Earlier this month, a woman's call to 911 after a hit-and-run crash led to a high-risk traffic stop. After the woman called emergency operators, a second person called 911 and told operators he would shoot the original caller if police approached his car. When police located him just south of Medical City Denton on South Mayhill Road, they reported a strong smell of alcohol coming from the car, although the driver claimed he hadn't been drinking. During the DWI investigation, police found numerous open containers of alcohol in the car and a firearm.
Police arrested the man for DWI, an accident involving damage to a vehicle greater than or equal to $200, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. After discovering the man had a 2019 conviction for DWI, police enhanced the charge to DWI second offense. If you end up in a situation where the police suspect you of DWI and another crime, it's important to understand what will happen and how you can defuse the situation.
DWI and Open Containers
A first DWI offense in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor with possible penalties of 72 hours to 180 days in jail, a license suspension, and a $2,000 fine. However, driving with an open container of alcohol is a separate offense. An "open container" means "a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed." Tex. Penal Code § 49.031(a)(1) (2001).
Driving with an open container is a Class C misdemeanor, and the police will usually simply write a citation for it unless it accompanies a DWI arrest. Passengers can also be cited for the offense, even if they aren't driving at any point.
DWI and Additional Charges
If a suspected DWI driver acts inappropriately, violently, or makes threats to the police or bystanders, it's common for the police to treat it as a high-risk traffic stop. A high-risk stop is a dangerous situation for the police and the driver under suspicion. The police will often have additional units there as back-up and will issue instructions to the driver to maintain control over every moment of the stop, particularly when ordering the driver to exit the vehicle. They may even stop traffic to ensure the safety of bystanders on a busy street.
If you find yourself in a high-risk stop or suspected of violence or additional crimes in addition to DWI, it's important to remain calm. If the situation is simply a misunderstanding, remaining calm and cooperating with the police can ensure you don't face additional charges for resisting the police or getting physical. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty, and an arrest is only the beginning of the process. With an experienced DWI attorney, you can fight the charges or negotiate them down.
Hire a DWI Expert
While the Denton case reported above is an extreme example of what can happen when police believe violence or additional crimes accompany a DWI stop, such a case is never simple. If you're facing this situation, you need a specialist who can handle complicated DWI and criminal cases. Attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas attorneys Board Certified in DWI defense and criminal law. Doug is Board Certified in DUI Defense by the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Moreover, Doug has extensive experience in complicated DWI and criminal cases. Best Lawyers in America named Doug the "Lawyer of the Year" for 2021 for DWI defense, and the Houston press called him "the drinking driver's best friend." Call Doug Murphy at 713-229-8333 today to set up a consultation.