Doubtless, dealing with DWI charges is stressful and you could face the consequences head-on. However, most first-time offenders have a chance to avert the full trial and conviction process by joining the pretrial diversion program. Nonetheless, doing so is a daunting task requiring you to meet numerous court requirements. However, you are not guaranteed a position in the program after complying with all the rules.
Owing to the possible challenges you may encounter, you want to equip yourself with relevant knowledge and legal assistance. This involves speaking to your DWI defense lawyer for further guidance on the application process. Your lawyer should offer high-quality legal services to help you increase your chances of successfully joining and completing the diversion program.
Understanding the Nature of a Pretrial Diversion Program
Texas regulations created the pretrial diversion program to offer a possible way to face a DWI trial and penalties. Under the statutory regulations, completing the diversion program may result in an expungement of criminal records.
As the name suggests, a pretrial diversion program involves issuing a DWI arrested suspect the chance to explore alternative outcomes for drunk driving. Hence, you will not have to appear in court and answer for your wrongdoings as is commonly done. Instead, you will need to comply with the program requirements and complete them before receiving the expungement orders.
This is a significant advantage for most arrested persons because expungements entail sealing and putting your criminal records out of reach. Subsequently, you are better positioned to continue your life as before or seek out new opportunities.
For example, your potential employer will not access the DWI records if they decide to run a background check on your name. Similarly, applicants with expunged records who seek to join a learning institution will face a smoother process, as no criminal record will be retrieved.
What to Do to Increase Chances of Joining a Pretrial Diversion Program
Owing to the strict requirements set by Texas law in admitting DWI offenders to the diversion program, you want to do your best to secure a spot. Therefore, you can benefit from several tips and guidelines on creating a good impression and upholding it.
While some may find compliance with the guidelines tasking, it goes a long way in helping you receive some benefits from the program. To increase chances of joining a pretrial diversion program, do the following:
Attend All Interviews and Meetings on Time
The assigned officials will hold interviews and meetings before receiving approval to apply and join the diversion program. They aim to obtain as much information about you as possible to determine whether you demonstrate a genuine interest in the program.
Thus, attending the meetings on time is the first step towards demonstrating responsibility to your advantage. Further, you want to prepare for the oncoming questions by having your facts right. At this stage, you can consult your criminal defense attorney to learn how to answer questions regarding the DWI.
Display Remorse When Speaking About Your Case
The officials appointed to select pretrial diversion program attendees can identify candidates with a promising case. They have undergone intense training on identifying body language, persons attempting to issue lies, and other important communication signs.
Moreover, they compare their observations to your DWI case and conclude whether you meet the diversion program requirements. Based on this, you want to portray genuine remorse and regret for drinking and driving.
Write a Convincing Essay When Applying to Portray your in a Good Light
Some departments in Texas may also require pretrial diversion program applicants to write an essay discussing why they want to join. It is similar to the interview stage, as you have a chance to present your case. Thus, you should take your time to prepare a coherent and convincing essay for your benefit.
Find Recommendations from Reputable Referees to Strengthen Your Application
Lastly, finding a suitable referee to support your application is ideal for increasing the chances of acceptance into the program. When finding a referee, be sure to work with a person you have interacted with before in various capacities. The best option is to identify your superiors at work, school, or in a different program.
Additionally, your probation officer is an excellent reference point, particularly because they work on behalf of the court as well as for your benefit. If you follow through with the diversion program requirements, receiving a good recommendation or reference from your officer becomes easy.
Requirements to Join a Pretrial Program
Once the pretrial diversion program board approves your application, you are now ready to begin. However, you want to continue preparing for the period by understanding what you need to deliver.
Further, you should also be familiar with the repercussions of failing to adhere to the program guidelines. Upon default in fulfilling the requirements, the judge is likely to suspend program participation. This means you will revert to facing the regular trial and sentencing process, which may yield detrimental outcomes for you.
