase IV might involve only select aftercare and supportive services as assigned by the court and program administrators.
Stay Out of Jail and Protect Your License After a Houston DWI Arrest
If you have been arrested for DWI in Houston, reach out to the Texas criminal defense legal team at Ayson Law today. We provide effective, tried and tested representation and advice to defendants arrested or charged with DWI in Houston, Texas. We will help you fight your charges, explore alternatives to prosecution, protect your license, and avoid the worst consequences of a DWI conviction. Call the Houston DWI diversion lawyer at Ayson Law Firm today for a free consultation about your Texas DWI charges.