The vast majority of people arrested for misdemeanor DWI offenses are released on bond. They are free from jail but must appear for court settings during the pendency of the charges against them. While “on bond,” the legislature has required that certain conditions be met. The main condition which affects some DWI arrests is the ordering of an interlock ignition device (or deep lung device) on the defendant’s car. This means the device can be placed on someone’s car before they’ve had a trial or had their first main court setting.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 17.441 holds that the judge shall, as a matter of law, order a deep lung device be placed on the vehicle of the defendant if the arrest in question was for a subsequent DWI, intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter. The judge may not order the interlock devices in those circumstances as well if they make a finding that ordering the device is not “in the best interest of justice.”
Although, 17.441 is the only provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure which directly addresses deep lung devices, judges and magistrates have broad discretion to make “reasonable” conditions of bond for “community safety” under Tex.Code.Crim.P. 17.40. Some magistrates take this as carte blanche to slap deep lung devices on first DWI offenders in random situations.
If a magistrate has unreasonably placed an interlock device on the driver’s car after a DWI arrest, that decision can often be amended or changed by the trial judge at a later point while the accused is on bond pending charges.
Jeremy F. Rosenthal, Esq.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.