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Celebrity DWI cases sometimes instructive

Texas is a flat-out big and highly populated state. That reality makes it a given that high numbers of individuals are routinely stopped by state troopers and police officers on suspicion of drunk driving. Many of those people are subsequently arrested and convicted on a DWI charge.

Relevant evidence indicates in an instant that DWI-focused police activity does not target any specific group. Rather, news stories from across the state underscore that every conceivable demographic is implicated in behind-the-wheel drinking-related criminal charges.

That is, doctors as well as dispatchers get flagged for roadside stops. The gamut runs from accountants to zoologists.

And it certainly includes entertainers, as a recent story from southeast Texas reveals. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips (perhaps best known for his role as Ritchie Valens in the movie La Bamba) entered a courtroom in Sinton, the county seat of San Patricio County, last week to plead guilty to a DWI charge. Phillips was detained late last year on a roadway near Corpus Christi while en route to the high school where he graduated to deliver a speech.

The actor was reportedly cooperative throughout the encounter, with a spokesperson saying that he "voluntarily took the breathalyzer, submitted to a failed sobriety test, and expressed his remorse." Police say that Phillips' blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

That result can bring varied and onerous penalties, which was clearly the case for Phillips. The actor was given two years of probation and must participate in a DWI education program. Additionally, he must abstain completely from alcohol during his probationary period and regularly report to his probation officer. The actor must also submit to regular alcohol-monitoring checks, and is tasked with paying various fines and penalties.

Phillips opted for a plea deal rather than continuing on to trial, which he was imminently scheduled for.

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