Many suspects accused of DWI may think that they do not have a chance at winning their case. This belief can stem from a number of different factors. For example, there is strong public sentiment against drinking and driving, and while suspects should enjoy a presumption of innocence, few feel like that is the actuality of a criminal prosecution.
Despite these feeling and factors that can be involved in a DWI prosecution, a recent case out of a Texas court of appeals should be instructive and offer hope to those accused of DWI. The First District Court of Appeals out of Houston recently overturned a Class A misdemeanor DWI conviction because the evidence presented at trial by the prosecution was insufficient to support a conviction.
This is a surprising result because overturning a jury’s verdict in a criminal case is next to impossible. The standard for doing so requires the judges reviewing the case to find that no reasonable jury could have convicted the suspect on the charges made. That is what happened in this case and should be a lesson for those facing DWI charges.
Facts of This Case
This case began in 2015 when the police answered a call about a wrecked vehicle on the road. When they got there, the police found a car upside down with no passengers and no driver. They looked for the driver and found him close to the site reportedly smelling of alcohol and slurring his speech. The man refused to take any field sobriety tests, complaining of the cold.
Given the scene of the accident and what the police perceived, they arrested the man on suspicion of DWI. He was taken to a location where he was administered field sobriety tests, and took a pair of breathalyzer tests. According to the police, the man failed in several different ways, and both breathalyzers brought back results of a BAC above .15.
Considering those facts, barring any misconduct during the investigation, it should not have been difficult for the prosecution to bring and convict the driver on a Class B misdemeanor charge for DWI. But the prosecution instead chose to bring charges for a Class A misdemeanor. That requires them to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver had a BAC of .15 at the time it was analyzed. In contrast, a Class B misdemeanor DWI charge simply requires them to prove a person was impaired by alcohol while driving, or had a BAC of .08.
The prosecution in this case could not prove that the man had a BAC over .17 at trial because there were too many factors that went into that analysis. Despite that, they still charged the jury with finding the man guilty of a Class A DWI charge, which they did. The court of appeals overturned this result because the charging documents given to the jury overreached and asked the jury to make a finding that was not supported by the evidence presented at trial. The net result was that the conviction was overturned and now it has to go back to trial on a Class B misdemeanor charge.
Defending Your Rights
This case is an example of what can happen when a person accused of DWI has an excellent DWI defense. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we will aggressively defend your DWI charges and provide your case the experience and expertise it deserves. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.