Juror Disqualification Disrupts Texas DWI Trial

A Midland County Texas courtroom faced an unusual situation this week after too many potential jurors in a drunk driving case were disqualified. The case involves a woman charged with her third offense for driving while intoxicated in Texas. Under Texas DWI laws, that crime is categorized as a felony. 17 of the 49 members of the jury pool felt the outlined sentencing options included a penalty that was too lenient. Those members were disqualified, and as a result there were not enough potential jurors left to continue the jury selection process.

The full range of punishment presented to the jury panel covered probation to ten years in jail. The seventeen jurors felt probation was not harsh enough for a felony Texas DWI, which caused their dismissal from the pool. The Assistant District Attorney on the case said usually objections are made to the more severe penalties, not probation. He surmised that drunk driving in Texas is perceived as a greater danger now, and that lead to the call for harsher penalties.

The county will call a larger panel of jurors in about three weeks, in hopes of seating an unbiased group.

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