Articles Posted in DWI

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DWI Attorney
Today, I spoke with a client that suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and is charged with DWI or driving while intoxicated.  For those of you who don’t know what multiple sclerosis is, MS is a disabling disease of the central nervous system which consists of your brain and spinal cord.  The disease attacks the protective covering around your nerve fibers.  Think of the plastic covering on copper wire.  The comparable covering on your nerves is called myelin.  MS attacks the myelin and causes communication problems between your central nervous system and the rest of your body.  The damage can become so severe that a patient can have problems walking and later may not be able to walk at all.  Is this the first client I have had that has been charged with DWI when they have not been drinking?  No.  I’ve had multiple clients charged with driving while intoxicated when they are suffering from a disease of the nervous system and have not been drinking at all and have not taken any medication. So, what are the consequences?

If you don’t already know, Texas is one of the harshest states in the nation when it comes to being charged with DWI and the consequences of the arrest.  Folks, we are not just talking about the fines and court costs.  The aftermath of a DWI conviction in Montgomery, Harris, or Walker County can be far reaching and life altering.  Most people have no idea how much it costs overall to be charged with DWI.

First off, your car is usually towed at your expense.  When you are arrested your car is left behind to be towed and impounded by a local company.  This system is not regulated and there are companies that will really take advantage of you.  I’ve seen towing and impound fees start at around $300 and go to upwards of $600.  This is what you are required to pay even if you are innocent and are later found to be not guilty or the charges are dismissed.

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Montgomery County Lawyer
In the James Bond as 007 movie A View to a Kill, Christopher Walken plays the evil villain Max Zorin who poses as a wealthy race horse breeder. Playing the part of James Bond, Roger Moore drops into Zorin’s palatial estate under the guise of securing a horse for breeding. Bond’s disguise is that of a James St. John Smythe. Smythe sits down across the desk from Zorin and his face is analyzed by a secret camera which discovers Smythe is really 007, licensed to kill. In 1986 this technology was pure science fiction; today facial recognition is science fact.

The new Apple Face ID program initiates every time you glance at your new IPhone X. The top of the line new iPhone contains an infra-red camera, a flood illuminator, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a microphone, a front camera, and a dot projector which all collect and store your personal information in your phone. The process begins with what they call a flood illuminator that lights up your face. Even in the dark. Then, there is an infra-red camera that takes an infra-red picture of your face. The camera dot projector then pushes out over 30,000 invisible IR dots that track every topographical feature of your face. Apple then pushes this data through what they call a neural network to create a mathematical model of your face. Didn’t the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator also have a neural network? I digress, the mathematical model is then checked against your model that has been stored in your phone to see if it is your face looking at your phone. If it’s a match it will unlock your phone. The phone even learns. If you wear glasses or grow a beard, the phone is still supposed to be able to recognize your face. Apple says that all this personal facial data collected is safely stored and encrypted in your device, not on the Apple cloud.

What could possibly go wrong with this technology? Remember the Madrid bombing case back in 2004? 191 people were killed and another 2000 were injured. After the bombing, FBI fingerprint examiners in Quantico, Virginia found a fingerprint on a bag of detonators at the scene of the Spanish bombings. The FBI searched for possible matches to a digital image of the fingerprint. Wait, what else creates digital images of your fingerprint… oh yes, your iPhone. The FBI supercomputer came up with fifteen matches, one of them being a thirty-seven-year-old American lawyer named Brandon Mayfield living in Oregon. Mayfield was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks while being held as a material witness to the Madrid bombings. The FBI eventually released him and gave a rare public apology but the damage was done.

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Marijuana DWI Attorney
NPR and the Wall Street Journal are some of the many news agencies featuring op-ed articles on the problem states and even countries are facing with impaired driving as it relates to marijuana.  Although marijuana is still illegal in Texas at any level, just what constitutes whether or not an individual is impaired, and at what point is the person charged with driving while intoxicated?  These are tough questions but as more states are legalizing cannabis in one form or another it is a problem that needs to be solved and yet may never happen.

In Texas, we have the legal level for alcohol set at a 0.08 BAC.  So, what’s the problem with weed?  Unlike alcohol, drugs like THC do not have a relationship between the levels of the drug in the tissues and what is considered impairment.  To make matters worse, the method of ingestion can also vary the level of impairment.  Our bodies process marijuana differently when we smoke the marijuana versus when the marijuana is eaten as in an edible product.

Some states have enacted a standard of five nanograms or delta-9-THC per milliliter of blood.  Like the Texas law for alcohol in a DWI arrest, a court can find a person is impaired at the five nanogram level for marijuana just as in a 0.08 in an alcohol test.

