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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Harris County DIVERT Program Featured in Houston Chronicle

If you are arrested for DWI, or DUI in Houston, Harris County, Texas, you may be eligible for a new program run by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office known as DIVERT. The program is unique in Texas, and offers first time offenders a dismissal of their DWI or DUI case in exchange for undergoing a probation-like period. This week, the Houston Chronicle reported that approximately 1,800 DWI or DUI defendants have gone into the program since it began almost two years ago. Of those 1,800 Houston DWI or DUI defendants, about 1,400 have successfully completed the program, while about 400 have failed.

While the official goal of DIVERT is rehabilitation, it operates under the principle of the carrot and the stick. Specifically, if a Houston DUI or DWI defendant goes into the DIVERT program after consulting with a DUI or DWI attorney, he or she will plead “guilty” to the charge of DWI or DUI. But rather than sentencing the DUI or DWI defendant, the judge will then allow the defendant to participate in the DIVERT program. If the DWI or DUI defendant successfully completes the program – which includes, at a minimum, fines, an ignition interlock, community service, and alcohol education classes – the case will be dismissed, and can be expunged two years after the dismissal. If, however, a DUI or DWI defendant does not complete the program, or is kicked out for using alcohol (the program does have a zero-tolerance policy) a defendant will often be sent to jail, for as much as thirty days.

A top Houston DWI or DUI lawyer will see DIVERT as a good option in some cases, but it is certainly not for everyone. Even where a defendant is eligible for DIVERT, going to trial or pushing for a dismissal are often better options than DIVERT. A good Houston DWI or DUI attorney will not settle for DIVERT in many cases.