There is always some speculation among lawyers and non-lawyers alike about what constitutes sufficient evidence to convict someone of DWI under Texas law. For example, it is widely speculated that in order to get convicted, a person must actually blow into a breathalyzer or have a blood sample taken showing an illegal level of alcohol in the bloodstream. But, as a recently issued court opinion in Texas shows, that is not the case at all.
In State v. Barrera Alaniz, the 13th District Court of Appeals addressed the issue of a mistrial granted to a defendant and sufficiency of the evidence involved. In that case, a man was pulled over early in the morning by the police. According to the police reports and court’s opinion, the police officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol while talking with the man.
It was at this point, as it is in so many cases, that the police began their DWI investigation. The man exited the car and went on to perform several field sobriety tests. He did the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, heel-to-toe walk, and the one leg test. In each of these tests the police officer noted several fails by the man, and as a result arrested him on suspicion of DWI.
At the Station and Trial
After being taken into custody by the police, the man refused to take a breath test. His reasoning was that because of some gum he was chewing, it would negatively affect the results. So, instead of getting a warrant for a blood or breath test, the police went forward on the evidence they collected to that point, and the case went to trial.
At trial the state put on an effective case against the man for DWI. The police officer testified, but so did the man’s wife. She alleged that on the night in question the man performed poorly on the tests because he had worked over 100 hours the week before and was tired. The defense then rested and the jury came back with a verdict of guilty for DWI.
Mistrial Granted Reversed
It was at this point in the trial that the defense made arguments to the judge that the case should have been overturned. Their primary argument was that because there was no chemical evidence of DWI, the evidence was not sufficient to convict. The judge agreed and issued a mistrial. He held that only putting up evidence of failed field sobriety tests was not enough to get a conviction of DWI, but the appeals court took a different tack.
Under the court’s opinion, evidence of failed field sobriety tests is enough to convict someone of DWI beyond a reasonable doubt. Under our system of justice the value of a verdict by a jury is high and should not be disturbed except in the most egregious of circumstances. So, in the end this man will be convicted of DWI.
Your DWI Defense Team
If you are facing charges of DWI, do not leave your fate to chance. You need and deserve an aggressive and talented team defending you. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we will ensure that you get the best defense available. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation)