Texas motorists faced with a driving while intoxicated offense for the first time may now have a chance of having their charge deferred. As reported by KCBD News, a new DWI law that went into effect on September 1 enables a judge to grant a deferred adjudication. This serves as a possible option for certain first-time defendants who accept responsibility for their actions and hope to see their charges deferred.
In exchange for entering a guilty plea, an individual may have a chance to obtain a conditional deferral of the charge after completing a sentence of probation or community service. Although the charge may not show on the driver’s record, a second offense can refer back to the first-time deferred charge as a prior offense and result in an enhanced second conviction.
A second and enhanced DWI conviction may then prevent an individual from following career paths such as nursing, teaching or law enforcement. A second offense also carries harsher penalties that may include incarceration, license suspension and a $4,000 fine.
Deferred charge requirements
When an individual successfully completes all court-specified terms and conditions of probation, a judge may defer the first-time DWI charge. Judges will, however, maintain the right to convict when they believe the offender deserves it.
As noted by KETK East Texas Matters, the new law requires a driver to use an ignition interlock when offered a chance at a deferred DWI charge. The system forces the individual to blow into a breathalyzer before he or she can start the car. The vehicle will not start if the system detects a blood alcohol content of 0.03 or more.
Fighting a first-time DWI offense
Without a charge deferral, first-time DWI convictions may otherwise result in substantial and unfortunate lifestyle changes. The new DWI law takes into consideration the fact that it is not uncommon for someone to make a one-time mistake. Accepting responsibility for a first-time DWI offense in which no harm or damage occurred, however, may now bring the hope of a second chance and a clear record.