All 9 Types of DWI Dismissals in Travis County
All 9 Types of DWI Dismissals in Travis County
Hi, I'm Charlie Roadman, Austin criminal defense attorney, and today I'm going to talk about all the different ways a DWI case is possibly dismissed in Travis County. So there are quite a few, so let me just mention them first, rejection of the charges, straight dismissal, pre-trial diversion, deferred prosecution, class C ticket, obstruction of a highway, the specialty courts project engage and veteran's court, a suppression hearing, a jury trial, or there is a new thing called deferred adjudication, which is not a dismissal, but it's not a conviction if you complete it properly. So we're going to talk about each of these individually.
So let's start with rejection of the charges. And this would be if the county attorney, after reviewing the evidence, decides that charges shouldn't be filed. This doesn't happen very often. It's quite rare. Usually, something like where the blood comes back under the limit, well under the limit, like 0.03, there's no drugs, they've watched the video and the person exhibits something, but it may just be their physiology, how they behave or act and they reject the charges. It's not really anything a defense attorney can influence, or at least not a whole lot, and it doesn't happen very much.
The second way is a straight dismissal. That's also rare, but that's after the charge has been filed. Usually, it's an under the limit breath and the there's no collision or anything like that, the facts are not bad so someone that blew a 0.06. And even though technically the law allows for 0.06 someone to be found intoxicated. The limits 0.08, but there's another way you can be intoxicated and that's if you've lost the normally use of your physical or mental faculties. So a straight dismissal doesn't happen very much either and usually if the prosecutor's willing to do it, their facts aren't... they're not good for the prosecutor. And usually the defendant has to do a few things, including the class. Straight dismissal doesn't happen very often.
Pre-trial diversion. Now, this is something relatively new. It's about two or three years old. And that's a dismissal. If you complete the program and the program consists just basically of you blowing into a breathalyzer three times a day for a year into these windows. There's two hour windows, basically morning, afternoon, and night, to prove that you haven't had anything to drink. And to get in this program, you have to apply. There's some rules, the BAC has to be under .15 and there can't be any collision. Again, they have to approve you into the program, but people do this and it's a dismissal and it's expungable, which is of course the goal of any case.
Now, deferred prosecution is a contract between you and the county attorney, not to get in trouble and to do some things. They have a checklist of things for you to do and usually it's a year, 18 months, two years, and they'll dismiss the case up front. But if you don't follow the rules or you get arrested, they'll re-file the DWI. Now this used to be more common. They don't do it as much anymore, but it is a dismissal that would be expungeable. Generally, if we're trying to get deferred prosecution, the prosecutors just say, you should do pre-trial diversion. So this doesn't happen as often, but I'm including it for completeness sake.
A class C ticket. Okay. Is if they reduce the case to a class C ticket, as long as that ticket is deferred, that will be expungeable as well. This is a really good result, and it doesn't happen a whole lot, but we get quite a few of them, but really only when our client's cases, the facts aren't bad. Okay? No collision, the BAC is in the medium range like .11, .10, not too high and the client does a lot of work in terms of alcohol monitoring, classes, things like that. Class C ticket is considered a major victory and it's expungeable as long as it's deferred, which we make sure it always is.
The one people hear a lot about obstruction of a highway is a reduction... Obstruction of a highway is a class B, and it does involve probation and the DWIs dismissed, but the obstruction of a highway, even if it's deferred it is inexpungible. So you can't expunge the DWI and the obstruction of a highway together, although the DWI would say dismissed. Obstruction of a highway is like if you're blocking a road, there's probation and that has all the things that probation has. You have probation officer there are rules. Basically, it's a compromise. The county attorney thinks, okay, well, this person might not do this again. They've learned their lesson, the facts aren't too bad. So we'll dismiss the DWI, but put them on this probation for obstruction of a highway. This is considered a major victory as well. Anytime you're getting a DWI dismissed that's great, but there are a lot of things. A client's still on probation for obstruction of a highway.
This other option doesn't happen as much because they're specialty courts. And so project engage is for very young people. And that's typically 17 to 20, and they have to apply and get accepted, but they do to have a DWI dismissal track. And then there's veteran's court. It's the same thing you have to apply and qualify and there is a dismissal track if they let you into that program and agree to that.
Now we're getting to the parts where it's not as much a plea bargain, it's winning a legal battle. And so if you have a suppression hearing and you win, meaning all the evidence is thrown out based on some sort of constitutional violation by the officer, the case will be dismissed. Okay? The most common one on the DWI is if the officer didn't have a legitimate reason to pull you over. They always say they do, but sometimes when you review the video, you see, no, it didn't happen like that at all and the officer's either mistaken or something else. If the judge agrees that the officer didn't have a legitimate reason to pull you over, they'll suppress the evidence and the county attorney will usually just dismiss the case a right after that. So that's a legal battle to get it dismissed.
Now, of course, your main constitutional right is to have a jury trial. So if you're acquitted by a jury, okay? Your case is basically dismissed and it's eligible for an expunction, that certainly happens. Jury trials happen. Probably one out of 300 cases go to jury trial.
And then finally, I'm just including this just for completeness sake, deferred adjudication is a relatively new law that allows this for DWI. It used to be they were not allowed to do deferred adjudication on a DWI case but now they are. But it's not a dismissal, but if you complete it's not a conviction. Okay? And you're eligible for a sealing of it. Okay? In either two or five years, depending on the facts of the probation and you can't have had a collision with this, that's Travis county policy. Your BAC has to be under .15. Anyway, there's some rules about that we're happy to explain it. But I just wanted to bring this one up because while it's not a dismissal, it's something that is better than a straight conviction on it.
All right. That's really all of the different ways a DWI can be dismissed in Travis county. If you have any questions, give us call.