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Obstructing a Highway

You are charged with DWI. You look good on the video, you refuse to blow, and you have no record. The State offers you a plea bargain in which they will dismiss the DWI if you plead guilty to Obstructing a Highway.

What is obstructing a highway?

OAH is a class B misdemeanor in Texas. It is the same level of offense as a DWI but lacks the $1,000+ driver’s license tax upon conviction. It is also the most frequently pled to charge in a DWI case, other than DWI.

Is OAH really a crime?
Sure. Here is the Texas Penal Code
§ 42.03. OBSTRUCTING HIGHWAY OR OTHER PASSAGEWAY.
(a) A person commits an offense if, without legal privilege or authority, he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, elevator, aisle, hallway, entrance, or exit to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access, or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, regardless of the means of creating the obstruction and whether the obstruction arises from his acts alone or from his acts and the acts of others; or
So people actually plead guilty to OAH to escape a DWI charge?
Yes. However, DWI is NOT a lesser included offense for DWI. That means the State is not barred from charging you with DWI after you plead guilty to OAH. I have never seen a prosecutor who would actually go back on an OAH/DWI plea agreement and not dismiss a DWI charge. It could happen though.

OAH is easily the least arrested for, yet most convicted for offense in Texas. I’ve never seen an actual arrest for OAH. I’ve seen dozens of guilty pleas for OAH.

Can my DWI be changed to OAH?
It’s a very case by case situation. Some DA’s ban the practice. Some limit it to the first time DWI offenders. I’ve seen OAH happen on the day of trial or pre trial, or during a regular plea bargain discussion.

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3 Responses to “Obstructing a Highway”

  1. Obstruction of a highway is a very popular reduction down in Galveston County. I had a client who blew a .24 and we walked out of the courtroom with a plea to obstruction

  2. Don Foard says:

    It’s something that happens quite a bit in the rural counties where I gad about. I mean changing the DWI charge to a OAR. One I remember well was in Brownfield when the brother of the president of the local MADD chapter was on about his 4th DWI. She leaned on the judge and prosecutor, as they are wont to do, and he went on his merry way until the next time, when he plowed into somebody in Levelland. I didn’t even check to see what happened with that one. Gotta watch the ol’ blood pressure, you know. They need to prove up a DWI or drop it.

  3. jimbo says:

    Don wrote:
    “They need to prove up a DWI or drop it.”

    Here in Florida, our version of Obstructing a Roadway is a simple reckless driving. I would have that in about half of all DUI that are amended to reckless driving, there is absolutely no problem in “proving up the DUI.”

    Instead, for a variety of equitable reasons, the DUI charge is amended. The reasons are often quite valid, to wit: Navy pilot with 15 years of service has a bit too much to drink and gets busted for a DUI, blows a .10. Conviction on the DUI means the Navy pilot will lose his wings, taxpayers are out a fighter jock that we spent MILLIONS to train. Most prosecutors would agree that recklessing the DUI is appropriate.

    Or, in cases where there might be a valid legal issue, amending the charge is a win-win situation. Example: driver pulled over for a “traffic infraction” that both the prosecutor and the defense attorney agree COULD be invalid. Chances that the Def would prevail on a motion to suppress is 50%. Prosecutor offers a reckless with probation to do the typical 1st DUI minimum. The State gets a conviction and Def on probation in case he screws up. Def avoids a DUI conviction and loss of license. Defense attorney gets paid and looks like a stud for getting the DUI reduced.

    How is this in any way wrong?