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Prosecutors Refile Charges in Vince Young Case

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for romberg.jpegIn February 2019, police charged the former quarterback with DWI. Fort Bend County prosecutors recently reduced those charges. And, Young may not even be convicted of that offense.

Young's Houston-based lawyer convinced prosecutors to reduce the charges to obstructing a highway, which like a second DWI, is a misdemeanor. Earlier, officers detained Young because he had stopped in the middle of the road. They smelled alcohol, and Young allegedly failed field sobriety tests. The former UT quarterback immediately claimed he was innocent. "I've got a real good lawyer, one of the best in the country," he said shortly after the arrest. "We're going to fight the case. It's just an allegation. I'm not guilty," he added.

Young's lawyer scheduled a trial date for the reduced charges.

Collateral DWI Consequences

Reducing DWI charges to another misdemeanor usually means fewer collateral consequences. The most common adverse DWI effects are higher insurance rates and DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) cases. The first consequence affects everyone, and the second one affects almost everyone.

People convicted of DWI must obtain high-risk SR-22 auto insurance and keep it for at least three years. As a result, their insurance premiums often double or even triple, depending on their overall driving records. When you see those ads claiming that the average cost of a DWI is $10,000, most of that cost is higher insurance rates.

Furthermore, DWI always involves drivers' license suspension. Many people ignore the suspension and keep driving. Others start driving again once the suspension period ends, but they do not pay the reinstatement fee or jump through the other required hoops. So, their licenses are still suspended.

Evidence in DWI Cases

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the DWI crackdown was in full swing, Parker County prosecutors never reduced DWI charges under any circumstances. Today, if the circumstantial evidence is extremely weak, they at least consider the possibility. The modern thinking is that it is better for the defendant to be convicted of something driving-related than to walk away with no conviction at all.

Many non-test cases are like the February Vince Young incident. There is plenty of evidence that the defendant had been drinking and was alcohol-impaired. But intoxication is a higher level of impairment. In Texas, people are not intoxicated until they completely lose their normal physical or mental functions.

These prosecutions usually come down to the field tests. The prosecutor must establish that the defendant failed them. Many Parker County jurors don't count technicalities, like taking the incorrect number of steps, as failures. Also, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant failed the field tests because of intoxication, and not because s/he was nervous, fatigued, or clumsy.

A DWI arrest is not the same thing as a DWI conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.

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