By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
The Texas legislature is likely to discuss legalizing deferred adjudication for first-time DWI arrestees during the 2011 legislative session according to this Houston Chronicle Article.
In Collin County, people accused of a DWI currently have two options;
(1) plead guilty and usually be placed on probation (or in jail) and in doing so accept a final conviction accompanied by surcharges to keep a driver’s license to name just a few punishment measures. This final conviction would be enhanceable for any subsequent DWI arrest.
(2) plead not-guilty with two possible outcomes; (a) an acquittal entitling them to an expunction; or (b) a conviction along with all the headaches discussed in the paragraph above.
If deferred adjudication is added as an option, it could play-out in a number of different ways. Though it would technically result in a “dismissal” at the end of the deferred period, it is only an actual “dismissal” in a technical sense. The person would likely only be eligible for a non-disclosure, not an expunction. This means it would be on the persons permanent record with the person being allowed to say that even though they plead guilty, it was not a final conviction.
Also another common trap-door the legislature likes to use is by making deferred adjudication a conviction for enhancement purposes. This means that a subsequent DWI arrest would be a DWI 2nd and so on. So basically the first one counts against you deferred or not.
Keep in mind that if Mothers Against Drunk Driver’s is for a plan to go ‘easier’ on people accused of DWI — you can be assured it’s for their gain and not the accused.
*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 specific legal advice about any legal issue you should consult an attorney directly.