Thursday, March 16, 2006

felony dwi trials

It is amazing to me how there are special constitutional exceptions when it comes to DWI just like there were special constitutional exceptions to allow for slavery due to the politics of its time. For murder or any other crime virtually, a jury would not hear about one's prior criminal history so that a citizen could get a fair trial yet DWI has been made an exception. It is just another political use of injustice just like the fact that you can get deferred adjudication for rape or murder, even early release from probation for these violent crimes yet you can't get it for DWI. The typical face of a DWI is a middle aged guy pulled over for speeding after averaging 4 drinks over 3 or 4 hours (which does not put him over .08, one drink for a 175 lb man is approx. .02 and he metabolizes 2/3rds of it in an hour) and he just can't hold his foot up perfectly for 30 seconds (a one second sway and lifting his arms up one second causes him to lose his balance) and out of 18 steps on the walk and turn he steps out of position during the 30 second demo (which the cops don't have to do and is the most difficult part of the test) and he goes to jail and gets convicted (the HGN or eye test done by cops is of minimal value, caffeine and aspirin can cause your eyes to jerk). This is why for every 100 people arrested only 1 has caused an alcohol fatality (NHTSA statistics, 1.4 million DWI arrests a year for 17k fatalities). The public thinks the felony DWI offender is the one out there who every time he turns the key may cause a death when in reality a large portion of those who go down on felonies are those above described circumstances: normal people after averaging less than a beer an hour who can't afford a lawyer or get one who is willing to fight (odds of losing a felony trial in Tarrant county are 96%) and they can't risk a loss where it means 10 years in the state penitentiary yet child abusers and robbers are getting off with less. I am not blaming lawyers, most realize that no matter how sober their clients look on a felony DWI most jurors can't see past the two prior DWI convictions (although they know nothing of those circumstances) and understand that the judge being elected and feeling the pressure from the electorate (more responsive to MADD soundbites than facts) may send a guy or girl who hasn't hurt anyone nor had the potential to prison. Sure there are irresponsible alcoholics and those who are not even alcoholics who commit dastardly deeds by the mere act of getting behind the wheel when they are in no condition to but these few virtually never go to trial and I agree they should be given a serious consesquences. Our justice system should stop meting out the one size fits all punishments where both judges and prosecutors alike refuse to look at the individual facts and people but mete out "office policies" on DWIs. Justice has on a systematic level within the courts across America where plea bargains are negotiated have left fairness out of the equation. It is my job as a criminal defense attorney when I took my oath to carry out the laws and do the best I can for my state and country to ensure justice to do something about this. In my little world, all I can say is that I'm trying.... I have always believed people are good. The people just don't know...

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