AUSTIN, Texas —Jurors randomly selected from the audience will decide the guilt or innocence of a drunk driving suspect during a live mock trial Tuesday (Oct. 3) at The University of Texas at Austin.
The Honorable Judge Gary Steele of the 274th District Court will preside over the case during which Texas Department of Public Safety Senior Trooper Jeff Sones will testify about the arrest of a student who allegedly was driving while intoxicated following a college party.
The mock trial at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 3), in the University Teaching Center, Room 2.112A, is a joint effort to convey the dangers of drunk driving. It is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Legal Services for Students Office, the Dean of Students Office, Longhorns Against Drunk Driving at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Texas State University Attorney for Students Office. Sign language interpreters will be provided.
The program is titled A Night to Remember: The Truth About DWI.
A second showing will be held on the Southwest Texas State University campus on Oct.10 at 7 p.m. in the LBJ Student Center Teaching Theater.
The program will consist of a video showing “Jason,” played by UT Austin student Martin Demkowicz, becoming intoxicated at a college party. His girlfriend, “Amber,” played by SWTSU student Abby Windham, wishing to keep him from driving, volunteers to take him and several friends to a local restaurant for some dinner. Unfortunately, while not as impaired as her boyfriend, she also is affected by alcohol and is stopped by the state trooper for unsafe driving. The film accurately depicts what happens to a person who is arrested for DWI from the field sobriety tests through the arrest, jailing and booking procedures.
Defense attorney and adjunct UT Austin law school professor Richard Segura of Austin and former Hays County prosecuting attorney David Watts will try the case before a jury that will be randomly selected from the audience that evening. The participants will play their roles but the jury verdict will not be scripted. The trial will be followed by a brief panel discussion by the main actors in the play and a factual upbeat power point presentation by Frances Hamm of the Longhorns Against Drunk Driving program. Hamm will demonstrate that most university students understand the dangers of drunk driving and that the real peer pressure is not to commit such a crime.
The message aimed at the students at the universities is that DWI charges, even when an injury or death is not involved, can carry severe consequences that can include significant financial impact on the perpetrator and the loss of his/her driver’s license for an extended period. For many students, the money that will have to be spent defending their cases and paying the related fines and probationary costs upon conviction will make the difference in whether or not they can afford to stay in school.
For additional information, contact Raymond Schiflett, director of Legal Services for Students at UT Austin, (512) 471-7796.