The Dallas Morning News reported on August 8, 2023, that a high-ranking officer in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department was facing charges after an early morning incident. Lieutenant Michael Raley was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and unlawful carrying of a handgun following a traffic stop early on July 8th.

Lieutenant Raley’s car struck a concrete barrier at the intersection of Skillman Street and the LBJ Freeway around 2:50 a.m. Responding officers detected alcohol on Raley’s breath and found a handgun during a pat-down.

Despite concerns about his job security, Raley declined all field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer. Officers deemed Raley unfit to drive, posing a danger to himself and others.

He was arrested on DWI and unlawful handgun possession charges. Raley refused a blood alcohol content test at the scene.

Officers obtained a search warrant and later drew his blood at the hospital. Lieutenant Raley is currently on administrative leave while the department conducts an internal investigation.

Raley declined to comment on the incident. Internal investigations and administrative leave are common with law enforcement officer arrests for DWI, as upon arrest, an officer’s department usually investigates and suspends them until the case concludes.

A DWI conviction may lead to termination. While one DWI may not permanently bar an officer from law enforcement, multiple convictions or felonies (especially ones involving violence) could.

Felony convictions can also often result in firearm restrictions, hindering police work. Police officers typically face the same criminal penalties as other alleged offenders.

This story came only a few months after KDFW reported that Senior Corporal Geoffrey Pettay, a Dallas police officer since 2002, was arrested in Wylie, Texas, on suspicion of DWI. Pettay was pulled over around 4:25 a.m., and details surrounding the arrest are still under investigation.

The Dallas Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit was investigating the incident, and Pettay was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

On August 9, 2023, KDFW-TV reported that the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office fired Raley following the arrest. He had been with the department since 2005.

On August 31, 2023, the Morning News reported that a 26-year-old woman stood accused of DWI and striking a pedestrian on Friday evening in Old East Dallas. The victim, a 63-year-old man, tragically died from his injuries.

Police records reveal at least two prior DWI charges against the woman. Responding officers to the scene noted a strong odor of alcohol on her person, a witness reported seeing her holding an open alcoholic beverage, and she refused field sobriety tests.

Despite denying alcohol consumption, Phillips faces a third or more DWI charges, highlighting a history of similar offenses. Her bail sits at $75,000, and it was unclear if she had legal representation.

Whereas a person’s first two DWI arrests are misdemeanor offenses, a third or subsequent DWI becomes a third-degree felony charge. A conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or at least 10 days in jail if probation is granted, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

According to WFAA-TV, police said they determined that the woman had been driving northbound in the middle lane of traffic and was attempting to change to the left lane of traffic when her car struck the 63-year-old man as he was crossing the street. Police also said they determined that the man was not using the crosswalk as he attempted to cross the road, but it was unclear whether the woman would face additional charges.

In another pedestrian-related accident, the Morning News reported on July 2, 2023, that in Pleasant Grove, Texas, a 21-year-old woman DWI fatally struck a pedestrian. According to police, the young woman was driving northbound on South Buckner Boulevard near Hume Drive around 2 a.m. when she struck a man crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk. 

The man, whose identity remains undisclosed pending notification of next of kin, tragically died at the scene. Her vehicle continued through the intersection, crashing across the median and southbound lanes before colliding with a light pole at Blossom Lane. 

She was subsequently arrested and booked into the Dallas County jail on a DWI charge. No bond information was available, and it remained unclear if she had legal representation.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing, and additional charges against Neal are possible. This tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of drunk driving and the importance of exercising caution on the road, both for drivers and pedestrians.

Heightened Penalties for Related DWI Crimes

Driving while intoxicated in Texas carries hefty penalties, even for a first offense. While a base DWI comes with up to 180 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, causing an accident while drunk dramatically escalates the charges and consequences.

Any accident involving injury or death elevates your DWI to a felony, potentially landing you in prison for years. Intoxication assault under Texas Penal Code § 49.07 can result in up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for serious bodily injury, up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for any brain injury, on-duty firefighters, or EMS personnel, and up to 99 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for peace officers or judges.

Intoxication manslaughter under Texas Penal Code § 49.08 may result in up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for taking a life with a DWI. Even property damage comes with a sting.

Wrecking someone’s belongings while drunk adds a reckless damage charge to a DWI, meaning more fines and potential jail time. Hit-and-run is an even worse choice.

Fleeing the scene of a DUI accident adds another layer of legal trouble, with charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies based on the severity of the accident. Chemical tests are also mandatory if an officer suspects your DWI caused serious injury or death. 

Refusal may lead to even harsher penalties. One bad decision behind the wheel can shatter lives.

The articles mentioned above also called attention to the many problems surrounding people with multiple DWI arrests. Three DWI offenses do not just mean jail time and fines. 

They can become a life sentence for hardship and missed opportunities. Here is how a third DWI conviction in Texas can shackle your future:

  • Felony Record: Say goodbye to student loans, certain jobs, and even housing opportunities. A felony conviction hangs like a scarlet letter, limiting your education, career, and living options.
  • No Vote, No Voice: Your civic duty? Gone. Felony convictions strip you of your right to vote in Texas, silencing your voice on issues that impact you and your community.
  • Locked and Unloaded: Owning a firearm becomes a distant dream. Felony convictions often mean an extended gun ban, denying you the right to self-defense or recreational shooting.
  • Interlocked Future: Get used to breathalyzer checkpoints on your steering wheel. Texas courts can mandate ignition interlock devices for third-time offenders. These devices prevent your car from starting if you’ve been drinking, keeping you and others safe but marking your every drive with restrictions.

Here is what triggers a third DWI charge under Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b). Two prior convictions from a wide range of alcohol-related offenses can land you in hot water. 

This includes things like:

  • Standard DWI (Texas Penal Code § 49.04): You got caught driving buzzed or worse.
  • Child Passenger DWI (Texas Penal Code § 49.045): Putting your kid at risk while intoxicated.
  • Intoxication Assault (Texas Penal Code § 49.07): You hurt someone because of your reckless choices.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter (Texas Penal Code § 49.08): Your drunk driving took a life.
  • Flying While Intoxicated (Texas Penal Code § 49.05): Buzzed piloting? That’s a felony too.
  • Boating While Intoxicated (Texas Penal Code § 49.06): Taking your bad habits to the water.
  • Amusement Ride DWI (Texas Penal Code § 49.065): Putting others at risk with your inebriation – even at the carnival.

Remember, “prior” can include convictions from other states too. So, driving under the influence (DUI) in California could count towards your Texas third strike.

Aggressive DWI Defense in Dallas, TX

If you are facing DWI charges anywhere in the greater Dallas area, you cannot afford to wait to seek legal representation for help defending yourself in a court of law. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has handled scores of DWI offenses all over Texas, so we are very comfortable investigating these cases and determining all of a person’s best defense options.

We encourage you to review some of the DWI case results we share on our website. You can see that we have gotten many second DWI offenses reduced to first offenses, gotten DWI charges dismissed entirely, and had various DWI breath test cases dismissed for various reasons.

DWI remains one of the most common criminal offenses people are charged with in Texas, and nobody is in the clear with this kind of criminal charge because even ordinarily law-abiding regulars among us may make a bad decision one night that leads to an unfortunate traffic stop. You need to understand that you have defense options when you are arrested for DWI, even if you submitted to a breath test indicating that you were legally drunk.

Our firm knows how to combat all kinds of DWI charges, so we are not afraid to tackle any kind of DWI case. You can call our firm at (972) 233-5700 or contact us online to arrange a completely free consultation.