A DWI can happen to anyone, even lawyers and judges. And sometimes, a DWI can happen even when you aren't even expecting it. A recent case from Montgomery County, Texas, is the perfect example. Police arrested Judge Mark Keough after a 7:30 am September 10, 2020, crash involving the judge and a deputy constable's patrol car.
According to court documents, the judge was behind the wheel of his SUV when he sideswiped another car and then rear-ended the patrol car. The accident sent both the deputy and the judge to the hospital. Judge Keough underwent surgery for a pelvic injury.
Judge Keogh later reported in a video that tests found Ambien in his blood at the time of the crash, a sleep aid legally prescribed by his physician. We originally shared this story in January of 2021, discussing Judge Keough's possible defenses. But late last month, Judge Keough pled guilty to driving while intoxicated. The court ordered his driver's license suspended for 90 days and imposed a $2,000 fine.
Prescription Medications Can Impair Driving
Under Texas law, someone may be driving while intoxicated if they are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two. Legally prescribed drugs can also lead to a DWI if a driver doesn't have the use of their normal physical and mental faculties.
Notably, one known side effect of the sleep aid Ambien (Zolpidem) is "sleep driving." People can take their medication at bedtime as prescribed, get up in the middle of the night or early morning and be unaware of raiding the kitchen for food or even getting in the car to drive. It's also possible for prescription sleep aids like Ambien to have some lingering effects over the next 24 hours. That means it's a good idea to be cautious about driving until you know and understand the side effects of any prescribed medications you take.
Public Officials Arrested for DWI
When a public official or noted member of the community like Judge Keough faces an arrest, it can become a very public matter. Normally, a standard DWI charge wouldn't be newsworthy, but some members of our community live in the spotlight. Judge Keough also served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2014 to 2019, likely increasing state-wide interest in his arrest.
While Judge Keough's status in Montgomery County allowed him to get out his story and remind others that someone arrested for DWI is innocent until proven guilty, that status can also be a burden. In Texas, we reelect trial judges every four years, which can undoubtedly affect DWI defense strategy. In a written statement, Montgomery County District Attorney Michael Holley commented, "As President Theodore Roosevelt stated, 'No man is above the law, and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.'" As a judge facing reelection in 2022, Judge Keough may have felt it necessary to resolve the matter quickly rather than face a protracted trial and news coverage as Judge Keough had a fine lawyer with a reputation of fighting and winning all types of cases.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense
Even if you aren't a judge or a high-profile community member, you need a skilled defense attorney if you're facing a DWI. Attorney Doug Murphy is the 2021 Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI defense and a Board Certified expert in both DWI defense and criminal defense. He can help you during this trying time. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 today to set up a consultation.
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