Tarrant County DWI Court

 In Criminal

Tarrant County DWI Court

Judge Deborah Nekhom, the presiding judge over County Criminal Court Number Four in Tarrant County, has successfully established a DWI Court in Tarrant County.

A DWI Court is designed to prevent high-risk high-needs individuals from reoffending. A misdemeanor DWI Court focuses on identifying and treating individuals that might otherwise continue to drink and drive, putting themselves and others at risk and thereby risking felony DWI allegations (a third DWI in Texas is a felony). DWI Courts ultimately save taxpayer dollars by holding DWI offenders accountable by treating the underlying costs of repeat drunk driving offenses. Based on a study conducted on three similar DWI courts in Georgia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that recidivism rates dropped from 35% to 15%. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, An Evaluation of the Three Georgia DUI Courts, March 2011 (DOT HS 811 450).

A number of counties in Texas have DWI Court programs including Bexar County, Harris County, and Dallas County.

The goal of a misdemeanor DWI Court is to rehabilitate high-risk high-needs individuals by setting out stringent conditions they must follow that is more intensive than a typical probation. Additionally, participants in DWI programs receive individualized attention and immediate sanctions for any violations.

What are the advantages of a DWI Court Program?

Judge Nekhom developed the Tarrant County DWI Court after researching both the supporting legislation and other counties in Texas that successfully implemented the program. The DWI Court is not a diversion program, in the sense that it does not allow a person to avoid a conviction. Instead, it is a post-plea program that offers many advantages over a typical DWI-Misdemeanor Repetition probation.For example, these advantages include:

These advantages include:

• Suspension of DWI fees of up to $4,000;
• Suspension as days in jail as a condition of probation; and
• Financial incentives in obtaining an occupational license.

DWI Court Programs and Nondisclosures

The Tarrant County DWI Court fulfils the conditions laid out in Government Code 123.001, including:

• A non-adversarial approach to promote public safety;
• Early identification and prompt placement of eligible participants into the program;
• Access to a continuum of alcohol-treatment and rehabilitative services;
• Monitoring abstinence through weekly alcohol testing.

Until January 1, 2017, Government Code 123.001 allows individuals who successfully complete programs such as these to obtain nondisclosures sealing the offense from their criminal records. This is not possible with any other disposition after a plea of guilty on a DWI in Texas. Although the DWI Court Program in Tarrant County is designed to take one year, it is anticipated that dedicated participants may have an opportunity to accelerate their graduation date.

Tarrant County DWI Court Program Requirements

The Tarrant County DWI Court Program will be divided into four phases. The first phase will be the most intensive in regards to the classes and conditions a participant must complete. Participants will be required to attend AA, have a sponsor, regularly report to court and the Community Supervision and Corrections Department, and provide clean urine and drug tests to prove their sobriety. Participants will also interact with FAIP participants, who are facing felony DWI allegations to further remind the DWI Court Program Participants about the dangers of reoffending. The Court will have the ability to impose sanctions on participants, including jail time. The program is also designed to provide sanctions quickly to punish infractions

Prior 3(g) offenses and sex offenses make a person ineligible for entry into the DWI Court Program.

If you or a loved one are facing a second DWI charge in Tarrant County and are seeking representation, call us at (817) 203-2220 to discuss your case and to find out if you would be a good candidate for the Tarrant County DWI Diversion Court Program.

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