“Shocking” DWI Offenders in Texas

Stephen Powers recently pled guilty to intoxication manslaughter in Texas District Court. Powers had a blood-alcohol level of .08 when he lost control of his speeding car which overturned and hit a brick church sign in Grapevine. The crash caused the death of Power’s friend, Michael Bentley.

When it came to his sentence the Judge Scott Wisch offered Powers a choice: He could either spend five years in prison or elect a 10-year term that could be decreased to six months with good behavior. Powers elected to take the six-month option.

What is Shock Probation?

The sentence Powers selected is referred to as “shock probation.” The hope with this type of sentence is that offenders will be shocked by the trauma they experience in prison for a few months. This shock will then serve to deter them from committing any further offenses.

Ideally, shock probation provides the deterrent effects of prison without causing any long-term ill effects. Offenders are scared straight without turning into hardened criminals.

In Texas, shock probation can be granted within the first six months an offender is serving a sentence. No one is automatically entitled to shock probation; it is up to the judge’s discretion. A judge must find the offender would not benefit from further imprisonment and would instead be better suited for probation. Felony offenders are only eligible if this is the first felony conviction for which they are serving time.

Texas is one of several states that offer shock probation or similar “boot camps” for less serious crimes and first-time offenders. Such programs have been useful in decreasing prison populations, but their effectiveness in preventing repeat offenders has not been widely proven. The effectiveness of shock probation may largely depend on how lenient judges are in granting it to offenders.

Other Consequences of DWI/DUI Charges in Texas

Shock probation is just one of several sentences someone convicted of DWI may receive. Penalties vary based on the facts of the case including prior offenses, blood alcohol level, speed, if there was a child passenger and if others were injured. Examples of punishments include DWI surcharges, substantial fines, license suspension and jail time.

If you are facing DWI or DUI charges you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can explain your legal options and work to advance your interests.