Articles Tagged with dwi

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In a recent DWI trial here in Conroe, Texas where the jury made the right decision and found my client not guilty, I was reminded of a previous blog. In Three Questions to Ask your DWI Lawyer I explored the concept of asking, “What is your experience with the NHTSA manual?” instead of “What’d my video show?” The acquittal in this recent DWI trial would not have been possible without an intimate knowledge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual. With this in mind it’s worth revisiting and diving further into the importance of the NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) manual and the SFSTs.

The NHTSA DWI manual is the bible for law enforcement in alcohol related driving offenses. It delineates the proper policies and procedures in administering the SFSTs. Defense Counsel must be familiar with those investigative techniques to ensure that law enforcement administers them correctly. If one cannot identify if they’re administered correctly, then they can’t identify if they’re administered incorrectly and attack them in trial. In short, if you know what law enforcement is supposed to be doing better than they do you’re better suited to find issues that can benefit the accused. Some potential issues include an individual who is not an ideal candidate for the tests being encouraged to perform, invalid clues being counted as signs of intoxication, failing to eliminate other causes of poor performance or bizarre behaviors.

Keep in mind, these tests are not designed to help or exonerate you. No irrefutable objective science supports the “evidence” gathered by these assessments and through its criteria to prove intoxication. “Validation studies” conducted approximately 30 years ago contribute to the substantiation of this investigative tool. However, the tests themselves and the performances are largely interpreted through subjective belief; the subjective belief of the officer.  The officer observes the clues and tallies the score to determine if the person is intoxicated. For the divided attention tests, the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand, an officer only needs to observe two clues before they believe you are intoxicated. But several problems with these so-called clues can arise simply from the way the officer instructs the test. A clue of intoxication according to these tests is “starts too soon.” Many law enforcement agents fail to advise individuals suspected of DWI that this counts against them. Instead of saying, “Stay on this line until I tell you to start. If you start before I tell you, that is a clue that you’re intoxicated.” Most accused of a crime are nervous, eager to please, and more eager to conclude the investigation. So once given instructions, they want to get started to get it over it with more quickly. Starting too soon should not be a sign of intoxication, but by the criteria of this test it is.

Arrest Does Not Equal Guilt

July 22nd a Montgomery County Judge signed the dismissals on all charges against former University of Houston player and Buffalo Bills’s current defensive tackle Ed Oliver. On or about May 16, 2020, Oliver was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated and Unlawful Carry of Weapon. Oliver complied with officers’ requests to complete the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) as seen below.

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Three Questions to Ask your DWI Lawyer

So, you’ve been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Montgomery County. The encounter with law enforcement, the ride to the jail, the booking process – each step more embarrassing and frustrating than the first. Now, it’s time to fight the case. You need to find a lawyer, but you’ve never been in trouble before – let alone for DWI. This process should not be complicated or frustrating, but how do you know you’re in the right hands? What do you ask your DWI lawyer before hiring them? This article is meant to provide some suggestions. If you already have a lawyer though, this article is still for you. These are some questions you can ask other than, “What’s going on with my case?”

Instead of: “What’d my video show?” Ask: “What is your experience with the NHTSA manual?”

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After a couple of months of being shut down, the world prepares to reopen. Texas Governor Abbott announced on April 27th his phases to begin opening the state back up. Today, under Phase 1, many businesses take down the shutters and open their doors at 25% occupancy to restless communities and anxious employees. Montgomery County though, under County Judge Mark Keough’s interpretation of the order, resumes business as usual with more expansive reopenings; this includes bars. If you’re someone who has been counting down the days and have your first day of socializing outfit picked out, be careful.

Since the Natural Disaster Declaration and Stay-At-Home Order, arrest numbers have been down throughout Texas. While the courts have been working diligently to reduce the amount of bail bonds and issue Personal Recognizance Bonds to lower jail populations in an effort to flatten the spread of the virus, law enforcement has seen a drop in incidents of Driving While Intoxicated. Montgomery County specifically, typically strives to be strident in their attacks on DWI. Montgomery County became one of the first Texas counties to participate in the No Refusal Initiative in 2005 that allows mandatory blood draws.

No Refusal Weekends traditionally have been holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween, and the time starting from Thanksgiving through Christmas and ending after New Years Eve. For example from December 21, 2018 through January 1, 2019, Montgomery County law enforcement arrested approximately 146 individuals under the suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The time between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend has been dubbed the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” In 2019, 766 people were arrested for alcohol related offenses during these days.

Montgomery County Probation Isn’t Cancelled Amongst COVID-19

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Court dates in Montgomery County have largely been rescheduled or cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Judges are adapting by using video conferencing applications such as Zoom to address issues related to bond and to take pleas, but downtown Conroe, despite its sizable essential employee status, is a ghost town. This comes as no surprise as Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough extends his stay-at-home order and families cancel birthdays, showers, family reunions, and vacations and replace their party hats with their teacher hats as schools cancel as well. What hasn’t been cancelled though, is Montgomery County probation. Drug testing through Averhealth too has not been cancelled.

Why does that matter? Approximately 60% of criminal cases result in some sort of community supervision. In 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative counted 4.5 million adults per year in the United States on community supervision. About half of the population in county jails are individuals who have violated the conditions of their release.  That’s approximately 350,000 people each year who are jailed for revocations. You’re likely to see a spike in that number as people become more desperate from layoffs, isolation, and pressure from dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 rises. Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has already reported a 35% spike in assault calls.

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