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Collin County Court 4 – DWI Program

Judge Ray Wheless, the County Judge of Collin County #4 is the only Judge in the county that offers a Drug Court and a DWI Program.

The DWI program is for repeat offenders.  Specifically those who think they have a problem with drugs or alcohol, and want help.

His court hears almost all DWI 2nd cases now.  There are some definite benefits to the program, but also some down sides.  There are also, in my opinion, some major unintended consequence of his having the program in his court.

One of the biggest downsides, is the harm that it causes someone who is charged with DWI 2nd, who is not a good candidate for his program for whatever reason.  One reason could be that the person’s first DWI was 20 years ago.  Under the current (new law) law, there is no longer a "10 year rule" regarding prior DWI’s. All DWI’s are now treated the same. 

The prosecutors in the court have taken it upon themselves to try and force people into the program.  How do they do this?  By making overly harsh offers on all DWI 2nds.  30 days jail.  Overly large fines.  Etc.  The point is to push someone into the program, but it traps people who shouldn’t be there.

Like I said, it can be a great program for the right people. 

Below is some information about the Judge’s program:

THE DWI PROGRAM

The DWI program is a post-conviction program designed primarily for people with multiple DWI convictions or with chronic alcohol issues who are willing to admit they have a problem with alcohol.  If you don’t believe you have a drinking problem, then you don’t belong in the Program.

If you admit you have a drinking problem and want help, and if the District Attorney accepts you into the program, you can avoid the possibility of a long jail sentence and large fine by successfully completing the Program.  However, not everyone is suited for the Program.  The Program is difficult and requires a commitment to stop drinking and follow rules.  For some, jail time and a fine may be more appropriate.

You enter the DWI Program by pleading guilty and being sentenced to the DWI Program.  If you plead not guilty but are convicted by a judge or jury, you are not eligible for the Program.

BENEFITS OF THE DWI PROGRAM

1.  The most important benefit of the DWI Program is that it benefits you. If you complete the Program, you will be on the road to a successful, alcohol-free life.  Your family, ,friends and employer will see a new you — a person who is clean, sober, reliable and responsible.

2.  A second offense DWI carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.  When you enter into the Program, you will be sentenced to a period of time in jail which will be probated.  You will be ordered to serve ten days as a term and condition of probation.  However, you will not serve any time in jail if you enter into an intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment program.  And instead of being on the usual two-year probation period, you will serve a one-year probation term, provided that you successfully complete the Program.  Also, if you successfully complete the Program, the cost of your inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment program will be credited against the fine imposed in your case.

3.  In most cases, the law provides that you must install a deep lung device on your motor vehicle for up to two years after conviction of a second DWI offense.  If you enter the Program and are making satisfactory progress at the six-month mark, you will be allowed to remove the DLD from your vehicle.

4.  A person who enters into the Program will have his Texas driver’s license suspended for the minimum period of time authorized by law and will be given credit against any period of suspension for a refusing to take a breath test.  A person who enters into the Program will be granted an occupational license without the necessity of an SR-22.

5.  A person who enters into the Program who had a BAC of .16 or higher at the time of their arrest will receive a conviction for driving while intoxicated as a result of the loss of normal use of mental or physical faculties rather tan the BAC result, potentially saving the person thousands of dollars in DWI surcharges.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE EVALUATION AND TREATMENT

To help determine the extent of your substance abuse problem, every DWI/Drug Court participant must undergo a substance abuse evaluation.  Based upon that evaluation, a certain regimen of treatment will be recommended for you.  You must participate in every aspect of your treatment just as recommended by the evaluation.  If you are not willing to follow the counselor’s recommendations, you should not enter into the Program.  Missed appointments and failure to follow your counselor’s recommendations indicate that you do not believe you have a substance abuse problem and you will be discharged from the Program.  Once discharged, you are not eligible for re-entry.

GENERAL RULES OF DWI/DRUG COURT

1. Submit to an initial alcohol/drug evaluation
2. Follow all recommendations of the substance abuse evaluator.
3. Do not drink or possess any alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, marijuana or prescription drugs without a valid prescription
4. Submit to random breath tests and urinalysis as often as requested by the Court or anyone acting on the Court’s behalf
5. Appear at all counseling sessions and Court hearings
6. Attend all AA or NA meetings as recommended
7.  Do not drive a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, and if ordered by the eh Court, do not drive a motor vehicle unless it is equipped with a deep lung device.
8. Obey all laws of the State of Texas
9. Obtain and maintain employment, attend school, or a combination of both.
10. Notify the Court and your probation officer of any changes in employment or residence address.
11. Do not resided with or associate with anyone who uses illegal substances.
12. Pay all fines, court costs and fees when due.
13 Comply with all terms and conditions of the Participant contract entered into with the Court and the District Attorney.
14. Comply with all terms and conditions of probation.

BREATH TESTS AND DRUG TESTS

If you decide to enter into the Program, your alcohol and drug use must end or you will not be successful.  Because we want you to succeed, you will be frequently randomly tested for both alcohol and drugs.

While we hope everyone in the Program will abstain from alcohol and drug use, we realize that some people will slip.  If you slip while in the Program, admit it.  You may sign a form admitting the use of alcohol and /or drugs and the consequences will be less severe than a positive test.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The DWI/Drug Court Program consists of three phases

Phase I – (Day 1-90)

Phase 1 is the most intensive phase and will focus on abstinence, education and prevention.  Each participant will be ordered to install and maintain a deep lung device on any vehicle they operate, excluding employer owned vehicles.  Inpatient or outpatient alcohol/drug treatment may be ordered by the Court if recommended by a substance abuse counselor.  In addition, each participant will be screened by a physician of their choice to determine whether he is a suitable candidate for Campral, Re Via (Naltrexone) or Antabuse for the purpose of reducing the participant’s alcohol dependence.  In addition, participants are required to attend one self-help meeting per day for ninety days and then once a week thereafter while they are in the program.  After
release from treatment, if any, participants are required to report in person to their probation officer once per week, provide at least one random drug test per week, and if accepted into an outpatient treatment program, attend treatment at least twice per week, and appear before the DWI/Drug Court Judge once per week.

Phase II (Day 91-180)

The requirements of Phase II are much the same as Phase I with the exception that the Defendant will be required to report to his probation officer every other week and appear before the DWI/Drug Court judge every other week.  Additional requirements involved in this phase of the program including attending the victim impact panel and completing a portion of the ordered community service.

Phase III (Day 181-360)

In Phase III of the program, the defendant is required to meet once a month with his probation officer and to appear once a month before the DWI/Drug Court Judge.  The Defendant is also required to complete the remainder of his hours of community service.  Community service hours are performed at a non-profit agency selected by both the defendant and the Probation Officer in an attempt to appropriately place the defendant n a position of service which is not  only going to help prepay the community but to also make the defendant aware of individuals who could have possibly suffered ad a direct result of the defendant’s crime.

During the aftercare  program, the Defendant will be required to sign a form declaring himself to be alcohol and drug free. At that time, the Defendant may be required to submit to an alcohol/drug test.  The defendant will also be required to attend one self help group meeting per month.  Once the defendant has successfully fulfilled all program requirements his Probation Officer will notify the Court that the Defendant is eligible for release from the program.

GRADUATION

The ultimate goal of the DWI/Drug Court Program is to achieve and maintain permanent sobriety for each Defendant in the program.  Ultimately, each defendant will graduate from the Program, resulting in a reduction in sentence in DWI cases.  When the objectives of the Program are achieved, the Defendant will attend a Graduation Ceremony and his case finally disposed.