The fact that you've been charged with a DWI can stay with you for the rest of your life. The record will show up anytime someone runs a criminal background check or takes an in-depth look into your past. In today's technology-driven world, a simple internet search can yield a lot of information about your prior run-ins with the law.
Back in 1998, Beto O'Rourke -- current candidate for the United States Senate - was arrested for DWI in Anthony, TX. Thanks to a diversion program, O'Rourke was never technically convicted of the offense. However, the fact that he was arrested for DWI when he was 26 has been a central issue in his fight for the Senate seat against incumbent Ted Cruz.
Why Was Beto O'Rourke Arrested for DWI?
According to the police report, O'Rourke was speeding, lost control of his vehicle, and struck a truck in a nearby lane. This caused his car to cross the center median and come to rest in front of oncoming traffic. O'Rourke then allegedly got out of his vehicle and began to walk away from the scene before he was stopped by a reporter. O'Rourke contests this allegation.
Police responded to the DWI accident and promptly administered two breathalyzers. O'Rourke registered a BAC of .134 percent on the first and a BAC of .136 on the second. He was then arrested and charged with a first-time DWI offense.
Why Wasn't Beto O'Rourke Convicted of DWI?
On September 21, 2018, during a debate with Senator Ted Cruz, Beto O'Rourke admitted to driving drunk 20 years ago. He described the DWI as “a terrible mistake” and offered that “there is no excuse or justification or defense” for such a crime. Simply put, he took full responsibility for his DWI and didn't try to shy away from the issue.
If O'Rourke was so quick to admit guilt, then why wasn't he actually convicted of DWI back in 1998? He successfully qualified for and completed a Pretrial Diversion Program. As a result, the DWI charges against him were ultimately dismissed.
The Texas Pretrial Diversion Program is available for some first-time DWI offenders. It's typically reserved for defendants who can convince the court that this is a one-time mistake and that they are unlikely to offend again. A defendant who is granted entry into a diversion program must satisfy all court-ordered requirements. Requirements can include drug and/or alcohol counseling, community service, random drug testing, and driving with an ignition interlock device. The court can customize the plan to meet the specific needs of each defendant.
Successful completion of the program will help defendants avoid a criminal DWI conviction. However, arrests and criminal charges will still remain on a criminal record. Plus, you must follow the program strictly or else risk a guilty conviction. For some, the risks and outcome may be ok. But for others, fighting the charge makes more sense -- it increases the odds of the case being dismissed or you being acquitted at trial. And when the latter happens, you can most often request expunction of the arrest and charge.
Contest DWI Charges to Safeguard Your Future
You never know what lies ahead of you in life. If you're arrested for DWI in Houston, it's very important to defend yourself every step of the way. If you don't, a DWI from your past could become problematic down the line. At the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., our Houston DWI defense lawyers can help you fight criminal charges. Call us today to schedule a free case assessment and learn more.