The Bexar County "Taking Responsibility" Plea Bargain Program for DWI Cases
This guide discusses one way to potentially avoid a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction for Bexar County and San Antonio residents. This plea bargain allows accused persons to move on with their lives and seal their record with an Order for Non-Disclosure, but it's not for everyone.
Program QualificationsTo qualify, a person arrested for DWI must meet the following criteria: 1. Be a first time offender 2. Have a BAC ("Breath Alcohol Concentration") of less than 0.15 3. Have caused no accidents or injuries 4. Behaved politely towards law enforcement 5. Agree within 90 days of arrest. So, the "Taking Responsibility" plea is not available to many defendants. Those with a DWI-2nd, or DWI-3rd or More, or any Felony Intoxication Offense are not eligible. Additionally, even a person accused of a first DWI involving an accident or extreme intoxication cannot receive this plea offer.
Conditions of ProbationThe benefit of this plea agreement is that clients can avoid a conviction and seal their records. However, they must first fulfill certain terms and conditions of probation. Those terms and conditions include: 1. Completing a full year of probation (or more in some circumstances) 2. Installing an ignition interlock device (a machine that checks your BAC via breath test while operating your vehicle) for at least 6 months. The ignition interlock must be installed by an approved provider. 3. May not consume alcohol while on probation 4. Attend a DWI Victim Impact Panel ("DIP") 5. Successfully complete a DWI Education Course 6. Take a Treatment Alternative to Incarceration Program ("TAIP") Evaluation and follow any recommendations 7. Pay $850 in fines 8. Pay court costs (generally, around $350) 9. Perform 48 hours of community service restitution. In some circumstances, a qualified DWI lawyers may be able to secure exceptions to the qualifications or terms and conditions. To place this in perspective, under the prior District Attorney, Susan Reed, "Taking Responsibility" plea bargainers were expected accept a conviction for Obstruction of a Highway on their permanent criminal record and complete up to 2 years of probation. This was not subject to an Order of Non-Disclosure. So, for defendants who are willing to complete the terms and conditions of probation, this deal is a good way to limit their risk of conviction for a DWI charge.
Is This A good Deal for You?Some individuals who are eligible may still want to reject this plea deal and fight their case. For example, in Texas, deferred adjudication for a Class B Misdemeanor or above will be disqualified from holding a Concealed Handgun License ("CDL") for concealed carry purposes for 5 years. Commercial Driver's License ("CDL") holders may still have their CDLs suspended. Individuals with Texas State licenses or certificates may face additional hurdles in applying or renewing their licenses. For example, professionals regulated by the Texas Board of Nurses will need to include a copy of an Order of Non-Disclosure after completing their probation or face delays in having their application or renewal approved, even if their record is sealed. Those clients requiring Federal Government review should know that the Federal Government generally considers Deferred Adjudication to be a conviction. So, for example, military personnel may face separate disciplinary action such as an Article 15 sanction and those with a security clearance may be downgraded or disqualified. Those individuals who are not United States citizens may face immigration consequences such as deportation, denial of citizenship or Permanent residency status, or denial of reentry privileges. Many applicants for military service will find themselves rejected despite the best efforts of their military recruiter.
How to Find An Attorney to Help YouHowever, an experienced DWI lawyer can help mitigate these collateral consequences to a DWI case or Obstruction of a Highway plea. You will also want a lawyer familiar with your unique needs, especially professionally. Some lawyers have experience working with professionals such as doctors, nurses, and teachers, as well as truck drivers (CDL holders) and concealed carry devotees (CHL holders). They may consult with lawyers familiar with state licensing boards, where required, and work with military recruiters and military lawyers, including Judge Advocate General ("JAG") officers. Clients who are Mexican nationals or other foreign persons will benefit from an immigration attorney. Finally, a plea bargain will not resolve a license suspension so you may still want a lawyer for your ALR Hearing. Furthermore, those clients who need to expunge their records completely cannot take a plea deal and will need to fight their case to a jury trial. Only an experienced DWI lawyer should be used for these types of cases.