Friday, March 29, 2013

Driving While Intoxicated and the Field Sobriety Tests

If you are pulled over and the police think you are Driving While Intoxicated more often than not they will administer Field Sobriety Tests (FST). There is a lot of controversy surrounding the FST and many experts insist the tests were designed to make anyone fail. If you have had a beer or two over a few hours chances are you are not intoxicated but, you will still have the smell of liquor on your breath. This alone is enough for the police officer to administer the FST.

Let's say he starts the tests with the one legged stand. Have you tried this at home? It isn't easy even in the best of conditions. You are asked to stand on one foot for 30 seconds and keep your hands at your sides. There is the first problem, keeping your hands at your sides while standing on one foot is not the way humans are supposed to stand. Have you ever seen a baby take his or her first few steps? Their arms are out to give them balance. Granted you aren't a baby but, you don't spend your waking hours standing on one foot so yes, you are going to fail.

There are multiple problems with the one-legged stand. Frequently, when some one is pulled over for drinking and driving; it is at night. Is the ground you are standing on level? Its dark, how can you or the officer tell if you are standing on a flat surface? They can't and now you are at a disadvantage. Age and weight come into play during the one-legged test. Older people are not always steady on two feet let alone one. Being overweight can cause problems with balance.

Most of the time these test are administered by the side of the road which creates a very stressful situation. First of all, cars are buzzing by creating a distraction. If an 18 wheeler flies by the draft alone could cause you to lose your balance. You may be nervous. You wonder if anyone you know is watching or what will happen if you have to spend the night in jail. Those circumstances alone will make anyone wobbly.

If you are arrested solely on the grounds that you failed the Field Sobriety Tests, you have the right to contest the findings. A knowledgeable attorney is your best defense.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Driving While Intoxicated Can Cost More Than Just the Initial Fines

Driving while intoxicated is never a good idea but there is more to it than just getting slapped with a fine that you can pay and move on with your life. In fact, being charged with driving while intoxicated can lead to many fees and inconveniences you may not have considered. Although we don't always make the best decisions while intoxicated, there are a few aspects you should learn about first so that you can make better decisions when drinking.

First of all, the law states that you can be facing a minimum of three days in jail and up to 180 days and that is just for your first offense. The initial fines and penalties you are looking at is up to $2,000 on the first offense as long as there is not a child in the car under the age of 15. You may have your license revoked from 90 days to two years and while you may be able to obtain an occupational driver's license (one you can use only for school, work or predesignated special reasons that are approved by the court), you still have to file a formal petition for the license. There is an annual Texas surcharge that will be imposed if you are convicted of DWI  in addition to your suspension, fines and court costs and that ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 per year for three years on a first offense.
You have to also consider things such as community service you may have to perform and if deemed necessary, attendance at AA meetings or even help with alcoholism at a treatment center.

It is important to make the right decisions when drinking but if you do find that you need to fight a DWI charge then we can help. You should speak with someone immediately in order to defend your rights properly. A driving while intoxicated charge can affect your entire life so don't make another wrong decision by not talking to someone who can help.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Houston Police Launch Campaign Against Drunk Driving

It is that time of year again, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in full swing. While attendance numbers are slightly down from last year the event brings plenty of folks to the Houston area. There is something here for everyone; from headliner concerts by artists like Demi Lovato, Blake Shelton and Pit Bull to educational and cultural events. Let’s not forget the most important venues, the livestock shows, horse shows and rodeo action.

It’s a fun time for everyone and gives an economic boost to Harris County businesses. However; it also brings an increase in drunk driving arrests. This year those numbers will probably increase since St. Patrick’s Day and spring break falling during the rodeo.

In response, the Houston Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Division, the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety announced a joint initiative targeting drunk driving. They hope the use of public education and enhanced enforcement of offenses will reduce the number of drunk driving incidents (see the press conference here). As I also suggest, they are urging individuals to make designated driver or alternative transportation arrangements in advance. A DWI arrest can cost you financially and become a terrible burden if you are an out of town visitor. You may have to travel back and forth for court dates and other obligations incurring travel as well as legal fees.

If you plan to visit the rodeo it really is a good time and if you are an out of town visitor, welcome.  But take my advice and that of Texas law enforcement, plan ahead if you plan to drink and you won’t run the risk of ruining your good times.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Defenses for DWI: Defending against an over-the-limit BAC

Most people who are arrested for a DWI think they will automatically be found guilty if their blood/breath results are greater than .08. While this may be possible, there are also some defenses available that could preclude a conviction.

Many times, breathalyzer tests are not administered during a traffic stop. Instead, an officer may take an individual into the police station on suspicion of drunk driving. As such, a defendant could wait more than an hour to take a breathalyzer test.  I routinely have to tell my clients that they are charged with driving while intoxicated not intoxicated while at the police station.

It's a little-known fact that a person's blood alcohol level increases for some time after having their last drink. This could effectively mean that a driver's BAC was below the legal limit when he or she was pulled over, yet rose to above the legal limit after being stopped. When the level registered on a breathalyzer test is at or just slightly above the legal limit, reasonable doubt can come into play if there was a delay in administering the test.

Other times, a breathalyzer machine may give inaccurate results because it is in poor working condition. This equipment needs to be calibrated at least once per year in order for it to produce accurate results. If it is past its service date, this could call the accuracy of any test results into question in a court of law.

Some defenses involve challenging an officer's judgment in stopping a driver in the first place. If law enforcement cannot show probable cause as to why the operator was believed to be intoxicated, the traffic stop could be deemed illegal, which would make the subsequent arrest unauthorized as well.

A DWI defense is never easy; however, those who have been arrested for one of these crimes should know that there are defenses available. The best course of action to take after an arrest should be to contact an experienced DWI attorney.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Driving While Intoxicated Costs You More Than You Think

It is important to always plan how to get home after drinking and to follow through with that plan. If you decide to drink, remember these events and their costs and why it is important to not drive while intoxicated.

In Longview, TX, one man made a terrible mistake of driving while intoxicated. He was arrested and jailed under a $10,000 bail. This does not include costs for any other fines and attorney fees. In this case, no one was injured, but the truth is that many of cases of DWI involve injuries to the driver or innocent people.

In Richmond, TX, a young mother crashed her vehicle with children inside it. Her three year old daughter was ejected through the front windshield. Fortunately, her daughter, the other child, and herself were expected to make full recoveries. Unfortunately, this woman was charged with the felony charge of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger and her bail was set at $15,000. Read this story here.

What could have been worse? The obvious would be for the children to have died from injuries sustained in the wreck. This woman is now forced with a situtation to examine her life and recognize the problem of driving while intoxicated.

Driving while intoxicated can ruin your life. For example, a Fort Worth police officer was fired for having a blood alcohol content of 0.10. That is only 0.02 higher than the legal limit, but he was still fired because of this condition. Read more here.

Drunk driving is a serious offense. Therefore, it is always best to avoid being in the situation of drinking too much and needing to drive home. If you are planning to drink, then plan how to get home if you had too much to drink. Is the cost of cab fare more than fines and fees that you will have to pay after being arrested for a DWI? How about losing your job? What if you injured or killed someone?

If you are planning to drink, what's your plan to get home?