In 2018, Texas law enforcement officers arrested over 95,000 Texans for DWI. That figure was almost 10 percent higher than the 2017 arrest total. Prosecutors are very aggressive as well. The number of dismissals dropped sharply in 2018. In other words, Parker County prosecutors almost always pursue DWI cases, no matter how weak or strong the evidence is.
But an arrest and a court case is not the same thing as a conviction. There are a number of ways that Weatherford criminal attorneys can beat these charges in court. Rather surprisingly, most of them have nothing to do with intoxication.
Not Driving the Vehicle
Many people are also surprised to learn that “driving” is not an element of Driving While Intoxicated in Texas. Operation and control are enough. If the defendant had the keys and the car was driveable, a DWI charge may hold up in court.
If the vehicle was not driveable, perhaps because it was out of gas, the charges probably will not hold up in court. If the vehicle was only marginally driveable, perhaps because it had a falt tire or had been in a minor wreck, the same result may occur.
Not in a Public Place
This issue sometimes comes up in DWI-boating cases. Many lakes have both public and private property.
Additionally, lots of public streets are not public places. Shopping mall parking lots are not public places, even if they have street names and traffic control signals. Gated communities are in a grey area. If an entrance sign says “No Thru Traffic,” these places are generally private property.
Not Driving the Vehicle
No, this is not a misprint. The first point usually concerns people in non-moving vehicles. This point usually involves defendants who were in alcohol-related collisions.
Typically, by the time emergency responders arrive, the defendant has already exited the vehicle. As a result, it may be difficult to “wheel” the defendant. It’s even more difficult to do so if the defendant did not admit driving the car and there was more than one occupant in the vehicle.
This element is usually the heart of a DWI case. Prosecutors may use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish intoxication.
Chemical tests are not 100 percent accurate. These tests often involve procedural defenses as well, such as issues with a search warrant. Circumstantial evidence from the field sobriety tests is subjective and unreliable.
Prosecutors must file criminal charges in the county where the offense occurred. That may not be the same thing as where the stop occurred. Many times, officers see intoxicated motorists on the Tarrant County side of Interstate 20 and pull them over on the Parker County side.
A judge will probably not throw the case out of court over a jurisdictional defect. However, prosecutors must start over in the right county, and delay always benefits the defendant.
DWI defendants have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.