The Harris County DWI Pre-Trial Intervention Program is continually changing. So if you have specific questions about this program feel free to call me.
I will explain a bit about this program at the time of this writing.
A Pre-Trial Intervention is a program that allows someone to “earn” a dismissal. If you are placed on a PTI for a DWI, you will be enrolled in the program for 1 year (where you basically complete a probation, even though your case is pending, and you are not on probation), and if you are successful, your case will be dismissed.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
- You must be charged with a first time, class B DWI
- The DAs office prefers people with clean records (but are accepting individuals with certain prior arrest/convictions on a case by case basis)
- Individuals with a valid drivers license and insurance at the time of stop are preferred (but this has not been a deal breaker as of late, as it once was)
- You must have had a breath or blood test that is under .15 (although they are now considering people with BACs close to .15 if slightly over)
- The DAs office prefers that you do not have an accident (not 100% a deal breaker, but its pushing it)
HOW DO I APPLY? WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
- With your lawyer you get the DA to evaluate the case. If they approve you, they will let you know and you have to run it passed the judge.
- All judges are different, and many will not accept people in the program for a variety of reasons (some disqualify for accidents, open containers, high BACs, prior crimes, a bad TRAS etc). It is absolutely not fair that the rule isn’t across the board, and judges should not be interfering with contracts between the State and defendants, but it is something we are unfortunately having to deal with at the moment
- Once approved by everyone you will fill out an application in court with your lawyer. The application will ask you for your basic info, and you will also fill out short statements explaining where you were on the night of your arrest, where you were going, how much you had to drink, and an explanation of why you need the PTI, and why PTI is more appropriate for you than a basic probation.
- You will also fill out a waiver that states in more complex terms that if you mess up on your PTI, and they void your contract, that all the statements you wrote in your application will be used against you if you decide to go to trial.
- Once the application is complete, the CLO (probation officer of the court) will set you up for a TRAS (Texas Risk Assessment System) interview. This interview will indicate whether they believe you are at low, moderate, or high risk to get into trouble again (or your ability to be successful on this program). Some judges use this as a basis to decide if they will let you enter the program or not (which is ridiculous!!!)
- You will be given a date to go to your TRAS interview. On that interview date you will have to pay $300 (this number is continually changed) to be interviewed. Once the interview is complete, the interviewer issues a report and sends it to the court.
- If everything is approved, prior to your final court date, the DA will send a copy of the contract to me, and I will fill everything out with you.
- The contract will explain all of the conditions (typically community service, a DWI education class, an interlock device, monthly supervision fees, random drug tests, monthly meetings with a program supervising officer, no breaking the law, no alcohol, no drugs, no breath test refusals)
- On the day of court, we will turn the contract in, the judge will sign it, and you will get another reset for 1 year. In 1 year, when you come back to court, if you did everything you were supposed to do, and didn’t get in trouble again, then your case will be dismissed and you can eventually apply for an expunction (the time is determined by your contract, typically 2 years after dismissal)
- If you mess up while you are on the program, they will remove you from the program, put you back on the docket and you will start all over again as if you had never been placed in the program before.
This really is a great program for those that do not want to trial and qualify. It is basically a guaranteed dismissal, where you hold your destiny in your own hands (instead of leaving your fate to a jury)
WHEN IS THIS PROGRAM BAD FOR ME?
You are not a good candidate if any of these reasons apply to you:
- You are a heavy drug user and will not stop (you will get caught)
- You are a heavy drinker and will not stop (you will get caught)
- You feel like you would break the law again
- You don’t have a driver’s license and will not be able to stop driving (you will get caught)
- You will not get approved (no need to apply and confess to everything if they won’t even approve you)
Again, these rules seem to change every few months.