In response to my post about DWI lawyers and blogs, a commenter who called himself DWI Officer wrote:

Jamie, it is interesting that you wrote, "I often wonder at why jurors are so ready to ruin the lives of defendants who are on trial for DWI…" Don’t you think the defendant has some control over his/her life, such as making the choice to drive under the influence in the first place? It is no secret that driving under the influence is against the law. 

Just a bit of nitpicking first. Actually the portion of that post about jurors ruining lives was quoted from – and quite noticeably attributed to – Robert Guest, another Texas DWI lawyer, but one who practices in Dallas.

And the point of my post was actually that I felt I had learned something from Guest’s post that I could use in my own practice. (And thus, that lawyer blogs are worth reading.)

But I did quote that portion, so let me address it.

The short answer to the question is “Yes, obviously defendants who choose to drink and drive play a large role in getting themselves convicted”. As Bart Simpson once said about a fiasco he had entirely created “I can’t help but feel partly responsibly”.

But let’s take a look at the last sentence from DWI Officer’s comment:

It is no secret that driving under the influence is against the law. 

Well this is Texas, so let’s substitute ‘driving while impaired’, which is roughly the definition of intoxicated for DWI, for ‘driving under the influence’.

And while it may not be a ‘secret’ that DWI is illegal in Texas, it is a secret what intoxicated means.

First, no one knows when they are at or just above a .08 blood or breath alcohol concentration. Yes, sometimes they are or should be pretty certain that they are substantially over the limit – but no one knows where the line itself is.

Even when a defendant charged with DWI comes in to hire us, and is completely honest and truthful about what they had to drink over what period of time, even then the lawyer doesn’t always know.

So, yes, my DWI clients make decisions that get them arrested; not all of the decisions, but obviously the initial ones. They chose to drink alcohol and drive a vehicle some time later. But that, in and of itself, is not a criminal offense.