Some requirements to uphold throughout the program period include:
You Should Accept your DWI Offense
Acceptance of your involvement in a DWI violation is mandatory before beginning the diversion program. Often, the assigned officer will require you to sign a typed document confessing to the particulars of your case, as well as the arrest details.
When signing the admission, you want to be cautious about the contents of the document. This is to avoid admitting to false information that could create disadvantages before undertaking the program.
You Should Not Have a Prior Arrest Record
Moreover, only first-time offenders qualify for the pretrial diversion program, including any offenses beyond a DWI. The restriction is to prevent repeat offenders from benefiting from an expungement, as it may promote complacency.
Hence, you will have your background check conducted upon submitting your application to join the diversion program. An officer will then run a background check on your name and follow through to establish that your record is clean.
No Accident Should Have Occurred Before Arrest
Typically, DWI cases resulting in a road accident involve serious consequences. The accident may indicate that you were severely intoxicated, leading to a loss of vehicle control. As a result, you are less likely to have been below the BAC level threshold of 0.08 and will have to face legal repercussions.
Compliance with the Texas Open Container Regulations
Another important detail to confirm is that you compiled with the Texas open container requirement. The rule states that a driver should not have an open container with alcoholic contents on the driver or passenger seat. Under the guidelines, a driver may face legal repercussions even when you are not driving.
Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels Should Be Below the Threshold
The standard legal BAC level in Texas is 0.08%. Any driver found to have a percentage above the level is answerable for violating the law. Since the police officers at the DWI checkpoint will have recorded the breathalyzer readings, they will retrieve them and present them to the judge. Once the judge approves your reading, they will issue orders to join the diversion program.
Your Driver's License and Insurance Should be Valid
Driving without license or with an invalid license is a punishable offense, as it indicates non-compliance with traffic regulations. Therefore, the pretrial program officers will need to verify your driver's license to ensure you can operate a vehicle in Texas.
On top of this, every motorist should have a comprehensive insurance cover in case of an incident. Without it, you will be liable for negligence as well as legal violations. This is the case even where you are not necessarily involved in an accident.
Subsequently, updating your license and insurance cover is important, as you will need the documents in case of arrest. Any findings that contradict your claims of having a valid license and insurance may result in the cancellation of your program.
Compliance with FBI Background Checks
As mentioned, the pretrial diversion program is only available for first-time offenders, meaning you do not have a criminal background. As a result, the program officers overseeing admission of members may require you to submit to an FBI background check.
Through the information they find, they can determine whether you issued truthful information. Afterward, you will have better chances of joining the diversion program for a chance to secure expungement.
Non-Resistance to Urine and Chemical Tests
If the presiding judge suspects you are likely to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, they may also require you to submit to random drug tests. An outright refusal will indicate your guilt or unwillingness to cooperate, jeopardizing your chances of success in the program.
Further, you may be answerable to harsher conditions for drinking or using drugs. Since the drug tests are random, you want to avoid the consumption of illegal substances during the program.
Compliance With the Requisite Fees to Process the Pretrial Diversion
Lastly, the department handling your pretrial diversion program requires you to pay administrative fees. The standard amount payable is $302, but additional circumstances may cause a price increase or decrease.
You should purposely pay the fees at the prescribed time to avoid inconveniences and delays. Alternatively, you can request your lawyer to transact on your behalf and make repayments later. Since the fees cater to all processing needs, nobody should ask for additional payments. You can report the matter to your attorney or an overseeing officer for further action in case of any requests.
Expectations to Meet After Joining the Pretrial Diversion Program
While the pretrial diversion program provides a great chance to start over after a DWI violation, you will need to meet numerous requirements. The expectations begin right from the application process to when you join the program.
In some cases, the scrutiny continues beyond completing the program and receiving an expungement order. The court does this to keep you on your toes so that you avoid involvement in another DWI.
The following are some important requirements to fulfill for a successful pretrial diversion program:
Installing an Ignition Interlock Device
After driving under the influence, the court will need to ensure you do not operate your vehicle when drunk or high again. Doing so would violate the Texas DWI laws, on top of contravention of the program guidelines.
