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Can A DWI Be Reduced To Obstruction Of Highway?

By October 19, 2022February 9th, 2024DWI

DWI Reduced To Obstruction Of A Highway? Does It Make Sense To Consider This Plea Offer? (2022)

In this article, I want to break down the negotiation tactic many DWI and criminal lawyers employ to reduce a DWI charged in Texas to the non-alcohol related crime of Obstruction of a Highway or Roadway. When does it happen? How can a lawyer do this, and does it make sense to accept this option?

Before we analyze this option as a plea deal for a DWI case, let us first examine the crime of Obstruction of Highway. What does Texas criminal law say about the crime of Obstruction of Highway?

If you have been arrested for the misdemeanor crime of Obstructing Highway or Passageway (Obstruction of a Highway or Roadway) you should call The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC immediately to discuss your legal options.

Receiving a criminal conviction for Obstructing Highway or Passageway can carry with it serious financial and long-term consequences. In addition to being fined up to $2,000 by the State of Texas, a conviction for Obstruction of Highway can result in the loss of your employment, a tarnished reputation and a limitation on future employment and advancement opportunities.

The most common situation where an individual is arrested for Obstruction of Highway is when a person stops their motor vehicle in traffic and holds up traffic and refuses or is unable to move their vehicle.

However, according to Texas Penal Code Section 42.03, A person commits the crime of Obstructing Highway or Passageway if, without legal privilege or authority, he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

(1) obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, elevator, aisle, hallway, entrance, or exit to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access, or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, regardless of the means of creating the obstruction and whether the obstruction arises from his acts alone or from his acts and the acts of others; or

(2) disobeys a reasonable request or order to move issued by a person the actor knows to be or is informed is a peace officer, a fireman, or a person with authority to control the use of the premises:

  1. to prevent obstruction of a highway or any of those areas mentioned in Subdivision (1); or
  2. to maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire, riot, or other hazard.

According to Texas criminal law, “obstruct” means to render impassable or to render passage unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous. Additionally, Obstruction of Highway is classified as a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by a term in the Tarrant County Jail of up to 180 days and up to a $4,000 fine.

As you can see, a conviction for Obstruction of Highway could result in a loss of your freedom and severely damage your reputation and limit your opportunity to obtain or retain employment. It is important to fight for your freedom and reputation by hiring an aggressive criminal attorney that knows the courts in Tarrant County and is willing to do what it takes to protect your clean record.

Now that we have identified the specifics of the crime of Obstruction of Highway, what does this crime have to do with a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge in Texas? The crime of obstruction of highway has been used by many Texas prosecutors to negotiate DWI cases that have evidentiary problems as a means of resolve the case in a plea deal.

What Happens Behind The Scenes In Plea Deal Negotiations?

As a general rule, every prosecutor in Texas is trained to attempt to negotiate a plea deal on a DWI case, even if the case has weak evidence and may not be provable in a jury trial. As a result, prosecutors offer to modify the DWI charge to an Obstruction of Highway, thereby saving the accused considerable collateral consequences that normally accompany a DWI conviction in Texas. While this may be a favorable option for first-time offenders, similarly, the penalty for a fourth DWI in Texas would offer no such plea deal.

An experienced and aggressive DWI lawyer will put in work at the beginning of the case to provide as many options as possible for their client. Part of creating options for clients involves the attorney’s ability to analyze and comb through the police reports and videos to identify evidence issues that could provide an Obstruction of Highway as an option for resolution.

Jeff Hampton

After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a felony crimes lawyer, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.