A Houston police officer is facing criminal charges for DWI after allegedly causing a multi-car accident. According to reports, the Bobby Lee Jennings, 50, sideswiped two vehicles on Houston Ave and crashed into the back of another. Police arrived on the scene and determined that Jennings appeared to be intoxicated. A special investigator was called to handle the DWI assessment. Jennings, who was on call at the time of the accident, was taken into custody and later charged with driving while intoxicated. The officer will remain on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted.
Accidents Lead to Suspicion of DWI
Only a fraction of the traffic accidents in Houston involves a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, if you're involved in an accident, one of the first things police will try to determine is if you or any other drivers seem to be intoxicated. Officers will ask questions that are designed to identify impairment. These questions may include:
- Where are you headed?
- Where are you coming from?
- What were you doing before you got behind the wheel?
- Have you been drinking?
Officers will not only consider the answers to your questions but also your behavior. They may become suspicious if you appear to be unnecessarily nervous or have difficulty answering the questions and communicating.
These preliminary steps are intended to lay a foundation and establish probable cause. Probable cause only exists when officers have a sufficient belief, based on the facts and circumstances of the situation, that you have broken the law. Police will want to establish probable cause before they search your vehicle, perform a breath test or blood test, or make a DWI arrest.
Consequences of a First DWI in Houston
Results of a preliminary investigation determined that the four-car accident happened because Officer Jennings was intoxicated. The fact that Jennings is a police officer does not insulate him from the consequences of his actions. The state will move forward with its criminal DWI case against him. He will also probably face the very real possibility of losing his job.
Had the accident caused significant property damage, injury, or death, Jennings could have been charged with more than just a misdemeanor DWI. However, since this is his first DWI and there were no aggravating factors, Jennings will likely be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor. In Texas, a Class B Misdemeanor carries penalties of between 3 and 180 days in jail, $2,000 in fines, and the suspension of driving privileges for up to 2 years.
Anyone charged with DWI in Texas has the right to defend themselves. It's important to work with an experienced DWI defense lawyer. The stronger your defense, the better the chances of securing the very best result in your case. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with our Houston DWI defense lawyers. We'll review your case and help you understand your rights.