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TRBR. Todd Bennett, P.C.

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Texas man sentenced to 50 years for fourth DWI

A Texas man has been sentenced to prison for 50 years in prison for repeatedly breaking the state's drunk driving laws. Sentences such as this one are often handed down to drunk drivers who have caused a fatal crash, but the 48-year-old Galveston County man sentenced on March 11 was not involved in an accident. Prosecutors said that the man received the long sentence because of three prior DWI convictions, the most recent of which occurred in 2009, and two prior felony convictions.

According to reports, police in Santa Fe pulled the man's vehicle over after observing it being driven on the shoulder and narrowly avoiding a collision. The officers involved claim that the man also ran a red light before coming within three feet or so of a minivan. The man was taken into custody when officers determined that he was impaired. Subsequent toxicology tests reveal that the man's blood contained significant levels of muscle relaxant and pain medicine. Police say that they also discovered a child in the passenger seat of the man's vehicle and a records check revealed that his driver's license had been suspended.

Reports indicate that the jury involved did not hesitate before handing down the harsh sentence, and prosecutors claim that they would have been happy to send the man to prison for even longer if they had been able to. The man will be required to serve at least a quarter of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

This case shows how little sympathy those accused of driving while intoxicated are likely to receive from juries even if they did not cause an accident. Criminal defense attorneys may seek to avoid the uncertainty of a jury decision by negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors or questioning the reliability of breath test results or the constitutionality of the traffic stop.

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