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Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - Can you avoid jail time for first DWI in Texas?

Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - Can you avoid jail time for first DWI in Texas? by Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law

Can you avoid jail time for first DWI in Texas? Yes, and there are a few ways.

Despite the requirement of Texas Penal Code 49.04 that requires 72 hours in jail for a DWI you can in fact avoid jail time for a first DWI in Texas. And maybe a second and a third DWI. The law says an offense under this section (DWI First) is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours. But this minimum term of confinement can be avoided in a number of ways.

  1. Getting the case dismissed - If your lawyer is able to find a problem with the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop or probable cause for the arrest your case may be dismissed. If you win at a jury trial you will be acquitted of the charges and also avoid jail time. You may also be able to enroll in a program called a pretrial diversion or intervention that allows the case to be dismissed off of your record and expunged.

  2. Negotiating an offer of probation or deferred adjudication - A skilled DWI defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid jail time by probating any jail sentence for a DWI first. This can be called a (1) Straight Probation or (2) Deferred Adjudication Probation. In either case you are not required to serve any mandatory jail time. Your sentence is probated and you are required to follow conditions of probation for a period of time between 6 months and 2 years. If you violate the terms of probation then you could end up serving jail time.

  3. Paying a fine only - for individuals arrested in the Woodlands, Texas and Conroe, Texas you may be able to pay a fine and get your case resolved without having to serve additional jail time. Time served is a legal term used by jail staff, prosecutors, courts, and defense attorneys to describe a situation where you are given credit for 3 days or the 72 hour period for the time that you spent in jail the first day that you were arrested. Only the sheriff if a particular county can tell you how much credit for jailtime served you are going to get. But in Montgomery County, Texas typically you will receive two for one credit for days served in the county jail. If your judgment says, "Time Served" on it then you will not be required to serve any additional jail time. This can occur with a plea offer to the term of 3 days in the Montgomery County jail credited with time served and a $1200 fine + court costs. Unfortunately this way could lead to the imposition of a state traffic fine in the amount of $3000 for individuals with no prior convictions for DWI. But it can be an option that allows the case to be handled quickly and without continual appearances in court or reporting on probation.

Finally the big question is can you avoid jail time all together? Well most individuals who are facing a DWI charge were arrested the day that they were found to be driving by the police. This means you are going to the jail, seeing the judge, and then bonding out the following day. Unfortunately if you have a warrant in Montgomery County now it can still take hours to get booked in and out of the jail. This means that everyone who is charged with a DWI in Montgomery County is likely to spend at least some period of time in jail just not anything additional to the first jailing on the date of the alleged offense.


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