Texas drunk driving suspects still have rights

While charges of driving while intoxicated often make the news in Texas, DWI charges involving a celebrity often make front-page headlines. For that reason, Texas readers who are fans of country music may have heard that the country music singer plead guilty to drunk driving charges a few months ago and received a probationary sentence of two years.

Yet some criminal defense advocates are questioning whether local authorities have gone too far. Specifically, some members of the press recently requested a copy of the patrol car video from the singer’s DWI arrest. To the surprise of many, the attorney general’s office recently determined that the judge who presided over the singer’s DWI trial should not prevent the video’s release.

If the video becomes public, the singer may once again find himself in the news. According to Texas authorities, Travis was reportedly found naked by the wreck of his car. The singer has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety, in an apparent attempt to block the video’s release. His complaint also names the state attorney general’s office as a defendant.

Although police and prosecutors may have an interest in preserving evidence at a potential crime scene, it is hard to understand their motivations regarding this dash cam video. Since Travis has already been sentenced for his drunk driving offense, there state may be hard pressed its motivation for releasing the video to the press. To the extent there might be a financial interest at stake, many might find such income to unseemly at the least, if not potentially unlawful. Individuals who are stopped on suspicion of DWI still have drivers’ rights, and an experienced DWI criminal defense attorney might be able to remind prosecutors of this fact.

Source: Dallas News, “Travis sues to block DWI patrol car video release,” May 17, 2013

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