If you are charged with felony driving while intoxicated in Harris County, Tex. the odds are you will be punished; how severely depends upon a variety of circumstances.
The Leanne Report, a new study from Sam Houston State University, shows that just one person out of the 940 charged in 2000 with felony DWI in Harris County won acquittal in a jury trial.
The Leanne Report — named for the 30-year-old victim of a fatal 1999 accident caused by a driver who had been drinking — show that levels of punishment in state district courts varied widely. While 354 people were sentenced to prison, 348 got probation.
In 182 other cases, charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. Criminology professor Raymond Teske, said 160 of those “were committed to the local jail with no probation” and 15 also were fined. He said the 22 others who had charges reduced to misdemeanors got probation and a fine.
Karen Moore, a retired constable, is the force behind the project. She sees it as part of an ongoing effort to increase public awareness about the problem of drunken driving. Her daughter, Leanne Moore Gaulden, was one of the 1,734 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 1999 in Texas.
Among other findings of the report:
·Only five defendants were no-billed by grand juries in 2000, and just two charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence.
·Six cases filed in 2000 remained unresolved more than a year later, with warrants outstanding for the people charged.
A person with at least two previous DWI convictions can expect to face a felony charge if arrested again. A third DWI offense is a third-degree felony that may be punished by a fine up to $10,000, two to 10 years in prison and license suspension for 180 days to two years.