Cobb County DUI Attorney Discusses a Case Where the Defendant Claims the Definition Of Intoxication Discriminates Against Alcoholics

Posted by Richard Lawson | Mar 09, 2018 | 0 Comments

There are a number of different defenses that an accused individual can raise when facing a DUI charge such as improper administration of field sobriety tests, lack of reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over and inaccurate or incorrect chemical testing. These are just a few examples of the types of defenses that may be available to a driver who is suspected of operating his or her vehicle while under the influence. What defense is appropriate will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual defendant's case.

In Texas, the Third District Court of Appeals recently ruled on a novel defense raised by a defendant who claims he is an alcoholic. Like most states, the legal limit is 0.08. The defendant in the case was charged and later convicted of a felony DWI and sentenced to four years in prison. Prior to trial he filed a motion to quash the indictment, contending that the state's BAC law “discriminates against alcoholics because ‘many of those folks who suffer the disease of alcoholism are able to maintain normal functioning at .08 versus a person who does not [suffer from the disease of alcoholism.]”

He made several arguments to support his contention, such as “the 0.08 alcohol definition ‘forces a strict liability of criminal responsibility on something that an alcoholic would possibly have no control over,' which he maintained, violates an alcoholic's equal protection rights.” None of the arguments he proposed were supported by case law, statutes, or scientific evidence-–the defendant mentioned there were studies that supported his position but none were offered at trial.

On appeal, the defendant “maintain[ed] that alcoholism is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, assert[ed] that the 0.08 per se definition of intoxication ‘does little to improve highway safety,' and claim[ed] that the 0.08 presumption is ‘arbitrary and overly broad.'” He asked the appellate court to hold that the definition of intoxication in Texas violates “the right to equal protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Texas Constitution.'”

Unfortunately for the defendant, while the argument is unique and novel, it failed to persuade the court. In summation, the court stated "because the 0.08 alcohol concentration definition of intoxicated applies to all DWI offenders, all similarly situated persons are treated alike under the DWI statutory scheme. Therefore, appellant failed to establish that the [definition of intoxication] violate[d] [his] equal protection rights under the United States and Texas Constitutions or that the statutes are unconstitutional on their face or as applied to him.”

The court then ruled that the trial court was correct in denying the defendant's motion to quash and affirmed his conviction.

Cobb County DUI Attorney

Whether or not you have substance abuse issues, if you have been charged with a fourth DUI offense, it is nothing to take lightly. In Georgia, a fourth DUI is a felony and can result in mandatory time behind bars, significant fines, and a lengthy license suspension. A skilled and competent Cobb County DUI attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, can help you fight these serious charges. Contact our office today to discuss your case and possible defenses with our knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense team. You can reach us by calling (404) 816-4440 or by filling out our online contact form.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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