Being charged with your second or third DWI can be very frightening. You could be facing felony charges, a prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines. It might seem like there is no way out of it, but that is not always the case.

In June 2010, police arrested a Texas man for driving while intoxicated. Because he had at least two previous DWI convictions, he was charged with a felony DWI and faced up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Police say they found the man drunk and asleep in his idling truck. He reportedly failed a sobriety test and had a blood-alcohol level of .42 -- over five times the legal limit.

At last week's trial, the jury was presented with multiple forms of evidence from both the prosecution and the defense. They were shown a police video of the suspect failing the sobriety test and heard descriptions of what the officers found in and around his car -- tire tracks in the mud and a half-empty can of beer.

The jurors in this case, carefully considered all of the evidence, asking questions when necessary about the law: Is operating a vehicle the same as driving a vehicle?

The prosecution tried to argue that the defendant's high blood-alcohol content was reason enough to believe he had been driving drunk at some point that day, even though there were no witnesses. The defense, however, made the clear point that nothing the prosecution claimed could be proven. Because the man was sleeping when police found him, he could not have been driving the vehicle, and no one had seen him driving his truck earlier. Plain and simple, there was no way to prove that he ever operated his vehicle while intoxicated.

The jury understood that evidence cannot be assumed, and after over three hours of deliberating, declared him not guilty.


San Angelo Standard Times: "Man acquitted in DWI case," Matthew Waller, 15 Feb. 2011