In late August, a 44-year-old Texan successfully appealed a conviction for which he was serving a life sentence. According to reports, the 2013 conviction arose as a result of a 2012 incident in which the man refused a Breathalyzer test after being detained by police on suspicion of drunk driving. The police subsequently obtained a blood sample without a warrant and used this as evidence against the motorist.
Even though the man pleaded guilty in the original case after a district judge refused to disregard the blood sample, a concurrent case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court determined that such blood drawing procedures constituted unreasonable searches and seizures if they were performed without a warrant. Although a Texas Transportation Code rule stated that motorists suspected of multiple DWIs implicitly consented to breath and blood testing, the Twelfth Court of Appeals agreed with the man's motion that such a statute was in violation of the Constitution.
According to reports from the State Attorney's Office, around 12 cases throughout the state were in the process of being overturned for similar reasons. Although the 44-year-old's case has been reversed, the outcome still remained uncertain at the time of reporting as the matter had been turned back over to the trial court in which it was first heard.
DWI charges can lead to significant penalties for the convicted, and these may compromise one's ability to deal with typical responsibilities such as caring for a family. Even after accused motorists are sent to jail, however, some still retain legal options based on the specific circumstances of their cases. Those who are convicted may find it helpful to learn more about the appeals process or plea bargains and work programs that might reduce their sentences.
Source: KYTX, "Whitehouse man's DWI conviction overturned on technicality", Field Sutton, September 02, 2014