Those convicted of drunk driving in Houston face stiff penalties, including license revocation, large fines, a possible jail sentence and probation. Currently there are about 13,000 people on probation in Harris County for a misdemeanor DWI. Under a series of new initiatives from the county's probation department, probation for DWI offenders may soon get even tougher.
The new director of the probation department, in office since last year, is implementing a number of reforms aimed at reducing DWI fatalities. These include implementing a more intensive risk assessment of those convicted of a drunk driving offense. Those individuals who are determined to be at high risk of reoffending can be assigned to probation officers who have received specialized training in the psychology of repeat drunk driving. To help these probation officers devote more time to individual cases, their case loads will be reduced.
The intensified focus on drunk driving is in response to the high number of drunk driving fatalities in Harris County. The county leads high-population counties in Texas in the rate of DWI deaths, and in some years leads large counties nationwide. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 175 people died and 942 were seriously injured in drunk driving wrecks in the county in 2012, the most recent year for which the department has statistics.
No one can argue with the county's laudable goal of reducing drunk driving deaths. But those facing a DWI charge are still presumed innocent until proven guilty, and they have constitutional rights that must be respected. An experienced DWI defense lawyer can challenge the state's evidence and work to get the best possible result for the client.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Harris County going all out to reduce drunken driving deaths," Jayme Fraser, May 11, 2014