Texas DWI and Motions to Revoke Probation.
Police arrest thousands of drivers each year for DWI. Surprisingly, many of these drivers decide not to fight their cases. Instead, these drivers plead out in order to avoid jail time. As a result, the judge places the driver on probation.
However, probation comes with strings attached. In exchange for not going to jail, the driver agrees to follow certain rules. If the driver does not follow these rules, then the prosecutor will file a motion to revoke probation (MTR) with the court. Of major interest, the MTR will tell the drivers the rules he broke while he was on probation.
Worse yet, the MTR will cause the judge to issue an arrest warrant for the driver. This means police will arrest the driver for the MTR. After that, the judge sets the case for an MTR hearing.
But what happens at an MTR hearing? And what should you do if you break the rules of your DWI probation? This post will answer these questions. We will also show you how probation works. Most important of all, we will show you the steps you should take if a judge issues a warrant for your arrest for a DWI probation violation.
What is probation in Texas?
Texas calls probation “community supervision.” But most people call it probation. In plain English, this means a judge does not send a person to jail. Instead, the judge orders the person to report to a probation officer for a specific period of time. For example, the judge can place a person on probation for 10 months, 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years. The exact probation period will depend on the crime, the history of the person, and the judge.
While on probation, the person usually must give drug tests, report monthly, and complete community service hours. Critically, if the person completes probation without any problems, then the judge will close out the case. This means the person will not go to jail. This also explains why so many people decide not to fight their cases. In other words, probation gives people a real chance of avoiding jail time.
In addition, Texas has two types of probation. They are:
- Deferred Adjudication: With this type of probation, the judge does not find the person guilty. Rather, the judge places the person on probation. If the person finishes the probation, then the person will not get a final conviction on his record. This is a good option for people who will lose their job or license if they are convicted of any crime. Nonetheless, this will still show up on a background check unless you seal or clean your record.
- Straight Probation: With straight probation, the judge finds you guilty. But the judge does not send you to jail. However, the judge orders the person to report to a probation officer and follow all the rules of probation.
The main difference between these two types of probation is a criminal conviction. With deferred probation, the judge does not find the person guilty. In contrast, with straight probation the judge finds the person guilty.
What are the most common DWI probation violations?
The most common DWI MTR violations are:
- Failing to Report: This happens when the person does not report to a probation officer one or more times.
- Giving a Dirty Drug Test: The person’s drug test is positive for cocaine, meth, or heroin.
- Getting arrested for a new crime: The person gets arrested for a new crime like assault, theft, or a second DWI.
- Ignition Interlock violations: In many DWI cases, judges order the driver to get an Ignition Interlock device installed in the person’s car. This machine requires the driver to give regular breath samples while the person is driving the car. If the person gives a breath sample that tests positive for alcohol, then this will trigger an MTR.
- Not completing DWI classes: Texas law requires a person on DWI probation to attend and complete DWI education classes. If the person does not complete these classes, then this will also trigger an MTR.
How much jail time can I get for a DWI Probation violation in Texas?
|Texas DWI Offense.||Level.||Jail Time.||Fine Amount.|
|DWI-1st||Class B Misdemeanor.||72 hours to 180 days in county jail.||$0.00 to $2,000.00.|
|DWI-1st with BAC of .15 or more.||Class A Misdemeanor.||0 days to 1 year in county jail.||$0.00 to $4,000.00.|
|DWI-Open Container.||Class B Misdemeanor.||6 days to 180 days in county jail.||$0.00 to $2,000.00.|
|DWI-2nd.||Class A Misdemeanor.||30 days to 1 year in county jail.||$0.00 to $4,000.00.|
|DWI with a Child Passenger.||State Jail Felony.||6 months to 2 years in a State Jail Facility.||$0.00 to $10,000.00.|
|DWI-3rd.||Third Degree Felony.||2 years to 10 years in TDC.||$0.00 to $10,000.00.|
What happens at a probation revocation Hearing in Texas?
The MTR hearing is where a judge decides if a defendant broke the rules of probation. During this hearing, the judge will ask the person on probation if he read the violations in the MTR. The judge will then ask the person if the violations in the MTR are True or Not True.
If the person says the violations are true, then the judge can do several different things. First, the judge can revoke the person’s probation and send him to jail. Second, the judge can deny the MTR, but change the conditions of probation. Third, the judge can deny the MTR and end the probation.
On the other hand, if the person says the violations are not true, then the State must prove up the violations. But notably, these hearings are less formal than a jury trial. And the judge has lots of flexibility on how to decide the case.
What should I do if I get a DWI MTR?
Time needed: 4 hours.
Steps to take if you get a DWI MTR in Texas.
- Check if you have a bond set on your case.
Call the court where your MTR is pending and ask if you have a bond set. Some judges will set a bond after they issue an arrest warrant for a probation violation. This is a key point. Specifically, you will need a bond set before you can bond out of jail.
In contrast, if you don’t have a bond set, then you must wait in jail until your court date. If you are in this situation, then hire an attorney before you turn yourself in. Your lawyer can ask the judge to set a bond in your case to let you bond out.
Finally, before you call the court, make sure to have the following information: Full name of person with case pending; case number, SID number, and date of birth. This will help the court staff find your case in the computer system.
- Bond Out of Jail.
Once you get a bond set, then hire a bond company to post your bond. After you hire a bond company, then, you can turn yourself into the Bexar County Satellite Office at the courthouse. This is the easiest way to deal with an MTR warrant.
- Hire a lawyer.
Many MTR cases can be worked out with a deal. A lawyer can help you work out a deal that will allow you to stay on probation if you jump through some hoops. For example, this includes possibly resetting your case to give you time to pay fines, finish your community service hours, and complete your classes.
However, if you cannot afford an attorney, then the judge will give you one for free. If this is your case, call the court and ask them who your attorney is. Then call the attorney so you can develop a plan that gives you the best chance of success.
- Check in with your probation officer.
Once you bond out of jail, call or email your probation officer. Let them know that you turned yourself in and bonded out. Then ask the probation officer if they need you to report in person or do anything else before your MTR hearing. In many cases, the probation officer can give you helpful advice on what things you should do before your court date.
Texas DWI Probation Defense.
If you have a DWI MTR pending, then do not panic. You have options. In many of these cases, your lawyer can work out a deal to keep you on probation. But this will depend on the judge, the prosecutor, and the rules you broke while on probation.
Nonetheless, the person on probation is the key to MTR cases. This is because he can take control of his case by finishing the community service hours, completing any classes, and paying off the fines and court costs. If he can do this before the court date, then his attorney may be able to keep him out of jail.
Bexar County DWI Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.
Questions about your DWI or DUI case? Call 210-733-7575 for a free case consult.