Why You Should Never Admit to Drinking Following a Single-Car Accident

A DWI accident will draw the attention of law enforcement, even if the crash only involved a single vehicle and nobody was seriously injured. If you are the driver under suspicion, the most important thing to remember is to never volunteer any information that even suggests you were drinking. Any comment you make can and will be used against you in court. Indeed, your own confession is often enough to secure your conviction.

Denton Man Receives 65-Year Prison Sentence After Third DWI Conviction

A recent case from Fort Worth, Robbins v. State, is instructive. In this case, a police officer responded to a report of a single-car accident near I-35. The person who called 911 told the dispatcher they saw the driver of the crashed vehicle “walking northbound on the highway’s frontage road.” The caller also provided a general description of the driver.

The officer arrived at the scene and identified a man–the defendant–meeting the 911 caller’s description. The officer later testified that he saw no other people around at the accident scene aside from first responders. The defendant then voluntarily told the officer that he had been driving the crashed vehicle.

Initially, the defendant said nothing about drinking. But after taking and failing a field sobriety test, the defendant then “admitted drinking an alcoholic beverage earlier in the evening.” The police officer then placed the defendant under arrest.

Because the defendant had two prior DWI convictions, a grand jury indicted him on a felony DWI charge. A trial jury later found him guilty. As a result, the defendant received a 65-year prison sentence.

On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him. Specifically, he argued the prosecution failed to present corroborating evidence to support his confession to the officer that he had been driving the crashed vehicle after drinking. The Texas Second District Court of Appeals rejected this argument and affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence.

The crux of the defendant’s argument was a legal principle known as the corpus delicti rule. As the Second District explained, this rule “requires corroboration of a confession with some evidence of a harm brought about by some person’s criminal conduct.” Basically, if someone confesses to a crime, there must be some independent evidence proving that the crime “actually occurred.”

In this case, the Second District said there was an “abundance of evidence” corroborating the defendant’s statements to the police officer. As noted above, the defendant was the only non-first-responder seen in the vicinity of the accident. The defendant matched the description given by the 911 caller who reported the accident. And there was ample evidence of the defendant’s intoxication, including the field sobriety tests and a later blood-alcohol test that indicated the plaintiff was intoxicated more than three times the legal limit.

Contact Houston DWI Lawyer Tad Nelson Today

When questioned by the police following an accident, say as little as possible. Admitting to drinking and driving at the scene will not help you later in court. And if you are arrested and charged with a crime, contact the DWI accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today.