Perhaps 52-year-old actor Tim Williams should have booked a hotel room instead of driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas.
According to Houston Police Department officers, Williams was “passed out in his vehicle in a moving lane of traffic.” After he failed field sobriety tests, he consented to a blood test. Those results were unavailable. But they must not have been very good, because Williams was transported to jail.
Williams got his acting start as a troubled teen on the 1980s Cosby Show.
Many people are surprised to learn that “driving” is not an element of “driving while intoxicated.” Under state law, Ramsey County prosecutors need only prove that the defendant was “operating” the vehicle. Perhaps even more oddly, consciousness is not a requirement for operating a vehicle.
If the defendant had the keys and the car was drivable (e.g. there was gas in the tank), most Ramsey County judges would rule that the defendant was operating the vehicle. The theory is that, at any time, the defendant could have emerged from his or her slumber, started the car, and drove down the road.
Non-driving DWI charges only hold up in court if the defendant was in a public place. Not all streets are public places. Our St. Paul criminal defense attorneys have convinced judges to throw cases out of court on this basis.
A private driveway is never a public place. If the defendant was parked at the curb in front of his or her own house, that may not be a public place either. This area is not exactly public property, and not exactly private property either. For example, if someone slips and falls because of a crack on the sidewalk in front of your house, you will probably get sued.
Large private parking lots, like a mall or apartment complex parking lot, are not public places either. Even if the parking lot had street names and traffic control devices, like stop signs, it is still private property.
Furthermore, prosecutors must file the DWI case in the county where it occurred. That requirement is not always as easy as it looks. The Hennepin County/Ramsey County line is a good example. Many communities straddle the line. The waters get even muddier if an officer spots a DWI suspect in Hennepin County and pull her over in Ramsey County, or vice versa.
On a related note, the “motor vehicle” definition is a bit odd in Minnesota as well. In many jurisdictions, a motor vehicle is, well, a vehicle with a motor. But in the North Star State, anything that moves is usually a motor vehicle. That includes things like skateboards and horses. These kinds of DWIs are rare, but aggressive Ramsey County prosecutors file them from time to time.
Speaking of aggressive prosecutors, Ramsey County prosecutors are notorious for filing the most serious charges that the facts could possibly support. When they get overanxious like that, it is much easier for a St. Paul criminal defense attorney to beat DWI enhancements like:
Enhanced DWIs mean enhanced direct and indirect penalties. In addition to higher fines and longer jail or prison time, an enhanced DWI usually means vehicle impoundment or forfeiture. In first time simple DWIs, this proceeding is not as common.
In many jurisdictions, the DWI blood test conviction rate is close to 100 percent. These case are difficult, but not impossible, to disprove in court.
Blood tests, unlike breath tests, preserve the chemical sample. So, a St. Paul criminal defense attorney can have the sample re-tested at an independent lab. Many times, these laboratory results are different from the ones that police techs claim.
Additionally, in terms of the evidence, there are a lot of moving parts. Typically, blood samples go from a clinic to a laboratory to the police station to the courthouse. If there is any gap in the chain of custody, a St. Paul criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the validity of the sample.
A complex DWI case is really just a house of cards. Pull out one, and the whole thing comes down. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul criminal defense attorney, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at