An Example of What Not to Do in Houston, TX to Avoid a DWI Arrest

Posted by Doug Murphy | Mar 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

There are many steps you can take to improve your chances of beating a driving while intoxicated charge. Refusing to make a statement to the police and declining to participate in field sobriety testing are possible methods to use to avoid incriminating yourself. Not all efforts to avoid a DWI arrest in Texas are in your best interest, however.

For example, on March 17, 2020, a New Jersey woman pulled over under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated lied about exposure to Coronavirus and purposefully coughed on police. According to the police, 28-year-old Lea Piazza was arrested by Hanover police under suspicion of drunken driving. The incident began when police responded to the location of a single-car accident. The responding officer reported smelling alcohol on the defendant. Eventually, she was arrested for DWI, careless driving, and reckless driving.

While officers attempted to process her at the jail, the woman repeatedly coughed on three members of law enforcement. After requesting that she stop, she allegedly claimed: “Oh, by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you.” Police immediately questioned her about the statement, where she claimed her boyfriend had been exposed to the virus while in a New York hospital.

A False Claim Unravels

Hanover Police took the claim seriously, immediately placing the three officers exposed to Piazza into quarantine. Over the course of the next six hours, police contacted hospitals and the man Piazza referred to as her boyfriend. The man claimed he was not Piazza's boyfriend and had been hospitalized for a tooth injury unrelated to the Coronavirus. Hospital records also confirmed his story. Eventually, Piazza admitted that the claim was false.

Further, the claims of infection by Piazza did not help her avoid a charge of DWI. However, she did receive additional charges for causing a false public alarm. The end result is that she faces additional criminal liability on top of the DWI charges.

False Coronvirus Claims in a Houston DWI Arrest

Although this arrest occurred in New Jersey, there is nothing preventing something similar from occurring in Houston. The outcome, however, is likely to be similar. Given the heightened concern regarding Coronavirus, law enforcement has taken false claims seriously. In fact, a Texas man has already faced arrest for an online Coronavirus hoax. According to police, a 23-year-old Texas man spread the claim that he had Coronavirus online, triggering a panic at the Woodville hospital where he claimed to have been infected.

Any attempt to avoid arrest or interfere with giving a breath sample after a DWI arrest in Texas is likely to result in similar charges. A person that makes a claim similar to the one Ms. Piazza made in New Jersey would likely lead to a charge of false alarm or report. This class A misdemeanor could lead to a year in jail, which is in addition to any penalties that come with a DWI conviction.

There are countless ways to prevail in a DWI case that do not involve committing criminal acts. One option is discussing your case with a Board Certified expert in DWI defense.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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