HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - In the first 11 days of this year, court records show 11 people have already picked up their second DWI charge and judges are doing nothing to stop them from driving.
"Harris County has always been given the reputation, and actually well deserved, as the DWI capital of the world," said Andy Kahan with Crimestoppers.
That dubious distinction will remain as long as the revolving door at the courthouse keeps releasing DWI defendants.
"DWI becomes a felony, when a person who already had two prior convictions for DWI, picks up another DWI," said former prosecutor Julian Ramirez.
But if a drunk driver has just one conviction under his belt, every time he's arrested and charged with DWI, it remains a misdemeanor.
"Every subsequent DWI will be considered a DWI second until they've been convicted a second time for DWI," Ramirez said.
According to court records in 2021, more than 246 people in Harris County were out on bond for two or more DWI charges.
"You're pretty much sending a signal, 'Hey judge, I'm not going to abide by any of the conditions you put on me plain and simple. I'm going to keep driving and drinking and that's pretty obvious with what we are showing tonight," Kahan said.
31-year-old Angel Jones has eight prior felony convictions and 10 misdemeanor convictions.
"He's out on 9 bonds in 2021," said Kahan.
Six of the bonds are felony bonds granted by 180th Criminal District Court Judge DaSean Jones.
"Then you also have three DWIs in one year," said Kahan. "He is a one-man crime spree wrecking crew."
Last month, Angel Jones became a wanted fugitive after failing to appear in court. He was recently arrested for felon in possession of a weapon.
He's scheduled to appear in the 180th on Wednesday,
44-year-old Jeffery Davidson has nine convictions in Galveston County for driving with a suspended license. Last year, he was charged four times with DWI, three in Harris County and once in Galveston County.
"Sooner or later, the fear is the individual will get into an accident and kill somebody," Ramirez said.