One of the beautiful things about our legal system is the evolution of the law on a case by case basis. This evolution happens every day that a new decision is handed down by a court on a particular issue. The results of this evolution is later used by attorneys to prosecute and defend cases based on the rulings.
This is what has happened in a recent case handed down by the Texas Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District. That case revolved around several issues, the most important being whether the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution is implicated with Texas’ law against DWI with child passenger. Depending on whether the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals takes on this case, this ruling will likely hold sway everywhere in Texas going forward.
What Happened in This Case
This case could have ended a lot worse than it did. The defendant in the case was involved in a major accident in 2014 with three of her children. When the police arrived on the scene of the accident they found the car had rolled over, and all three children were injured. According to the injuries and reports, none of the children were restrained in proper seats during the accident. The police also reported the woman driving had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.
Because of the accident, and the evidence of DWI collected by the police, the woman was indicted on three counts of intoxication assault (because of the three hurt children), and three counts of DWI with a child passenger. She plead guilty to the three counts of DWI with child passenger in a deal where the other charges were dropped.
The issue in front of this court was whether the state can charge someone with a different count for every child in a car. Or if DWI with child passenger is one offense, no matter how many children are in the car at the time of DWI. The state wanted a ruling that each child in car could be a separate offense, while the defense want two of the charges dismissed and the case to be treated as one offense.
Citing the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the court ruled that a person cannot be charged with more than one count of DWI with child based on the number of children present. This is important because the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the state from punishing someone multiple times for the same offense. Otherwise the state could just keep bringing charges anytime they like. The court ruled that in this case, and those similar to it in the future, that the DWI itself is the crime, while having children present is an enhancement.
This case is an example of how changes in DWI law can happen on a daily basis. That is why you need a defense team that stays on top of the latest changes in the law, and understands how to best apply it to your case. That is what you get with the Wilder DWI Defense Firm. Our team of DWI defense experts will help you understand what your legal options are, give you the latest application of the law to your case, and aggressively defend your charges. Contact us today.
(image courtesy of Lorenzo Cafaro)