Implementing DWI Deferred Adjudications

Posted by Doug Murphy | Dec 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

The prior 2020 Texas big DWI story addressed the concerning spread of a new but unreliable oral-fluid technology from which to infer blood-alcohol levels. Nationally recognized DWI specialist Doug Murphy stays on top of these trends to ensure that those charged with DWI offenses have the best representation. Consider here another 2020 Texas-DWI development affecting how Texas authorities process DWI charges.

The year 2020 in Texas marked something of a DWI watershed as the first full year of DWI deferred adjudications. In 2019, the Texas legislature adopted HB 3582 opening a longstanding Texas deferred-adjudication program to certain DWI offenders. Texas courts hearing DWI charges may now hold certain first-time DWI offenders' confession to the charge, allowing the offender to complete a diversion program, after which the court dismisses the charge. The broader Texas diversion program had been on the books for decades but closed to DWI offenders. The amendment opening diversion to DWI offenders took effect September 1, 2019, making 2020 its first full year of implementation.

An August 2020 Collateral Consequences Resource Center national survey of deferred adjudication places Texas among the twenty states currently authorizing broad deferred-adjudication programs. Thirteen other states, including neighboring Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, permit only limited deferred adjudications. The same survey found front-end diversion programs, relieving successful participants from any conviction, to be increasingly popular reforms over back-end expungement relief.

At the writing of this post, Texas DWI deferred-adjudication statistics were not yet available for 2020. One might have expected a 2020 rush of DWI defendants into the new program, given the natural preference to avoid and defer charges rather than confront them. Yet deferred adjudication is not a panacea, not a be-all and end-all for addressing first-time DWI charges. On the contrary, the new Texas law is not available for defendants whom authorities allege had a blood-alcohol level of at least .15% (.08% is the legal limit) or caused an accident, injury, or death.

Even if a first-time offender does qualify for DWI deferred adjudication, the program's details can make deferred adjudication more like a trap than a solution for some. After all, program participants must successfully complete and document completion of a raft of requirements, one of which is to install an interlock ignition device on any vehicle the participant operates. The devices record alcohol blows and device tampering. An alleged blow of .03% alcohol level or higher, or an instance of alleged tampering, can place program completion in jeopardy, as can any number of other events.

Moreover, successful completion of Texas's DWI deferred-adjudication program may keep a DWI conviction off one's record, but the record of arrest and its circumstances remain available for public judicial, administrative, and legislative review by such officials, agencies, and organizations as:

  • school districts and the state educator-certification board;
  • teacher retirement system;
  • banks regulated by state or federal authorities;
  • family and protective services;
  • state health services;
  • county clerks considering guardianship petitions;
  • state private-security board;
  • volunteer fire departments;
  • juvenile authorities;
  • state medical, nursing, and pharmacy boards;
  • public and nonprofit hospitals;
  • state bar and board of law examiners; and
  • state department of licensing and regulation.

These unfortunate limits on Texas's new DWI deferred-adjudication law suggest why 2020 likely hasn't seen the revolution in the handling of DWI cases that advocates of the new law predicted. Cooler heads appear to be prevailing. Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy leads the DWI-defense bar in ensuring that DWI defendants get the best opportunity for just outcomes including dismissal, not just deferral, of DWI charges.

Get the Best in DWI Defense

Whether your matter relates in any way to 2020's biggest DWI stories, your family, future, and reputation deserve the best in Texas DWI defense. If you face a DWI or related charge, then get the help of 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy. Doug is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both a DWI Specialist Board Certification and Criminal Law Board Certification. Influential organizations all over the country recognize Doug Murphy as a DWI expert, based on his many speaking engagements. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case now. Trust Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy with your defense. You deserve the best.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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