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Drunk driving charge following three accidents

Police charged a 31-year-old man in Midland, Texas, with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of three accidents. Officials identified the man as an oilfield worker featured on a reality TV show about oil drillers in West Texas.

The man is alleged to have a prior driving while intoxicated conviction. Under Texas, a prior DWI conviction can increase both the severity of the charges and the penalties a judge can impose at sentencing. Police did not say if the motorist submitted to either field sobriety tests or a Breathalyzer test to measure his blood-alcohol content at the time of the accidents.

A popular misconception is that police need evidence of a driver's blood-alcohol content to establish that the person was driving while intoxicated. Proof of a person's BAC from a blood, urine or breath test is only one method of proving intoxication. Prosecutors can use the testimony of a police to prove intoxication based factors such as slurred speech, an odor of alcohol, glassy or bloodshot eyes, and an unsteady gait when walking.

The penalties associated with conviction of driving while intoxicated and other alcohol-related offenses might include fines, a prison sentence, probation supervision and license suspension. Where, as in this case, the accused has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated, the judge can increase the amount of the fine, length of imprisonment or probation and extend the period of a license suspension.

If there is evidence of a driver's BAC level, the DWI defense might challenge the methods used by the police and technicians to obtain the tested samples. A deviation from the procedures established by law for obtaining or handling the samples could weaken the prosecution's case against the accused.

Source: KHOU, "'Black Gold' driller accused of drunken driving," April 3, 2013

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Houston, TX 77008

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