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Public Figures, Special Privileges, and DWI Arrest

Posted by Doug Murphy | Jun 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

Public figures like elected officials, television and sports stars, and well-known business leaders are human beings. Public notoriety provides no immunity to a DWI charge. Although a few officers might look the other way when encountering a public figure suspected of a DWI, police are presumably nearly as likely, or depending on the officer and public-figure suspect, more likely, to arrest a public figure on a DWI as they are to arrest a private figure.

One recent story of the DWI arrest of a Texas small-town mayor provides a good example. The story reports the mayor's late-night DWI arrest, after the town's wine-tasting event and the mayor's emergence to drive home from a local restaurant. The mayor's DWI arrest might alone have been newsworthy enough for a good story in the local media. But the charge that the mayor had committed a felony third offense, punishable by several years in prison, surely increased the story's visibility.

Special Treatment or Special Peril?

The mayor's story illustrates both the perils and potential privileges of public officials, sports and entertainment stars, and other public figures arrested for a DWI. The peril involves the publicity. Relatively few DWI arrests make broadcast, print, and internet media. This one clearly did so only because the person arrested was a public official well known in the local area. People have the right to know how their public officials are conducting themselves. Media is typically the way they find out. Public figures thus naturally face media reports and public scrutiny, which can present significant challenges surrounding a DWI.

The mayor's story also illustrates potential privileges that some authorities may afford public officials and figures, although authorities are also likely to be well aware of the condemnation they may face when they do so. The mayor in this story was apparently out of town when prosecutors issued the warrant on the felony third DWI offense. The story reports that rather than entering the warrant for police execution, authorities treated it as a pocket warrant, allowing the mayor to voluntarily appear rather than face an unsettling and embarrassing surprise arrest.

That's not to say that authorities, in this case, did grant the mayor special privileges. Pocket warrants may be appropriate anytime that the police can trust that the defendant will voluntarily and promptly appear for arrest. But police could just as well have executed the warrant as they ordinarily do for routine DWI arrests of private figures. Who's to say whether police would afford that courtesy to the next ordinary DWI defendant?

Retain a Certified DWI Specialist's Representation

To manage the public scrutiny effectively, and to turn the criminal procedures to an effective DWI defense, public figures need expert DWI defense representation, just like private figures need strong representation. Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy has the premier standing and reputation in Houston and throughout Texas for representing high profile athletes and figures, and the national recognition for his preeminent skills, to effectively defend against and beat DWI charges. Retain 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy for your DWI defense, whether you are a public figure or private individual. Attorney Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today.

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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