ST. LOUIS – Almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes every single day. Beyond the unimaginable pain and loss is the driver who caused the accident.
St. Louis-based criminal defense attorney Travis Noble has tried over 200 DWI cases in 21 years, earning non-guilty pleas on most, including 44 of out of his last 50 trials. Noble said right or wrong, everyone deserves a defense.
“I’m not an advocate for people to drink and drive,” he said. “I’m advocating that if we let people arrest somebody for drunk driving then they have to do it right so innocent people aren’t charged.”
Noble has represented many who have killed others in crashes and been charged with DWI.
“It just seems to be a crime that is looked upon as if you pay money then you can get out of it,” said Meghan Carter, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Missouri.
She said while the 2018 numbers are not out yet; but in 2017, 244 people lost lives in Missouri due to impaired driving.
“Working directly with victims, we see the pain and agony of their loss,” Carter said. “When they’re thrown into the criminal justice system and feel re-victimized that’s what tears us apart.”
One of those victims is Deborah Weinstein. A female drunk driver killer her 30-year-old son on May 11, 2011.
“I’m angry but more sad than angry. I have forgiven her,” Weinstein said. “I do believe people deserve a defense but there should be a punishment involved.”
Has anyone of Noble’s clients ever killed anyone on the road after he’s represented them in court?
“Luckily, no! I haven’t had that circumstance,” he said.
But for people like Weinstein, who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers, their pain never goes away.
Noble said he understands people’s frustration with him because of his clients but believes he serves an important purpose.
“If their loved one was charged with a crime and they didn’t think they did it, would they not want someone to advocate for them?” he said.
Noble, who was a police officer for 10 years before becoming an attorney, said he supports MADD for their work and getting legislatures to make drunk driving a serious crime. He also teaches police officers free of charge to help them better handle their DWI cases.
“This is what I do in court. This is how I’m coming after you. These are the things you can do to ensure that you do a proper case, correct procedures, and the person you are arresting is truly intoxicated or impaired,” Noble said.
If a drunk driver ever hurt one of Noble’s children, he said he’d want the responding officer to do their job correctly. Which would ensure the person arrested was properly punished for the crime.