The Texas law blog world has been abuzz lately about the possibility of the Texas legislature signing into law a bill that would enable first time DWI offenders to plead out and receive deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication, which was abolished in Texas for DWI offenders back in 1984, is traditionally a sort of quasi-probation where the offender may be entitled to have the charge dismissed and his or her record cleaned up upon completion of the terms of the requirements of the plea (community service, treatment, probation, etc.).
But, as currently drafted, the Texas bill (House Bill 189) doesn’t call for your ordinary, everyday Texas deferred adjudication scenario. Instead, there are several catches. While the offender would be entitled to a shot at “deferred adjudication,” it’s not the same type of deferred adjudication that we are accustomed to in Texas. Instead, as proposed, the offender would not be entitled to seal the records of the DWI conviction or arrest – a major benefit of deferred adjudication as we currently know it. And, there’s another big difference. The bill also incorporates a modification to the definition of a “prior conviction” as that phrase is used for enhancement purposes for subsequent offenses. More specifically, as proposed, the bill would enable the state to prosecute a person with a “DWI deferred adjudication” conviction as a repeat-offender because such a conviction would specifically be included in the definition of a prior final conviction.
So here’s how this new proposed law might work: You could get arrested for DWI, plead out and get deferred adjudication, complete the terms of your sentence, and then still have to disclose your DWI to anybody who asks in the future. Also, if you get charged with DWI again, it’s not your first offense – you would have an enhanced sentence if convicted. Sound fair? Interestingly enough, while the bill is widely supported by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), it is widely opposed by many Texas criminal defense attorneys.
On a completely unrelated note, the Associated Press has recently reported that terminal cancer survivor and Texas hero Lance Armstrong may still be in the gun sights of the United States Department of Justice for his alleged role in some sort of unexplained, undisclosed and still-under-investigation athletic doping scheme. The investigation began after former Lance Armstrong teammate and admitted liar Floyd Landis claimed that illegal athletic doping occurred on Lance’s team many years ago, in other far away countries. At least that’s what Floyd Landis has stated publicly (after he swore otherwise under oath in prior legal proceedings). I for one think our tax dollars should be spent on better things – but that’s just my opinion. I don’t mind sharing that I don’t care for multimillion dollar taxpayer-funded witch hunts based on the accusations of people like Floyd Landis.
(If you have been arrested by the Dallas Police Department for DWI, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.)