While most people in Texas are aware that law enforcement agencies all over the state aggressively enforce driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws, some people do not fully consider the other consequences of drunk driving. The truth remains that when people get behind the wheel after consuming too many alcoholic beverages, they can be at much greater risk of causing traffic accidents that can lead to other consequences.
There have been multiple recent stories that have demonstrated some of the possible penalties people can face when drinking and driving. In these kinds of cases, only being charged with a DWI would be seen as getting off easy because many alleged offenders instead face enhanced criminal charges that can result in even more severe penalties, and people should not hesitate to seek the help of an experienced Dallas DWI defense attorney in these cases.
Drunk Driving Stories in the News
KXAS-TV reported on May 15, 2023, that a man who was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter in a crash that killed a Dallas police officer in 2021 was sentenced to 30 years in prison. A Dallas County jury found the man guilty of crashing into Dallas Police Officer Mitchell Penton’s car and killing him.
After victim impact statements were read that Friday night, Judge Amber Givens said she would take the weekend to consider the man’s sentence and announced the following Monday morning that he would spend the next three decades behind bars. On February 13, 2021, Penton was standing near his patrol car directing traffic around a crash in the northbound lanes of the North Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane when the man’s Kia Forte slammed into the back of the officer’s cruiser.
The police car hit Penton and knocked him off his feet. He was taken to Baylor University Medical Center and was pronounced dead.
According to an affidavit obtained by KXAS in 2021, a woman riding with the man telling police she was drinking with him at the bar. The man told police he had “two tequila sunrises and maybe two shots of tequila” before the pair left for his home in South Dallas, but told police he did not think alcohol was a factor in the crash.
An affidavit said the woman told police that she did not know the man’s address and he insisted on driving. They stayed “for about an hour” before they left for her home in Irving.
A tow truck driver who saw the crash told police that the man “never put on his brakes.” The Dallas Morning News reported prosecutor Andrew James said the man had seven and a half drinks in 74 minutes and his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.139 at the time of one toxicology test.
At the time of his death, Penton was a husband and father of one child with another on the way. KDFW-TV reported that an arrest warrant affidavit showed the man tried to dump a bag of what appeared to be marijuana while he was being arrested.
When confronted, the man told the officer, “It’s just weed, man. It’s just weed.” The man continued dumping the substance on the ground before being handcuffed, searched, and put into the back of a police car.
The man was facing up to life in prison. With a 30-year sentence, the man will be eligible for parole in 15 years.
KRLD-AM reported on May 25, 2023, that a Dallas police officer was recovering after being involved in a crash early that morning with a man suspected of DWI. Dallas Police said the crash occurred at the intersection of Main and Hall streets in Deep Ellum shortly before 1 a.m.
Officer Brian Martinez said the officer was transported to a local hospital although his injuries were not deemed to be life-threatening. Police said the other car was being driven by a 39-year-old man who failed a field sobriety test and was then arrested on suspicion of DWI.
The Advocate also reported on May 8, 2023, that a Dallas police officer from the Northeast Patrol Division was arrested for suspicion of DWI on May 5. Senior Corporal Geoffrey Pettay was off duty and placed under arrest by the Wylie Police Department at about 4:25 a.m.
Pettay was placed on administrative leave during the investigation, according to Dallas police. He had served in the police department since 2002.
The Dallas Morning News reported that a Wylie officer saw Pettay’s vehicle speeding and smelled “the odor of an alcoholic beverage” once he stopped him. It was unclear whether Pettay had an attorney, and he did not appear in Collin County jail records that Friday afternoon.
KDFW also reported on February 23, 2023, that the widow of Euless Police Detective Alex Cervantes filed a lawsuit against not only a drunk driver who crashed into her husband, the bartender who allegedly over-served him, the taco shop where the drinks were sold, and General Motors. Cervantes was killed in November 2021 after a man ran a red light and drunkenly crashed his Jeep into the off-duty detective’s sedan in Lake Worth.
Cervantes’ wife and their two children were also inside the car and suffered injuries. Investigators said between 10:40 a.m. and 1:12 p.m., the man ordered and drank nearly eight double Vodka Red Bulls at the Fuzzy’s Taco on Azle Avenue.
In January, the man took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter. The man was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The bartender is also facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly overserving Molina. The lawsuit from Cervantes’ widow focused heavily on Fuzzy’s, alleging at the time of the crash that it had an “inadequate, defective and negligent alcohol server policy.”
The lawsuit also claims, “Richardson did not have a TABC server certificate, license or permit.” It alleges Fuzzy’s had Richardson “obtain a TABC server’s certificate three days later on November 30, 2021.”
Video from inside the restaurant showed the man behind the bar and stumbling at one point.
According to KDFW, another man was sentenced to life in prison following a conviction for his ninth DWI charge. The Weatherford man elected to have a Parker County jury give the punishment after pleading guilty to a felony DWI charge.
According to the Parker County District Attorney’s Office, the man had four previous prison sentences for DWI charges in Tarrant, Dallas, Rockwall, and Johnson counties. His latest DWI charge went back to August 15, 2022, when he was involved in a crash at the intersection of Farm to Market (FM) 51 and State Highway (SH) 171, just south of Weatherford.
Investigators found that the man’s vehicle drove through a red light and rear ended another vehicle. The man fled the scene by foot after reportedly telling the other driver involved that he had to leave because he would get in trouble.
The man was found about a half-hour after the wreck after jumping over a barbed wire fence that ripped his jeans and shirt. Authorities said the man also tried to headbutt an EMT who was trying to treat him.
The man’s blood BAC was 0.267, or more than three times the legal limit. The DA’s office said during his testimony during the punishment phase, the man told a juror he did not think that he had an alcohol problem, saying that he was just “very unlucky.”
The man will be eligible for parole when his actual time served, plus his good time credit, totals 15 years, but the ultimate decision on if or when he will be released will be up to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Possible Criminal Charges Associated with DWIs
Whereas a first DWI offense is customarily a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, the criminal offense can be classified as a Class A misdemeanor when a person has a BAC of 0.15 or more. A second DWI will also be a Class A misdemeanor, but a third or subsequent DWI is usually a felony offense, often being a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Additional DWI crimes people can be charged with in Texas include DWI with a Child Passenger, which is a state jail felony. A conviction for this charge can result in up to two years in state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Intoxication assault is a common charge when people are intoxicated and then cause serious bodily injury to another person. Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b) defines a serious bodily injury as meaning an injury creating a substantial risk of death or causing serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, and intoxication assault is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
A person commits intoxication manslaughter when they are intoxicated and by reason of their intoxication cause the death of another by accident or mistake. This crime is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggressive DWI Defense in Dallas, TX
If you are facing DWI charges or any accompanying criminal charges relating to a DWI arrest, you cannot underestimate the importance of retaining legal counsel. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has handled scores of DWI cases all over Texas and knows how to fight these kinds of criminal charges to help people achieve the most favorable outcomes to their criminal cases.
Prosecutors will often be adamant about making sure receive maximum penalties for any drunk driving offense, so a person is going to want to make sure that they have somebody on their side who will help them defend themselves in court. You can contact our firm by calling (972) 233-5700 or contacting us online for a free consultation