We are always told that the law favors no one and that justice is blind. And yet, a quick glance at driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest and conviction records in Texas show that sentencing can vary greatly from one case to another, even if the charges are exactly the same. To understand there are seemingly unexplained differences and fluctuations in the criminal justice system, it is important to acknowledge that the law is not completely inflexible.
Judges in nearly any case are given the ability to use their own discretion, or their better judgement. They are a judge, after all. This alone can cause some dramatic differences in sentencing, verdicts, and how the courtroom process plays out.
What Penalties Actually Work?
There is also an unspoken concern about whether or not harsh criminal penalties actually help the situation at all. Throwing someone in jail for 180 days for drunk driving is certainly penalizing but is it effective? Does it teach them the errors of their ways?
More and more judges are growing less and less convinced that excessive jail time will keep Texas roads safe. With this skepticism in mind, they may choose to use probation and mandatory drunk driving educational courses, mixed with helpful community service time, to promote better driving behavior. In some cases, it doesn’t do anyone any good to even entirely take away an offender’s license. For example, if a DWI offender is a single parent and their child needs to go to school across town, they might be able to get a hardship license to allow them to drive to and from the school. It all boils down to a judge wanting to do the best thing for their community while still upholding the law.
A Little Knowledge Never Hurt
Another crucial factor in the seemingly varied penalties for DWIs in Texas is the presence of an attorney, or lack thereof. People who attempt to represent themselves are more likely to say or do the wrong thing, and wind up with a full plate of maximum penalties upon conviction. Those who make the decision to work with a criminal defense lawyer early on are generally the drivers who get minimum penalties, probation terms, or their case totally dismissed.
If you have been arrested for a DWI and aren’t sure what the future will hold for you, contact the Law Offices of Kyle K. Shaw, PLLC. Our Allen criminal defense lawyer has been advocating for the people of Collin County since 1998, and has no intention of slowing down now. Request your free initial consultation now and learn what we can do for your case.