As a result, you will need to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle. The device is connected to your engine and only allows you to start the car if your BAC levels are below the legal threshold. Therefore, you will need to blow into the device every time you use your car to verify your compliance with the regulations.
Seeking Permission Before Leaving Texas
Moreover, you will need to inform the presiding judge of your intention to leave the state at any time. They will then grant or deny you permission depending on your diversion program track record.
Normally, law enforcement officers and judicial officials need to track your whereabouts to prevent flight risk cases. These occur when a person answerable for a legal violation flees the state to avoid legal consequences. Hence, you want to follow the regulation as directed to avoid additional consequences.
Attending Counselling Sessions
Some cases may involve parties that portray additional mental health issues on top of drunk driving. If so, the presiding judge will direct you to attend counseling lessons with a court-appointed professional.
Typically, you should be willing to attend counseling as long as it is relevant to the case. However, some parties are adamant about their refusal to participate, resulting in mandatory orders from the court.
Most mandatory counseling directives may yield unsuccessful outcomes because the patient is not invested in recovering. Understanding the importance of treating different issues can be useful in being more open to the process.
Compliance with Curfew Rules if Applicable
Issuance of curfew rules is also a common directive in the pretrial diversion program. It is often assigned to parties who display a likelihood of drunk driving after being out at a specific time. Mostly, people tend to drink socially after work and late into the night.
The judge will therefore attempt to control the tendencies by instituting a strict curfew that you must observe. Although a probation officer is assigned to ensure you comply with the rules, taking the initiative to observe the curfew by yourself is more beneficial. You will have displayed a sense of responsibility, which is essential in completing the program.
Making Regular Reports With the Assigned Probation Officer
Further, a probation officer is assigned to ensure you follow the program guidelines and remain consistent in undertaking your duties. Part of your responsibility is regularly reaching out to your probation officer and issuing a report on your activities.
For example, if you participate in community service, you can report how many hours you attended and what duties you fulfilled. You are advised to provide truthful information, as the probation officer can easily confirm your report with the officers on the ground.
Additionally, having the officer on your side is beneficial in the long run, as they will appear before the judge after your diversion program duration lapses. The appearance will be a hearing to determine whether you have earned a chance for expungement. Thus, cooperating with your probation officer increases their chances of providing a positive report about you.
Completing the Assigned Community Service Projects
Although completing a community service project may be tasking and time-consuming, you should aim to complete it as required. Many judges issue orders as a gauge for your commitment levels. Hence, you want to take the hours seriously and attend briefing meetings earlier.
If you have genuine reasons not to attend a community service session, you can contact your probation officer or the personnel on the ground. Doing so portrays you as an accountable person who is willing to maintain open communication.
Compliance With Random Drug Test Requirements
Finally, a DWI violation may indicate a likelihood of addiction. Hence, the judge may order you to appear for random drug tests. They check whether you have stopped alcohol or drug consumption and are, therefore, on your way to making a full recovery.
If any findings suggest you consumed drugs when you were not supposed to, it could lead to termination of your program. Consequently, you may be arraigned in court for a DWI hearing, followed by the issuance of regular penalties.
Contact a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
Finding a way to maintaining a good reputation and record is essential, particularly if facing DWI charges. Thanks to the Pretrial Diversion Program, you can explore case expungement options to help absolve you of a criminal record after committing a DWI. Nevertheless, you need to meet all the requirements expected of you, which is not always easy. Therefore, working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is advisable to help smoother the diversion program period.
Choosing Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer is an excellent starting point to raise chances of joining the program. Moreover, you can count on the legal team to provide additional support as you undertake the program. They do this to ensure you do not fall off the wagon, as it would be detrimental to the brand. Thus, you are welcome to make any requests or consultations before proceeding with an application. If you or a loved one needs information on how to join a pretrial diversion program in Fort Worth, Texas, contact us today at 817-470-2128.