Harris County – DWI Capital of Texas
In 2009, Harris County distinguished itself by having the highest rate of alcohol-fueled car accidents in the country. As of 2013, the population of Harris County was 4.3 million. Harris County law enforcement agencies are determined that the county lose this crown in short order. As a result, our DWI lawyers in Harris County have been in high demand.
Harris County DWI Local Factors
Harris County’s high DWI fatality rate may have been partially attributable to the limited public transportation options for the area’s 3.9 million residents coupled with urban sprawl. If people want to socialize with friends and family on the other side of town, they have to drive there and back.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, speeding, alcohol and drug use account for the most serious accidents, with distracted drivers also making a significant contribution. In 2010-2011, out of 421 DWI fatalities, 67 were in the Greater Third Ward. Of these, at least 20 were within 15 minutes’ drive of Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. Could beer and baseball be a factor in these fatalities? In 2009, a 72-year-old Pasadena man who worked at the stadium was sentenced to 15 years in prison for causing the death of a road worker while driving drunk within minutes of leaving a baseball game in 2008.
Measures Implemented to Reverse Claimed Statistics
On-demand blood tests – This measure was implemented in July 2013 by the Harris County District Attorney‘s office. It usually applies in cases where the accused refuses to take a breath test or blood test. If a person arrested for DWI refuses a chemical test, the police agency may get a search warrant to draw the persons blood even against his will. It is important to remember that a person DOES have a right to refuse a breath test or blood test. If you wish to refuse, simply tell the police officer, I dont agree to take this test. You can make the police get a search warrant, which can sometimes mean that your alcohol level will drop by the time the warrant is carried out. (Same is true with field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg, walking a straight line or following a pen with your eyes. If you wish to refuse, simply tell the officer, I dont agree to take this test. A police officer cannot get a warrant to force you to take a field sobriety test.)
New Sober Courts for repeat offenders – These have been going on since approximately 2008, with the aim of identifying the underlying causes why people drink and re-offend. Proponents claim that people who go through the program are 65 percent less likely to re-offend than those who go to prison or probation.
Surprise urine tests – Assigning probationers’ routine urine tests on the same day each week allows them to binge drink the rest of the week and clean up by Monday. Among the tricks they use are not turning up or phoning in sick. Judges have started demanding surprise urine tests. If failed, the offender may have his bond revoked or probation revoked. These are usually better at catching drug use (including marijuana and cocaine) as opposed to alcohol use, because alcohol tends to clear from a persons system in less than 24 hours.
DWI Defense Strategies
Challenging chemical tests
If you fail the breath test, your Harris County DWI lawyer should ask to see maintenance and calibration records of the apparatus that was used. The results of these tests are frequently inaccurate, and having this information may help to get your result excluded from evidence or successfully neutralized in a trial, provided the lawyer is properly trained in the science behind breath testing and blood testing. (In particular, the science of DWI blood testing is very complex and it is often necessary to retain a defense attorney who is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, as well as one who focuses on DWI defense and has a successful trial record in blood test cases.)
Your DWI lawyer in Harris County should aggressively challenge blood test results whenever possible. There are rigorous procedures in place for administering the blood test and preserving the blood sample. An experienced Harris County DWI attorney may try to identify any flaws in the test process, from the time of the blood draw through the final lab estimate.
Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
Police use one of three NHTSA-approved field sobriety tests when they suspect people of drunk driving. These are:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
Your criminal defense attorney in Harris County may successfully discredit results of field sobriety tests. Results of field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate. Conditions such as sloped surfaces, noise from nearby traffic and visual distractions can all contribute to poor performance. Additionally, some people suffer from injuries, illnesses or are a natural clumsiness that makes it difficult to perfectly complete the tests. Finally, if your lawyer knows exactly what to look for on an arrest video, he might spot critical errors in how the police officer administered the tests.
Challenging prosecution witnesses
Your savvy DWI lawyer in Harris County knows that state witnesses often have biases or motives to testify in favor of the prosecution. Some state witnesses even have their own criminal records and your attorney can exploit these records to your advantage in court.
These are numerous potential defenses in DWI cases. The specific approach in your case is something you will want to discuss with your Harris County attorney as soon as the lawyer has the prosecutions evidence. Whenever possible, your goal should be to avoid a conviction and to keep your driving privileges intact.