Why Do Some DWI Defendants Choose Jail Over Probation?

 Posted on April 27,2019 in DWI / DUI

Why Do Some DWI Defendants Choose Jail Over Probation?A first-time conviction for driving while intoxicated often does not include any jail time for the offender. Texas law does not require jail for a first-time offense, and courts prefer to give probation. However, some people choose to serve jail time instead of accepting the conditions of probation. Why would a defendant reject the chance to avoid jail time? For some, it is a matter of cost, hassle, and the duration of probation.


There are several conditions to being on probation, and violating them may result in you going to jail. People on probation for a DWI conviction often must:

  • Regularly report to a probation officer;
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol;
  • Submit to random alcohol breath tests;
  • Install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles;
  • Attend counseling or classes;
  • Perform community service; and
  • Remain in their county of residence, unless they receive court permission.

Some people find these conditions too prohibitive or fear that they will not be able to comply. They would rather serve time in jail and be free of these conditions once they are released.


A court can issue a fine of as much as $2,000 for your DWI conviction, whether you are sentenced to jail or probation. However, probation can cost thousands of dollars more because of the fees associated with its conditions, including:

  • A reporting fee for your probation officer;
  • An installation fee for your ignition interlock device;
  • Monthly fees for using the ignition interlock device; and
  • Fees for required classes and substance abuse evaluations.

A person on probation may also miss time at work in order to attend one of the required meetings. When the cost of probation is too high, defendants may believe that jail is the more practical choice.


Your jail sentence for a DWI conviction may last days or weeks, while probation can last more than a year. It is the length of your probation that can drive up the cost and make it feel like a hassle. Though less pleasant, some people prefer serving a shorter jail sentence rather than a longer probation sentence. There is also the possibility of reducing your jail time if you served time before your conviction or you earn good time credit while in jail.

Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Attorney

You must carefully consider your options if faced with the choice of jail or probation. Spending time in jail can be a scarring experience and may cause you to lose your job. Accepting probation can give you access to helpful services if you struggle with substance abuse. A San Antonio DWI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can advise you on your best option in the event that you are unable to avoid a conviction. Schedule your consultation by calling 210-226-0965.



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Bexar County

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San Antonio, Texas 78210