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Defendant pleads no contest in Texas DWI case

The death of a 24-year-old motorcyclist in 2009 resulted in intoxicated manslaughter charges against the 27-year-old law student whose vehicle ran over her. The case against the now-graduated law student ended Jan. 25 with his no contest plea to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. Sentencing is slated for February.

Evidence showed that both the motorcyclist and the 27-year-old were intoxicated. The driver had a blood alcohol content level of 0.13, according to a blood test performed after his arrest. The prosecutor handling the case told the judge that it would have been difficult proving intoxicated manslaughter because police officers at the scene were not convinced of the link between the man's intoxication and the accident. The defense attorney was prepared to argue that the motorcyclist might have been able to control her motorcycle had she not been intoxicated.

The reduction in charge to a misdemeanor means that the driver avoids the harsh penalties that could have been imposed by the court had he been found guilty of intoxicated manslaughter. A conviction of misdemeanor DWI carries with it a maximum jail sentence of six months or probation for one year.

Alcohol-related offenses can end with a jail or prison sentence, fines, probation and/or license suspension. In this case, an intoxicated manslaughter conviction might have permanently ended the student's aspirations of having a professional law career. The reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor does not guarantee his admission to the bar, but his chances are better than they would have been with a felony record.

A person charged with an alcohol-related offense has a great deal at risk, and he or she may benefit from the assistance of a knowledgeable DWI defense attorney.

Source: My San Antonio, "Misdemeanor plea in fatal DWI case," Craig Kapitan, Jan. 25, 2013

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