You may be much better off choosing to serve a short jail sentence instead of getting probation. Many people believe that probation is a more lenient sentence, but probation is actually a long, expensive, and annoying process.
We can almost always get probation for our clients on misdemeanor DWI cases, but I usually think it’s a mistake to do so. Instead, on first offense DWI cases we generally choose to have the jury determine the punishment, rather than the judge, and we typically end up with a short jail sentence that is far less painful than a long probation term.
A Typical DWI Probation
1st offense DWI punishments are usually about the same, UNLESS you choose to have the jury set the punishment, and take away the probation option, which is what I usually recommend. Most people end up with either no jail sentence, or about one weekend in jail, and a small fine.
In my view, that beats the heck out of the “usual” DWI 1st offense probation sentence, which includes the following terms:
- Two years’ probation
- Commit no other crimes during the probation period
- Pay all fines (around $1,000) and court costs (around $450)
- Reporting to probation once per month for 18 to 24 months (over $1,000 for an 18 month probation)
- $60 per month probation fees
- A 12 hour, DWI Education program ($50)
- A one hour drug and alcohol evaluation ($25)
- A three hour MADD Victim Impact Panel ($25)
- 24 to 80 hours of community service restitution
- A $25 payment to Crime Stoppers
- Don’t leave the state of Texas without permission
- Don’t spend the night outside of your home county without permission
- Do not move without permission
- Random urine tests for drug screening
- And the possibility of being revoked and sent to jail for 120 to 180 days.
Some judges also make you abstain from alcohol for the entire probation period.
No thanks! Give me a weekend in jail anytime!
Choosing Jail Over Probation for a DWI
You might think nobody would ever choose jail over probation, but there are so many terms and conditions of DWI probation that about 70% of my clients prefer the jail option. The vast majority of first offense DWI offenders are sentenced to one weekend in jail or less, and many end up with “time served”, which means that the night they spent in jail when they were arrested counts as their entire sentence.
Doesn’t that sound a lot better than two years of probation?
You can also save a lot of money by choosing a short jail term over probation. When you add up all the fines and other costs, you could save over $2,500!
The two main risks of choosing the jail option are that 1) there is a slight risk (in my experience 5% or less) that a jury could give you a “long” (over 15 days jail sentence), and 2) there is an automatic driver’s license suspension that goes with choosing the jail sentence. However, you can always get an occupational driver’s license, and if you had an ALR suspension, that suspension period is credited against the DWI suspension period.
Most importantly, you won’t be on probation! That benefit alone is very hard to overstate!
At Gioffredi and Associates, we’ve used jury punishment to help many first offense DWI clients completely avoid probation. Call us at 214-739-4515 for a free DWI defense consultation.