Maybe television pitchman Timothy Williams should have booked a room instead of driving on the freeway in his hometown.
Williams, who got his acting start as a troubled teenager on an unaired Cosby Show episode, is one of the most recognized TV personalities in America. According to Houston Police Department officers, Williams was “passed out with his foot on the brake in a moving lane of traffic.” After failing field sobriety tests, Williams consented to a blood draw. Those results were not available. He was charged with misdemeanor DWI and released on a $100 bond.
At a recent court appearance, Williams’ DWI attorney postponed the case indefinitely.
Unconscious Driver DWI Cases
Rather incredibly, “driving” is not an element of “Driving While Intoxicated” in Texas. Prosecutors must simply prove that the defendant controlled the motor vehicle.
These cases, like the one described above, are more common than you think. But generally, the car is not in traffic. Typically, the defendant is parked on the street and napping behind the wheel.
Even if the defendant is completely unconscious, if the defendant had the keys and the vehicle was driveable (e.g. had gas), most Tarrant County judges will rule that the defendant controlled the vehicle. If the defendant did not have the keys or the car was not driveable, the result may be different.
The result is always different if the vehicle was on a driveway or other private property. It’s only illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated on public property.
On a related note, Texas law also broadly defines “motor vehicle.” In many jurisdictions, a motor vehicle is a powered vehicle, like a motorcycle, car, or boat. But in the Lone Star State, anything that moves is usually a motor vehicle. That includes things like horses and skateboards.
These cases are rare, but aggressive Tarrant County prosecutors do file them from time to time. These matters have the same direct and indirect consequences as a standard DWI.
DWI Procedure in Tarrant County
Long delays are very common in criminal cases. In most cases, delay benefits the defendant. Over time, evidence is lost, memories fade, and witnesses move away. Five or six months can make a big difference.
Eventually, an attorney must resolve a DWI or other criminal case. That means either a plea or a trial. Agreed plea bargains resolve over 90 percent of Texas criminal cases. These plea bargains often feature reduced charges. For example, some prosecutors may reduce DWI charges to reckless driving.
At trial, prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Statistically, the DWI blood test conviction rate is close to 100 percent.
Even if your hands were not on the wheel, you can be charged with, and convicted of, DWI. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.