Juan Manuel Garza was sentenced to an 18-month probation on May 10 after a jury convicted him of unlawfully carrying a weapon and driving while intoxicated.
The 26-year-old Houston man was arrested in October of 2016 after a motorist reported finding Garza passed out in a moving lane of traffic.
According to Assistant District Attorney Tristyl McInnis, a motorist saw the defendant passed out in his vehicle at a traffic light at FM 1092 and West Airport in Stafford around 11 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2016. The driver called 911 and officers arrived to find Garza in a nearby restaurant parking lot. During the investigation, the defendant refused to cooperate with officers’ requests to perform the standardized field sobriety tests and to provide a breath sample. Stafford Police Officer John Butler conducted the investigation resulting in Garza’s arrest for DWI. After admitting he had a handgun in the vehicle, Garza was also charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon.
In her closing argument, McInnis told the jury, “This defendant has been hiding. He hid his actions from the 911 caller and he hid his inability to drive safely from the officers. Show this defendant he can no longer hide.”
Despite the lack of a blood alcohol level, the jury found Garza guilty of driving while intoxicated in addition to the weapons charge. Garza was tried in county Court at Law No. 2 before Presiding Judge Jeffrey McMeans. Unlawfully carrying a weapon is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000. Driving while intoxicated in this case is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. Garza must pay a $600 fine and complete DWI education classes as part of his probation. He also forfeited his weapon.
Assistant district attorneys McInnis and Drew Kwartler prosecuted the case. Attorney Matthew Sharp represented the defendant.