Judge Deborah Nekhom to preside over Tarrant County’s new DWI Court Program for Misdemeanor DWI Cases
Tarrant County has many specialty court programs for various types of criminal cases, but for DWI cases, the only specialty program available was limited to felony-level cases – the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP). Not anymore. After much debate, Tarrant County started a new specialty court designed for misdemeanor DWI cases (it is not currently listed on the county’s website). The program officially began on March 30, 2016. Judge Deborah Nekhom in County Criminal Court 4 is the presiding judge over the new DWI Court and she is dedicated to making it a success.
DWI Court is Designed for High-Risk / High-Need Offenders
The goal of the new DWI Court is to identify high-risk DWI defendants and intervene so that they do not end up with a felony DWI down the road. With the help of defense attorneys and clinical specialists, the program seeks to identify defendants with significant substance abuse issues, who are in need of serious help. While the specifics of the program are still being ironed out, our firm has been told that there will be strict oversight and accountability for all participants so that they can have the best chance of successfully completing the program and their DWI probation.
What are the benefits of the Tarrant County DWI Court?
The main benefit of participating in the new DWI Court is that participants will receive the counseling and support they need to overcome their addiction and live a health, productive, alcohol-free and drug-free lifestyle. In addition, some of the following benefits have been discussed and are being implemented:
- Probation time is reduced after completion of the program, allowing participants to enter into a non-reporting status;
- Waiver of DWI fines (up to $4,000)
- No program fees
- *Dismissal of the underlying DWI charge and allowance for a Non-Disclosure (*this expires on 1/1/17 with changes to the Texas Government Code)
Several other benefits are being considered and are not ripe for public discussion at this point.
How Do I Get a Client into the DWI Court?
If you have a client that would be a good candidate for misdemeanor DWI Court, you should get him or her an assessment ASAP to determine whether they are classified as high-risk / high-need. You should then discuss the option of DWI court with the presiding judge of your client’s DWI case. If, after seeing the assessment, the judge agrees that DWI court is a good option, he or she will transfer the case to CCC4 after your clients enters a plea of guilty to the DWI.
Contact Us for More Information About DWI Court
I realize that this article does not provide a lot in the way of specifics about the new program, but it only started yesterday and there are not a lot of specifics to publish at this point. If you have some questions, our DWI defense attorneys would be happy to answer them if we can. Contact our office at (817) 993-9249.