Published on:

DWI Directed Verdict

I had a DWI bench trial few weeks ago and received a directed verdict of not guilty. I respect the ADA involved so I’ve waited until now to write about it. I don’t want to appear like I’m scoreboarding anyone. It was a unique case that played out very strange at trial.

It offers a lesson for DWI defendants. The information contained in a police report may very greatly from the evidence at trial. Cross examination is still the best way to test the veracity of evidence.

What is a directed verdict?
In general, at trial after the State rests (finishes presenting their case in chief) the defense will move for a directed verdict. The defense is asking the judge to find the defendant not guilty because as a matter of law the State has failed to produce any evidence on an element of the case. I’ve seen and made dozens of directed verdict motions. They are routinely denied.

Why was mine granted?
I made a motion to suppress all the State’s evidence during trial. The judge granted that motion. That meant that the State had not put on any evidence of DWI. Therefore, a directed verdict was required.

Why was my motion to suppress granted?
The arrest report listed one set of facts regarding the initial traffic stop. At trial, the officer testified to a complete different reason for the traffic stop. However, that reason was factually impossible. It couldn’t have happened. Evidence from an illegal traffic stop can’t be used against the defendant (38.23). Ergo, all the State’s evidence vanished.

Why did I have a bench trial instead of a jury trial?

The decision to have a judge or jury trial is always up to the defendant. I provide advise of what to do. But if the client and I disagree, it’s his/her decision.

Going into trial I thought there was going to be a legal defense of necessity. DWI necessity is a strange animal. I thought allowing the judge to rule on the facts and the law would be most beneficial in that situation. However, with the directed verdict the necessity issue was never raised.

Published on:
Updated:

4 Responses to “DWI Directed Verdict”

  1. BSG says:

    Good job. But why wasn’t the motion heard before the bench trial? That would have avoided the trial altogether?

  2. Robert Guest says:

    There wasn’t a pre trial hearing set in this case. So motions were carried to trial.

  3. Fake Name says:

    Senate Bill 261 amends sections 724.012(b) of the Transportation Code to expand the circumstances under which warrantless blood draws SHALL be taken after injury accidents. The bill lowers the degree of injury is from “serious bodily injury” to simple “bodily injury.” Blood would also be taken if anyone, other than the suspect, is “transported” anywhere for “medical treatment” (hospital, clinic, doctor’s office, chiropractor, faith-healer etc..)
    Also the suspect doesn’t specifically need to be arrrested for DWI. Blood will be taken if the officer has “reliable information” that the suspect has ever been arrested for DWI-Child Passenger or Intoxication Assault/Manslaughter. Blood will also be take if he has 2 previous arrests from amoung DWI, BWI, FlyingWI, or Amusment-Park-Operations-While Intoxicated.
    Those are previous *arrests* not previous convictions!
    So anyway, here is a link to the text of Senate Bill 261:
    http://files.statesurge.com/file/841231
    And here is some alarmist media justification in support of the bill:
    http://www.star-telegram.com/state_news/story/1121275.html

  4. Fake Name says:

    I forgot the most terrible part of SB 261: under the existing law the manditory blood draw happens only if the suspect refuses to voluntarily give a sample of breath, blood, or urine. If this law passes the suspect will no longer have any choice in the matter of which intoxication test is used. They can take your blood EVEN IF YOU ARE WILLING to give a breath or urine sample.