One of the unexpected side effects of the COVID-19 lockdown in Houston was a sudden, steep drop in the number of arrests for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Harris County. Now that sectors of the economy are re-opening, the rate of DWI arrests in Houston appears to be playing catch up.
The drop in DWI arrests during the COVID-19 lockdown was stark compared to 2019 figures. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the number of arrests for DWI in Houston was slightly higher than the year before. This was true up until the week of March 6, 2020. Although bars and restaurants did not close for another two weeks, it appears social distancing measures may have led to a slight decrease in the number of arrests. The arrest rate fell dramatically in the week of March 17, 2020. The weeks following the closure of bars and restaurants throughout the city saw a steady drop that eventually resulted in approximately 50 percent fewer DWI arrests from one week to another. This remained the case for several weeks until the figures began creeping up again.
According to figures provided by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the rate of DWI arrests has increased dramatically since restaurants and bars have reopened. In fact, the number of DWI arrests the week of May 8 – the week that restaurants reopened – outpaced the number of arrests one year prior. The number of arrests spiked again the week of May 22 after bars were allowed to reopen, but they still lagged behind 2019 figures.
It is possible the arrest rate will eventually surpass 2019 numbers, although that remains to be seen. One factor to consider is that restaurants and bars are still operating at limited capacity. The number of arrests could spike once business gets back to normal.
Remember: A Texas DWI Arrest is not a Conviction
While arrests might have increased since the economy has reopened, it is important to remember that not every one of these arrests will result in a criminal conviction. After all, DWI cases are defensible. While the pandemic might have upended life in a number of ways, you retain your constitutional rights following an arrest.
It is understandable if you are concerned about your ability to defend yourself during these challenging times, but you should never assume it is not worth fighting back. With the right attorney, a favorable outcome in your Houston DWI case is possible. However, not every attorney will be right for your case. Some of the things to look for in your legal counsel include:
- Experience. Doug Murphy has over 20 years of experience in trying DWI cases. He has amassed a national reputation on one o fate best DWI lawyers in the nation.
- A reputation for aggressive litigation. Taking your case to trial is the best chance you have to avoid a conviction in many cases.
- Expertise. Texas attorneys can only hold themselves out as experts in their area of practice by becoming board certified. Seek out an attorney board-certified in both DWI and criminal defense law.
- Understanding the science. Defending DWI cases is highly scientific. You need an attorney that understands the science.
With the right Houston DWI defense attorney advocating for you, the chances of an acquittal increase dramatically.