Monthly Archives - December 2013

Pickup Hits Motorist And Houston Police Officer, Driver Accused Of DWI

On Saturday, October 5, a Houston police officer and a motorist were slightly injured after they were struck by an allegedly intoxicated driver.

KHOU Houston reports that the motorist got a flat tire along Tidwell Street near Wayside Road around 4 a.m. The officer stopped to assist and turned on his lights to alert other drivers that the two vehicles were there on the side of the road.

Shortly after the officer pulled over, a pickup truck rear-ended the squad car, which in turn sent the squad car into the vehicle with the flat tire. All three vehicles involved sustained minor damage, it seems.

The officer and the driver of the car with the flat tire were both taken to nearby hospitals to be treated for minor injuries. The driver of the pickup was not injured, but he was arrested on suspicion of DWI.

Stories like this illustrate why law enforcement agencies take DWI so seriously. The situation grows more dire when it’s a second or third offense, rather than a first, with the potential punishment growing more severe with every previous conviction.

If you are ever accused of driving while intoxicated, especially if it is not for the first time, it is absolutely vital that you take proactive steps to arrange for a vigorous defense. If you do not take charge of your situation, perhaps with the assistance of an experience Houston criminal defense counselor, you are very much at risk for losing the best opportunity you have to make your case.

16-Year-Old Accused Of Killing 4, Injuring 9 In Drunk Driving Accident

A 16-year-old Texas boy has been charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter after he was involved in a car accident back in June that left four people dead and nine others injured.

At a hearing this month, he was allowed to stay with his parents, rather than in a juvenile facility, until his trial begins. He must wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, however.

According to KHOU Houston, the boy was driving through Tarrant County when he struck a church vehicle that had stopped to help a woman who had gotten a flat tire. The resulting collision killed a youth pastor, a mother and daughter who attended the pastor’s church and the 24-year-old woman who had gotten the flat tire. Nine other people who were also on the scene were badly hurt.

Authorities say the boy was driving between 68 and 70 mph in a 40 mph zone and had a BAC of 0.24 at the time of the accident. In Texas, the legal limit is 0.08.

If the boy is convicted on all counts, he could spend as many as 20 years in prison.

In a situation like this, the objective of the boy’s defense team is likely not to prove him innocent (presuming he did, of course, cause the deadly collision, and we do not yet know that he did). Rather, the defense counsel’s job will likely entail carefully reviewing the facts and circumstances of this incident, making sure the charges fit what actually happened, and then working to ensure a just and fair sentence (again, assuming that one is merited). This way, the defense counsel will be carrying out our justice system’s belief that everyone deserves a zealous advocate and the full and fair benefit of one’s day in court.

If you are ever accused of drunk driving, you may want to speak with an attorney to ensure that your rights are respected. You are free to contact us at any time.

Questions Raised by Alice Walton’s Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Case

Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress estimated to be worth about 27 billion dollars, was arrested for driving while intoxicated back in 2011.  In September of this year, she made the news again when it turns out the DWI charge won’t be formally filed.

She was arrested for a DWI in Texas on her 62nd birthday after being pulled over for speeding, allegedly going 71 mph in a construction zone with a speed limit of 55 mph.  She was determined to be intoxicated after a field sobriety test, but she refused to take a breath test.  She wound up getting booked, and was released on $1000 bail.  In the two years that followed, what delayed her prosecution? Why have the charges now been dropped?

Here are some things to consider about her case.

Unsurprisingly, many people are suspicious that she never had formal charges filed against her by prosecutors because of her status and wealth.  Without a doubt, she had a strong legal defense team working for her and negotiating with prosecutors behind the scenes.  Obtaining the best legal representation is important for anyone, regardless of how wealthy or well-known they are.

The case shows that it can take time to formally file charges for a DWI arrest; there’s a two-year window in which to do so, where the police officers need to fully investigate the case and present their evidence to prosecutors, and prosecutors need to do their own review and investigative work to determine what charges to formally file.  Your defense attorney would be on the lookout for improper evidence gathering and whether charges are being filed with insufficient evidence.

The reason prosecutors gave for dropping the charges was the absence of the key witness: the state trooper who pulled over Walton.  He’s currently on paid leave, suspended since February for misconduct allegedly uncovered during an internal investigation.  He would’ve needed to provide testimony about the field sobriety test, which was the basis for Walton’s arrest.  Because there was no blood or breath test administered, there was no way of knowing what her blood-alcohol content actually was that night; the case would have strongly depended on witness testimony.  One would also have to raise questions about how the field sobriety test was conducted by the trooper and what it actually revealed about Walton’s driving.

When an individual suspected of DWI refuses to take a breath test or agree to a blood sample, law enforcement may try to obtain a warrant in order to collect a blood sample.  Why wasn’t a warrant obtained in this case? It may be because the DWI in this case wasn’t a felony offense involving damage to property, injury, or death.  Police will also run a background check to look for previous DWIs, and in Walton’s case nothing turned up, even though in 1998 in Arkansas she was indeed convicted of a DWI.

The extent to which Walton’s wealth and connections played a role in this recent case isn’t known for sure, and wouldn’t be relevant to the vast majority of people who are pulled over for a DWI.  However, what it does show is the uniqueness and complexity of each DWI case; other cases also crumble due to lack of witness testimony or other evidence, or the ways in which they’re investigated.  No matter what circumstances surround your DWI case, you’ll always need the help of a good lawyer to obtain the best possible outcome for you.