The Judge who sentenced country music superstar Randy Travis for his public intoxication charge in February could likely say, "I told you so," regarding the probability of a subsequent alcohol-related arrest.
In the ever interesting world of alcohol-related arrests, Travis is the latest star following his "special" incident in Texas Tuesday. Travis was arrested for DWI and felony retaliation after being found out of his clothes, but not out of his bones on a remote stretch of Texas highway.
It is reported that when arrested Travis allegedly threatened to "shoot and kill" Troopers working the case. Travis initially refused all efforts to obtain a breath or blood alcohol test but was later ordered by a Judge to submit to a blood test.
With respect to his misdemeanor arrest for DWI, depending on Texas law, the prosecutor's office may have difficulty earning a conviction. For purposes of analyzing the DWI case, I'll apply Florida law to what we know of Travis' wild night.
Generally for a misdemeanor arrest to occur, an officer must see all elements of the misdemeanor statute. In a DUI, the officer must see that a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and then must develop probable cause that the individual was driving while impaired. The general misdemeanor in the presence of an officer statute is found at Florida Statute 901.15.
However, Florida, in addition to many other states, has what is called the "traffic crash exception" for a DUI or other traffic-related case. The crash exception is valid where a layperson witnesses all the elements of a DUI or other traffic related offense and there is an accident. Florida's traffic crash exception is found at Florida Statute 316.645.
In Travis' case, a layperson called the police to report a man without clothes on in the middle of the road. When the police arrived they determined a crash had occurred and despite not seeing Travis behind the wheel, made the arrest. If the layperson saw Travis behind the wheel, and Texas has an accident exception, they will likely have met their burden of showing all the elements of the DWI occurred in order to get this case to a jury for deliberation.
If the layperson can't put Travis behind the wheel prior to his roadside strip tease, Texas is going to have a hard time proving DWI as they can't show conclusively that Travis was driving his car while impaired. If the layperson did see Travis driving, Travis may still have a defense to the DWI allegation based on the crash exception by showing that a crash didn't actually occur.
Florida law defines a traffic crash to be a "breaking to pieces" pursuant to State v. Prest, 14 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 663 (2007). Theoretically if Travis put his car in the ditch and there was no "breaking to pieces" of anything on his car, he could defend by saying there is no accident per definition, and thus no accident exception and under Florida Statute 901.15 so the State can't prosecute because the officer did not witness all elements of the misdemeanor.
I recently earned a dismissal after a motion to suppress on this very issue where my client blew a .282 because the State couldn't show an accident had occurred where my client was alleged to have crashed his motorcycle.
Aside from the nudity, rural Texas roads, and alcohol, Randy Travis may have some interesting legal issues in his case. Without looking at the police report and witness statement, there is nothing we can do but speculate on the legal issues at this point. In the meantime, I believe it's a pretty safe bet that Randy will keep drinking forever and ever, amen.
Jason Mayberry is an attorney located in Clearwater practicing throughout the Tampa Bay area. The practice focuses on Federal and State criminal defense, personal injury, medical malpractice, and family law. Thank you for reading our blog and if you have questions or are in need of an attorney, please do not hesitate to call us at 727-771-3847 or visit us on the web at www.pinellas-dui-attorney.com.