Technicality Results in Texas Man’s DWI Conviction Being Overturned by Appeals Court

In the state of Texas, an individual may be sentenced to life in prison for a third felony DWI conviction. Recently, a 44-year-old Texas man may have received a new lease on life, when an appeals court overturned a DWI conviction from an incident that occurred in 2012.

According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, 44-year-old Samuel Gentry of Whitehouse was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for the 2012 incident. Gentry was stopped by a Tyler police officer in 2012 who determined that Gentry was intoxicated. The officer tried to get Gentry to submit to a breathalyzer test, however he refused. The officer then obtained a medical blood draw from Gentry, but did not have a warrant when he did so. This, according to the article, has become fairly common with offenders in Texas who have been convicted of DWI at least twice in the past.

During Gentry’s pretrial, his attorney attempted to have the blood draw evidence thrown out, however the judge denied the motion. Gentry then decided he would plead guilty rather than going to trial. During this time, a case known as Missouri v. McNeeley was being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, the defendant, like Gentry, had been subjected to a warrantless blood draw. While prosecutors argued that these warrantless procedures were essential because of how quickly alcohol can evacuate from the blood stream, the Supreme Court disagreed and found that warrantless blood draws violate a defendant’s right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case, the Twelfth Court of Appeals reversed Gentry’s conviction and remanded his case back to court, finding that “the implied consent and mandatory blood draw statutory schemes found in the transportation code are not exceptions to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment.”

While Michigan’s criminal penalties for a felony third DUI conviction are in no way similar to those in Texas, they are still very serious. A third OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated conviction in Michigan will result in between one to five years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, up to 180 days of community service, mandatory vehicle immobilization, and more.

Individuals who have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may wish to appeal their conviction, particularly if as in the case above, their rights were violated in some manner. We all have constitutional rights, and when those rights are violated by police, it may be grounds to appeal.

When appealing a conviction for any crime whether DUI, armed robbery, sexual assault, or even murder, it is critical to have an experienced and knowledgeable Michigan criminal appeals lawyer on your side. Winning an appeal is rare; give yourself the best possible chance by hiring a quality attorney.

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