Harris County DA's Office Changes Tune on DWI DIVERT Program

The Harris County DWI DIVERT Program has turned into exactly what I expected at the inception of the program.  Despite the promises by Roger Bridgwater when the program was first created, the standard line that we are now hearing from prosecutors is, "If we evaluate the case for trial, the DWI Divert Program is no longer on the table as an option in this case."

A little background might help explain.  Roger Bridgwater, the Assistant Harris County District Attorney who came up with the DWI DIVERT Program, told members of the defense bar last year that the prosecutors in the courts would evaluate each Harris County DWI case on the merits.  He went on to say that the evaluation of the DWI case would not disqualify anyone from participating in the DWI DIVERT Program.

Because we are hearing it more and more often, I have to assume the DA's office has a new policy that they have yet to share with the defense bar and has gone back on its original promise.

Harris County Judge Questions Houston DWI DIVERT Program

Harris County Court Judge Bill Harmon questions the legality of the Harris County DWI DIVERT Program.  Does that sound familiar?  Seems like he is not the only one questioning it.

Judge Harmon tells 11 News of the controversial DWI DIVERT Program, "It's illegal."  He goes on to say of the Program, "All 14 of my colleagues are doing it. And certainly I could have gone along with this illegal program, and if I had, you wouldn't be sitting down here today." 

He is not alone in his thinking.  The legislature has made DWI one of the only crimes in Texas that is not eligible for deferred adjudication probation - that's right, one of the only crimes.  Murder, Aggravated Robbery, Burglary - all eligible for deferred adjudication probation, but not DWI.  The legislature took deferred adjudication away as possible outcome on a DWI back in the early 1980's.  Maybe its time the legislature revisited the idea of allowing deferred adjudication for those charged with DWI.