Any Houston DWI defense attorney will tell you not to talk to the police if you are under suspicion of drunk driving. Nothing you say will get you out of trouble. To the contrary, any statement you made may only prolong what would otherwise be a routine traffic stop. And even a seemingly innocent question–like an officer asking where you are going–may end up providing a critical piece of evidence against you.
Another equally important thing to keep in mind is not to talk about a potential DWI case–or any criminal charge–with anyone else except for your attorney. Above all else, never discuss your case on social media. This can be hard for many people who are used to sharing every aspect of their day with their friends and online acquaintances. But no good will come of it, and prosecutors are savvy enough to use anything you might post against you at trial.
Texas Man Sentenced to 15 Years After Accidentally Killing Pedestrian
A recent Texas case, Simmons v. State, offers a sad cautionary tale. This case involves the tragic death of a pedestrian killed when she was hit by a truck. Prosecutors charged the driver of the truck–the defendant–with intoxication manslaughter.
According to the evidence introduced at trial, a man (the witness) was driving home from work when he came across a truck lying in a ditch. The truck’s wheels were still spinning. The witness said he pulled over to render assistance. That was when he saw the defendant pacing nearby, yelling, “I f-cked up. I killed someone. My life is over.” The witness later testified he smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath.
The witness searched around and found a woman–the victim–lying face down in the street. The witness testified the victim had no pulse. He then called 911.
A police accident investigator testified that the victim had been walking in the same direction and on the same road as the defendant. The defendant apparently veered right onto the shoulder of the road and struck the victim. At the accident scene, the defendant told the police that the victim had been walking on the road and that he unsuccessfully tried to avoid a collision. The defendant also admitted that he had been drinking about two hours before the accident.
While detained in the back of a police car about 30 minutes after the witness first arrived at the scene, the defendant posted to his Facebook page, “Some lady just stepped in front of my truck as I was driving and I flipped my truck and killed her[.] I love you guys but I’m probably going to prison[.]” In response to questions on the post, the defendant emphasized, “She is dead as f–k.”
Emergency medical personnel then took the defendant to a nearby hospital. He consented to a blood draw. Subsequent testing revealed the defendant’s blood-alcohol content was 0.094 percent, which was over the legal limit.
Prosecutors subsequently charged the defendant with intoxication manslaughter. A jury found the defendant guilty. The court sentenced the defendant to 15 years in prison.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him.. Specifically, he argued the state failed to prove he was intoxicated when the accident occurred. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument, however, for several reasons.
First, the appellate court cited the defendant’s own admission to the police that he consumed “multiple beverages” in the hours prior to the accident. Second, the blood draw–which the defendant consented to–showed he had a BAC of more than 0.08 percent an hour after the accident. Finally, the state produced an expert witness who testified as to the physiological effects of drinking on a driver’s “reaction time, perception, and visual acuity.” For these reasons, the Court of Appeals upheld the defendant’s conviction and sentence.
Contact Houston DWI Attorney Tad Nelson Today
Unlike a regular first-time DWI charge, which is a misdemeanor offense in most cases, intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code. This means that a conviction carries a state prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years. So even the 15-year sentence that the defendant received in the case above was not as harsh as it could have been.
While keeping your mouth shut is not a guarantee of acquittal, opening it is a good way to help ensure a conviction. That is why you should always remember–and assert–your right to remain silent when questioned by the police on suspicion of DWI or any alcohol-related offense. Also remember you have the right to speak with a qualified Houston DWI defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.