Texas 3rd Court of Appeals Rules Life for 3rd Felony DWI is Not Cruel and Unusual Punishment

DWI, Driving While Intoxicated, Drunk Driving

Tagged with: Dwi Criminal Defense

Posted on: August 1, 2014

Courts in Texas are getting very serious about Driving While Intoxicated (#DWI). A 3rd Offense DWI or more in Texas is normally a 3rd degree felony. That being said, like all felonies it can be enhanced. Every final conviction you have always opens you up to the collateral consequence of enhancements. If you read the article, this is the woman’s 3rd FELONY DWI. This means she had two prior final felony convictions.  If you have one prior final felony conviction, it can be enhanced as to a second degree felony. If you have two prior final felony convictions, it can be enhanced to a first degree felony. A first degree felony carries with it a minimum of 5 years in prison with a maximum of life or 99 years. The jury or judge can also assess a fine up to $10,000.  The defendant's parole eligibility will vary greatly depending on whether the state alleged a deadly weapon enhancement, which was not clear from records accessible on the Hays County District Court Web Site.

See original article:  http://www.statesman.com/news/news/court-upholds-life-term-for-3rd-felony-dwi/ngsQ6/?ecmp=statesman_social_facebook_2014_sfp

 

By Chuck Lindell

American-Statesman Staff

A life sentence for a third felony conviction for driving while intoxicated is not cruel and unusual punishment, a state appeals court said Friday.

Ruling on a 2012 case out of Hays County, the 3rd Court of Appeals said Rose Ann Davidson is not entitled to a new, lighter sentence after her most recent conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Davidson had argued that the sentence of life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because it was “grossly disproportionate” to the offense.

But a unanimous three-judge panel of the Austin appeals court rejected Davidson’s appeal, ruling that her lawyer had failed to object to the punishment during her trial, and therefore did not preserve the issue for an appeal.

Even with a proper objection, the court ruled, Davidson’s sentence would not have been overturned because her repeated DWI arrests showed a dangerous pattern of behavior that “placed her life and the lives of others in jeopardy.”

“It is well established that a sentence of life imprisonment or of similar length is not grossly disproportionate to a felony offense that is committed by a habitual offender, even when the felony is not inherently violent in nature,” said the opinion, written by Justice Bob Pemberton.

Davidson, changing lanes erratically as she drove 45 mph in a 70 mph zone of Interstate 35, was pulled over by a Kyle police officer at 2:45 a.m. in July 2012, court records show.

The stop resulted in her third felony DWI conviction since 2008, making Donaldson eligible for an enhanced sentence as a habitual offender. She also had been convicted of two other DWI charges in 2002 in Travis and Hays counties, records show.

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