What is a DWI reduction and what is “obstruction of a passageway?”
In this article, I will attempt to explain what it means when we defense lawyers tell our clients their DWI charges will be “reduced” and what happens when a reduction takes place.
It is very common for misdemeanor DWI charges to be “reduced”. Not everyone who gets arrested and charged with DWI actually gets convicted of DWI. If the DWI is a weak case for the state, meaning that the prosecution does not believe that they could prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the Defendant was intoxicated, or the state finds other good reasons to not recommend that the Defendant plead guilty, they may offer to “reduce” the DWI.
What this most often means is that the state will offer to let the Defendant plead guilty or receive deferred adjudication on an “obstruction of passageway” charge.
An obstruction of a passageway charge is a Class B misdemeanor. Unlike DWI, it is a non-intoxication offense. It is essentially a charge of blocking a roadway or sidewalk.
When a “reduction” is done, the state will actually file a new charge against the Defendant for obstruction of a passageway. It has a cause number, a charging instrument, and a court date just like the DWI. At that point, the Defendant will have two cases pending against him or her – both the DWI and the obstruction of a passageway.
At that point, the Defendant will then plead guilty and either get a final conviction for obstruction of a passageway or be placed on deferred adjudication probation. For a final conviction, the Defendant can either get days in jail as a punishment or be placed on a DWI-like probation requiring counseling and community service. For a deferred adjudication, the Defendant will not get a final conviction as long as the probation is done properly. This probation will include counseling and community service and may include alcohol monitoring, like an interlock device.
Once the Defendant has resolved the obstruction of a passageway charge, the DWI is dismissed, meaning that there is no final conviction for that DWI.
This can be a very good result if a Defendant appears somewhat intoxicated in the evidence taken from the DWI arrest but would like to keep the DWI off his or her record. An obstruction of a passageway does not carry a statutory license suspension, a surcharge, or the social stigma of a DWI. Having an obstruction on a criminal record may not have the economic consequences of a DWI. Lastly, and importantly, it is not enhanceable. If one has an obstruction of a passageway on his or her record, if s/he is accused of DWI a second time, it will still be charged as a 1st time DWI.
I have a great deal of experience in negotiating obstructions for my clients who have DWI charges with some evidence of intoxication. Call me today if you are charged with DWI.