Up until recently, the Texas Legislature did not provide for deferred adjudication in driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases. But that all changed in 2019, when House Bill 3582 was enacted, thereby permitting first-time DWI offenders to receive deferred adjudication.  

While deferred adjudication is a great option for people facing DWI charges, there are many misconceptions surrounding the law. Thus, it is important to know exactly what deferred adjudication entails.

What is deferred adjudication in Texas?

Deferred adjudication (“deferred”) is a special form of judge ordered community supervision (commonly known as probation) that allows you to accept responsibility for your offense without an actual conviction being placed on your record. That may sound great; however, you must first be eligible to receive a deferred sentence.

Am I eligible for deferred?

When it comes to DWIs specifically, not everyone is eligible for deferred adjudication. You will not be eligible for deferred if:

Even if your DWI is eligible for deferred, it is not a guarantee. Some prosecutors require that you provide further mitigating evidence to prove why you should receive a deferred. And if you are offered a deferred, there are other rules that you must follow.

What are the deferred rules in Texas?

Qualifying for a deferred on your DWI offense is just the beginning. There are a slew of other steps that you must take before the DWI is “off” your record.

Does a deferred show up on a background check in Texas?

One of the largest misconceptions associated with deferred is that the charges are wiped from your record upon completing probation. This is not true. The DWI charge will still appear on your record until you obtain an order of nondisclosure. Even then, your record is only partially cleared of the charges.

A nondisclosure will seal your record from public view but not from governmental agencies and law enforcement. For example, if you are applying to work at a local restaurant, they will not be able to see your DWI on a background check. However, if you are applying to work for the federal government, they will be able to see you’ve been arrested for a DWI.

It is important to remember that nondisclosures are not automatic. Once your deferred adjudication is complete, you will be subject to a waiting period before your attorney can petition the court for an order of nondisclosure.   

What happens if I get another DWI in Texas?

You’ve completed deferred adjudication for your DWI offense and obtained an order of nondisclosure. A few years later you are arrested for another DWI. What now?

Despite completing deferred, your first DWI can still be used to enhance any subsequent DWI. This means that you will face penalties associated with a DWI 2nd and it will show up as such on your record.

DWIs and deferred adjudication can be a complex area of the law that you should not navigate on your own. It is important to work with an attorney who has experience and expertise in this area. Contact my office today to learn about your options.      

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