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Madison County DWI Lawyer
Madison County, Texas

A woman who was arrested for DWI in Madison County, Texas managed to elude police after the arrest.  The woman was involved in a wreck on Old San Antonio road which runs from Midway along the Leon County border toward Brazos County along the northern Madison County Line.  The woman was taken into custody and handcuffed.  However, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the woman was able to move her handcuffs from her back to her front and then jump into the DPS Trooper’s patrol car to flee the scene.  Luckily, a Madison County Sheriff’s Office deputy was on scene investigating the car crash.  The DPS Trooper jumped into the sheriff’s vehicle and chased the woman down Old San Antonio Road.  It appears the trooper fired at his own vehicle and was able to successfully disable the patrol vehicle.

Bridget Cast, 31 of Longview, Texas was arrested on charges of evading arrest, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and driving while intoxicated.  Evading arrest or detention in Texas is when a person intentionally flees from a person he or she knows is a peace officer while the officer is attempting to lawfully arrest or detain him or her.  Evading is a Class A misdemeanor unless the person has been previously convicted or the person uses a vehicle or watercraft to flee.  If the person evades in a vehicle or watercraft and has not been previously convicted, then the offense becomes a state jail felony.  If the person has been previously convicted and flees in a vehicle or watercraft the offense becomes a third-degree felony.  Class A misdemeanors in Texas are punishable by up to a year in jail or a $4,000 fine or both.  A state jail felony is punishable from 180 days to two years in state jail and or a $10,000 fine.  A third-degree felony can land you from 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division and an additional $10,000 fine.

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Montgomery County DWI Attorney
In the wake of more states legalizing the use and possession of marijuana people are scrambling to come up with a definition of what categorizes “driving while high.”  No one favors driving under the influence of marijuana or any other mind-altering drug.  The problem becomes what exactly is the definition of driving while high and how do we test for it?

In Texas, if you are pulled over by law enforcement due to some overt cause such as weaving or erratic driving, the officer is going to suspect something is up.  Currently, law enforcement uses field sobriety tests.  The problem is that the equipment law enforcement uses to check for alcohol like a breathalyzer does not work for impairment by other drugs, specifically not for marijuana or THC.  The only real solution at this point is to take the driver to the police station or hospital and draw blood.

Once police have the blood they can send it off to a lab to test if the person has marijuana in their system.  But there are no legal limits in most states including Texas.  Some states have set a standard at the limit of .5 milligrams of THC (the intoxicating substance in marijuana) per milliliter of blood.

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Texas DWI Lawyer
A new Texas bill that gives low level criminal offenders in Texas a second chance needs only to return to the house and then be signed by the governor.  The Texas House of Representatives passed the “Second Chance” bill 140-0.  Now, the bill has moved through the Texas Senate 28-3.  The bill would allow criminal offenders without previous convictions to protect their criminal history from disclosure to the public.

In Texas, we have only two crimes in which you cannot receive a deferred sentence.  Capital murder and driving while intoxicated.  Therefore, you can be charged with an offense like sexual assault and still get a deferred sentence and keep it off your record.  Not so with DWI.  The law used to allow for a DWI to fall off your record after ten years.  Not so anymore.  So, say you pick up a DWI in college, what can you do to get it off your record?  I get this question all the time.  Until now, the answer was “nothing.” The client will say, but that happened twenty years ago, why is it still haunting me?  Simple, up until recently a DWI conviction stayed on your record for life.

The new proposed section is 411.0736 which currently reads: “procedure for conviction; certain driving while intoxicated convictions.  What the bill states is that if you complete your sentence, including any term of confinement imposed and the payment of all fines, costs, and restitution imposed, may petition the court that imposed the sentence for an order of non-disclosure of criminal history records information under this section if the person:

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Criminal Defense Attorney
The federal government knows what is best for you.  Your government tries to control you by legislating penalties for not doing what Big Brother wants you to do.  To limit your behavior, your government has levied steep taxes on items such as cigarettes, other tobacco products, even soft drinks.  Currently, in Austin, your Texas legislators are trying to pass a law banning all text messaging while driving.  And on the national level, the federal government is trying to take away your right to split a bottle of wine at dinner or to have a few beers at the ball game.

For years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has pushed to lower the legal limit in drunk driving cases to .05.  The current level in Texas is .08.  If you have seen the movie “Sully,” you know the NTSB as the villains in the film calling for Captain Sullenberger’s head.  Okay, that’s Hollywood, but the truth of the matter is that there just aren’t enough plane and train accidents to justify the budget of the NTSB.  What does your government do when it tries to justify its existence?  Your government uses fear tactics to make itself relevant.  Bad things are happening, we must act.  Wake up citizen, I’m your government, you need me, listen to me.  These tactics are getting tiresome. 

