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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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Conroe Personal Injury Lawyer
May is here and it’s National Bike Month.  Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, it is a tradition that has been celebrated throughout the United States since 1956.  In Harris and Montgomery Counties, the dates are listed below for the events.  Nationally, the third week of the month is designated as Bike to Work Week.  Bike to Work Day is designated the third Friday in May.

In celebration of National Bike Month, Ron Voyles & Associates encourages you to give biking a try.  It’s a perfect time to dust off that old bike, air up the tires, and take a spin.  In addition, we would like to inspire motorists to keep a watchful eye out for bicyclists on the road.  Educate yourself on the dangers of distracted driving, texting and the direct effect on cyclist injuries and fatalities.  When it comes to car and truck crashes, cycling injuries, and deaths, both sides (motorists and cyclists) like to point the finger at the other group.  We both share the blame.  In the Houston, Conroe, Huntsville, and surrounding communities we have hundreds of thousands of drivers and thousands of cyclists on the road every day.  Making sure everyone knows the rules of the road can go a long way toward reducing the number of injuries suffered each year.  In the Houston area alone, we’ve had twenty-three bike riders killed in the last five years.

I typically avoid cycling on the road.  Why?  Montgomery and Walker Counties are still rural with only two lane roads in many places.  Many roads like Longmire in Conroe have no shoulder.  Therefore, the space between you and the vehicles is slim.  Your margin for error is narrow.  To further the problem, we live in Texas.  It’s hot.  Therefore, riding early in the morning is necessary.  It’s dark.  It’s foggy.  It’s early and drivers are not paying attention.  In a bicycle-vehicle crash, the bike is going to lose.  So, what can you do?  Bike responsibly. 

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Conroe Assault Lawyer
An Australian tourist from Perth was charged last week with simple assault.  The crime occurred at a strip club in Orlando, Florida.  At the time the news story broke, the Australian was being held in jail while awaiting a bail hearing.  The story involves this young man “assaulting” a female employee of the club (stripper) by blowing dirt in the dancer’s face while she was performing a lap dance.  The dancer declined to be interviewed.  Shocking, I know.  However, the club’s assistant manager did decide to opine about this event.  “We generally don’t get a lot of troublemakers at our club,” and he stressed that they had not had a patron assault a dancer in years.  Whew, that’s good to know.  “We don’t know what this Aussie guy’s problem was, but he won’t be welcome back here again.”  Right, I’m sure there is a serious vetting procedure for screening drunks entering a strip club.  I’d like to know who they’re turning away.

In Texas, the offense of assault is defined in the Penal Code as:

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

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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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Conroe Pesonal Injury Lawyer
You may be one of the thousands of drivers in the Houston area that is a safe driver.  You don’t text while driving.  You don’t drink and drive, and you have never had a DWI.  When you do drink, you are responsible and get a designated driver or call Uber.  You may even have a spotless driving record and have never had so much as a traffic ticket.  Your behavior should be applauded.  You are one of the ones that keep our roads safe.  Sadly, not everyone follows this behavior on our Texas roads.  Bad things happen to good people.  So, what do you do when you get blindsided by a negligent motorist?  Believe it or not, most people who call our office simply do not know what to do when they are involved in an accident.  Be prepared and know what to do before you are in an auto or truck accident.

In the event of a car accident follow these simple steps:

  1. Stop and render aid. Nothing is more important than the welfare of everyone in the accident, including your own. Did you hit your head?  Look around and check your surroundings.  Is someone else hurt?  Don’t assume any injury is too small.  You may be in shock and may have more trauma than you think.
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Montgomery County Controlled Substance Lawyer
In a monumental decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled that a citizen can sue for malicious prosecution for being jailed due to the police falsifying drug test results.

In Joliet, Illinois, police stopped Elijah Manuel for a traffic violation.  Manuel was subsequently searched. Law enforcement officers located a vitamin bottle containing several pills.  The police suspected that the vitamins were illegal drugs and decided to perform a field test on the substance.  The field test came back negative for any illegal or controlled substance.  Nevertheless, the police decided to go ahead and arrest Mr. Manuel and charge him with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.  Manuel was taken to the police station.  At the station an evidence technician tested the pills again and received the same negative result.  However, in his report he stated that one of the pills tested, “positive for the probable presence of ecstasy.”  One of the arresting officers stated in his report that, based on his “training and experience,” he “knew the pills to be ecstasy.”

Ecstasy or “Molly,” or MDMA is a synthetic drug that can alter your mood and your perception.  The chemical formula is similar to both stimulant and hallucinogenic drugs.  MDMA and its derivatives can produce distorted time and sensory perception, excessive emotional warmth, and feelings increased energy and pleasure.  The drug achieves these effects by altering the levels or dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  The effect of the drug can last anywhere from three to six hours.

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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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Tampering with Evidence
An interesting opinion was just released from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  For those of you that don’t know, this is the highest court in the State of Texas that rules on criminal matters. The case is State v. Zuniga.  Zuniga was allegedly pulled over right in front of her own house for running a stop sign.  We assume the officer saw a bottle of prescription medication in plain view and Zuniga was not able to show a valid prescription.  In Texas, if the officer sees something in plain view that he believes is illegal, then he is going to be able to search the vehicle.  While handcuffed in the back of the police car, Zuniga moved her hands to her side, reached into her crotch area, and pulled something out with her hands cupped.  All this because supposedly, she knows the officer is watching her.  Seems more than a little odd, doesn’t it?    Next, she moves her hands toward her mouth, moves her head down, and apparently, the officer thinks she swallowed something.  What is this Ms. Houdini?

The officer then took Zuniga to the hospital where x-rays were performed and her stomach was pumped.  The hospital officials did not find any illegal substance nor a baggie that may have contained something.  Of note, the State of Texas didn’t test the defendant’s blood for any illegal substance or had the lab perform an analyses the contents of Ms. Zuniga’s stomach.

Ms. Zuniga was indicted for the Texas felony charge of tampering with physical evidence.  This offense is defined in the Texas Penal Code as:

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Leon County Attorney

In other news, we have an Amazon Echo update.  You may recall my recent article about the Amazon Echo device spying on you and your family.  A recent out of state case involved a young man’s roommate found dead in a hot tub.  The prosecutors on the case were trying to get any recorded evidence that that Echo device may have picked up on the evening in question.  Amazon fought requests from the prosecutors to hand over the audio evidence citing that the information was protected by customer privacy rights and the First Amendment.  The defendant in this matter maintains his innocence but has struck a deal with the state and has allowed Amazon to hand over the evidence.  I guess we must wait for someone else to fight this battle as the Echo device continues learn, develop, and be used for greater tasks every day.  Is your Echo spying on you?  I know that you can change the activation on your Echo from “Alexa” to “Computer.”  I wonder if it responds to Barack?

Ron Voyles is an attorney and a chiropractor with over twenty years of experience in the litigation of personal injury and the defense of drug and alcohol crimes.  Ron practices in Montgomery, Harris, Walker, Grimes, Madison, and Leon Counties.

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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.