If you are charged with DWI and meet certain requirements, you may be eligible for a program known as DWI Pre-Trial Intervention (DWI PTI). DWI PTI is a contract that a defendant makes with the District Attorney’s Office that if he or she completes certain requirements, then the case will be dismissed. Being on DWI PTI is actually very much like being on probation, except that after completing the program, the case will be dismissed, whereas a person on regular probation will have a permanent conviction.
You should be wary of a criminal defense attorney who seems focused on getting you into DWI PTI at your first meeting. It is always preferable to have a case dismissed outright and without all the requirements of DWI PTI. However, the program can be a good option for certain defendants as it is a guaranteed way of keeping a case off your record. But it is important to remember that DWI PTI is never a substitute for fully and aggressively defending a DWI case.
Who is eligible for DWI PTI?
In Harris County, if you are arrested for DWI, you may be eligible for DWI PTI if you meet certain requirements. Although the requirements have changed over the years, currently the requirements are as follows:
- You cannot have any prior criminal history of any kind (not counting traffic tickets).
- Your breath or blood result cannot be greater than .15.
- You must have possessed a valid license and auto insurance on the date of your arrest.
- You must not have been involved in a serious accident (auto accidents are evaluated on a case-by-case basis).
What are the requirements for DWI PTI?
The requirements will vary from person to person (based on the results of a mandatory evaluation and the facts of the case), but at a minimum, you will have to perform community service hours, complete DWI-related classes, maintain an interlock in your vehicle and meet with a probation officer once a month. If the District Attorney’s Office believes that you have a substance abuse problem, you could be asked to complete outpatient or in-patient counseling.
When should I make the decision to apply for DWI PTI?
You should only apply for DWI PTI after your attorney fully reviews the evidence with you and explains all of your options. You should have a firm understanding of what is alleged in the offense report, how the videos look (including the scene video, body cameras and station videos), what the breath or blood results are, and what problems your attorney has discovered with the case that could be used in your favor. Only after you fully understand the evidence and the risks involved with going to trial, should you consider applying for DWI PTI.
What is the process for applying?
If you decide that you would like to apply for DWI PTI, you will be asked to submit a written application. Your attorney should help you fill out the application as the answers could theoretically be used against you. It is important to remember that the application asks you for incriminating information, such as what you were drinking on the day of your arrest. You will be asked to submit a copy of the auto insurance that was in effect on the day of your arrest.
What are some reasons I would not want to apply?
As noted, the answers in the application could be used against you in some instances. If you are kicked out of the program, for example, it is possible that you will wish to go to trial in order to keep a conviction off your record. Although there are some legal limitations to what the District Attorney’s Office can do with your application at trial, they might be able to introduce your statement, particularly if you testify inconsistently with what is in your application.
If I am not admitted into the program, is there a way to appeal the decision?
Yes. If you are not allowed into the program, your attorney can file what is known as a “mitigation packet” which typically includes letters of recommendation, proof of employment and community involvement, and other information to persuade the District Attorney’s Office to make an exception in your case.
What happens if I successfully complete the DWI PTI program?
When you enter the program, you will be given a date to come back to court one year after you begin the program. If you finish the program successfully, your case will be dismissed when you come back to court, on the one year anniversary. Once your case is dismissed, you will be eligible to have your records expunged (which is the best result in a criminal case as all records of your arrest are literally destroyed and you may deny the existence of the arrest). However, there may be a waiting period after your case is dismissed and the District Attorney’s Office will ask you to agree that they may retain a record of the fact that you completed the program.
Contact Our Houston DWI Attorney
If you are arrested for DWI anywhere in the Greater Houston area, it is important to hire a knowledgeable, aggressive DWI attorney to fight your case. A smart DWI attorney will see the DWI PTI program as another tool in the arsenal, and not something to accept without truly challenging the State’s case. If you are arrested for DWI, attorney Jose Ceja is an excellent choice and can discuss your options with you at no cost. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your DWI case.