DWI Deferred Adjudication

The Real Facts

The first and least known fact is: it is a conviction.

I know that the judgment reads “deferred,” and that the judge says if you are successful with your supervision he will dismiss your case. However, the State of Texas will not forget your experience in court. It will continue to report it to the police, and when you get stopped for speeding they will see you on their computer: “DWI, deferred.” They know if they arrest you for DWI it will be your second charge, and it will be a DWI second offense at that time, a Class A misdemeanor. Sorry, but that is actually the law now. Your third arrest will be a felony. What happened to the “deferred?” Well, it is now a conviction.

Therefore, you should not take lightly the decision to go on probation for any DWI – deferred or otherwise. What the new law also did was to allow the State to use the deferred as a conviction if you ever get in trouble again with a DWI. Thus your second DWI – 40 years later – will still be a repeat offense.

Nevertheless, you can tell your boss that the case was dismissed. However, it will not take long for employers to know that you still have a record – particularly governmental employers.

With the deferred you can later (two years later) file a petition for nondisclosure and have your record hidden from some employers and other people who do background checks. Yes, but you can do the same thing with a conviction for a DWI class B misdemeanor. What the law actually did was to stop the $3000 administrative penalty for a DWI conviction that was used to invalidate your license if you did not pay it. Then the law substituted a $6000 fine for a deferred adjudication DWI. In many counties, such as Bexar, the fine may be negotiated down (it was supposed to be mandatory), but it is generally higher than for a DWI conviction.

You will not receive a suspension of your driver license with a deferred (other than that from the ALR suspension), but with a DWI conviction you will not receive a suspension either (other than that from the ALR suspension), so long as you take the DWI education class on line. Additionally, you will be required to take that same class with a deferred DWI as a condition of supervision. With a deferred DWI you will be required to have an ignition interlock for six months, but you may not be required to have an ignition interlock with a DWI class B conviction.

I encourage young people to fight their case when possible. There really is no easy way out of this. A jury trial is stressful, but it may be your only way to clear your record.

It seems so simple to just take a deferred and walk away. You walk away, but you are still carrying some baggage. And the State of Texas has a long memory.