In Utah, state legislators are already pushing for the .05 limit.  How does that affect us in Montgomery, Walker, Madison, and Leon County, Texas?  Because Utah was the first state to lower the legal limit in drunk driving to .08.  The old standard was .10.  Truth be told, the field sobriety tests that law enforcement uses to arrest you in a DWI stop were based on the old .15 standard.  Yep, the standard started at .15 for impairment.  But why drop the limit?  Simple, taxes.  Your government wants more money.  The penalties on a first DWI in Texas start at $1000 a year for three years and climb from there.  But what say you, groups against drunk driving?

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Montgomery County Attorney
It was a rough week for law enforcement officials in Texas.  In San Antonio, three local law enforcement officers were arrested on Thursday night within hours of each other.  Police officers Gena Rodriguez and Harold Thomaston were both arrested for driving while intoxicated.  San Antonio Police Chief William McManus was quoted with saying, “Anytime an officer gets arrested for anything it’s disappointing, but DWI is just so preventable and there is no excuse for it.”

Rodriguez was an eleven-year veteran who was driving with her three children in the vehicle when she crashed into another car.  Police officers on the scene stated that Rodriguez was slurring her speech, was unsteady on her feet, and smelled like alcohol.  Later that night police veteran Harold Thomaston was also pulled over for driving while intoxicated.  Police say that Thomaston swerved into the lane of another police officer and then ran a red light.  Chief McManus stated, “SAPD officers were arrested by SAPD officers, so absolutely not, they are not held to a different standard, they are held to a higher standard.”

Bexar County Deputy Sabrina Moreno was also arrested Thursday night for DWI.  Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said, “I am furious, there is no other way to put it, I am just furious.”

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Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney
So, what is the Intoxilyzer 9000?  This is a new breath test device that is being transitioned into use in Texas.  This new unit will eventually replace the decades old Intoxilyzer 5000.  The new device will be used in the prosecution of drunk driving cases.  However, as the machine is new and being transitioned in, it is still plagued with problems including software issues and bugs.  Clearly, this is cause for concern as it may lead to wrongful convictions for DWI.

It works like this.  Say you are arrested for suspicion of drunk driving in Walker, Harris, or Montgomery Counties.  Typically, the arresting officer will ask you if you wish to provide a breath or blood sample.  On a first offense, the penalty for refusal of one of the two tests will result in a 180 day Texas driver’s license suspension versus a ninety-day suspension for those that comply.  Lately, most officers have opted for blood over breath due to the problems with the old Intoxilyzer machines.  By the way, it’s the officer’s choice not yours as to the breath or blood election.  Many people are confused by this distinction.  People say, I offered to give breath in lieu of blood because I am afraid of needles.  Too bad, that’s considered a refusal.

In Georgia, the new Intoxilzer 9000 recorded seventy-four tests in the first two month in one area.  Of the seventy-four tests, fifty-one of the tests generated error messages.  In other words, a brand-new machine was wrong almost seventy percent of the time.  When you are prosecuting someone for DWI or any other crime for that matter, any error is unacceptable.

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Montgomery County DWI Lawyer
Recently, a friend asked me about a newfangled anti-DWI device that he had heard about.  What is it?  What does it do?  The device is called an ignition interlock.  They’ve actually been around for a while now.  Of course, it’s been headline news due to the recent case that went viral.  The case involved a thirty-six-year-old woman that was charged with DWI.  What made the case unusual was her use of the device. She had the device in her car as a condition of probation.  The problem was that she was still driving around drunk.  But instead of her blowing in the device, she was having her eight-year-old daughter blow into the device.  The plan didn’t work out very well as she crashed her vehicle and was charged with another driving while intoxicated offense.  It was not a Texas case.  Here, if you are caught driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle you are charged with a felony.  So, what is this anti-DWI device?

A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) or Ignition Interlock is a machine that keeps you from starting your vehicle if you have been drinking alcoholic beverages.  The contraption is usually set to a minimum level that blocks the vehicle’s ignition system upon a positive test.  Usually, the device is set to a minimum BAC (blood alcohol content) of .02.  It is essentially technology that integrates breath alcohol detection to the vehicle’s start mechanism.  When you enter your vehicle, you are to blow into the device before the vehicle can be started.  If you blow over the .02, the vehicle will not start.  Typically, there is also an on-board device that logs the event and other data.  Some integrate a camera as well to make sure the correct individual is blowing into the device.  The readings are then forwarded to the court and probation personnel in charge of your probation.

In theory, the device is designed to prevent and deter convicted DWI offenders from once again driving under the influence of alcohol.  Here in Texas, if you are convicted of DWI and have a BAC of over .15 then you may be required to have the device in your vehicle for at least half the term of your probation.  Many judges are now making offenders keep the device in their car throughout the entire term of their probation.  You are also required to have the device in your vehicle upon your second conviction for DWI in Texas.