Drunk Driving & Texas Criminal Law

Across the United States, driving drunk or drugged is illegal, with each state having specific laws defining the assaults and its associated penalties. Under the laws of the state of Texas, being high on drugs or alcohol and driving is a felony that can have serious repercussions. With the authorities actively on the lookout for perpetrators of the stipulated statutes, several people do not know that they can be locked up even after few glasses of wine. In some cases, one may be arrested even when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below that which the Law defines as “intoxicated.”

What is driving with influence?

In Texas, the general DWI law is found in the Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49, under which the statute defines the term “intoxicated” in two distinct ways:

  • Not having the normal use of your mental and physical faculties due to the consumption of drugs; and/or
  • Having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more.

For certain classes of drivers, the blood alcohol concentration is lower. For example, if you are under 21, you are prohibited to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, and driving commercial vehicles are subject to a legal limit .04 percent.

Intoxication evidence

When one is suspected to be on drugs or alcohol and is pulled over, enforcement officers can use a variety of ideas to identify use of drugs either in their blood or urine.  Blood alcohol concentration above the required cap is not necessary to accuse someone of drinking with influence; but rather get the cause indicating that you are drunk is enough for an officer to arrest you.

Among the kinds of observations, an officer can consider as to whether you are under influence is through looking at the driver’s appearance and behavior, the presence or odor of alcohol, and the driver’s performance on a variety of field sobriety tests.

Understanding your drinking with influence penalties

Texas penalties of drinking with influence are based on different factors among them age, license type, and other circumstances (such as having other passengers in the vehicle, or horrific events such as death).

Common penalties on drinking with influence you can expect include:

  • Fines and surcharges (also tack on court costs and lawyer fees)
  • Community service.
  • Imprisonment (even for a 1st offense).
  • License suspension or revocation.
  • Education and intervention programs on drinking with influence
  • More expensive car insurance, depending on your provider.

DWI penalties

What Happens in case You’re Stopped

There was a time early last year when James, who is one of my friends, was stopped in Northridge Los Angeles, but he didn’t pull over and he decided to over-speed past the police. This escalated to a police chase fiasco after which he was apprehended and charged with several offenses including risking other motorists’ lives and drunk driving. That saw him pay several fines and his license suspended for one year. James also ended up serving a six months jail term.

If you’re stopped, be ready to show your permit, proof of insurance and registration details of the vehicle. However, on refusal to take a blood or breath test, your license will be automatically suspended for 180 days.

Punishment varies depending on the number of convictions under drinking with influence:

First Offense

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Three days to 180 days in jail
  • Losing your driving license up to a year
  • Annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 to retain your license

Second Offense

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • One month to a year in jail
  • Losing you permit up to two years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 up to the third year to retain license

Third Offense

  • A $10,000 fine
  • Two to ten years in prison
  • Loss of license up to two years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 up to the third year to retain your license

DWI with a Child Passenger

You can be charged with child endangerment for if you’re carrying passengers of below 15 of age. Driving with influence with a child passenger is punishable by:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Up to two years in a state jail
  • Loss of your license for 180 days

Minors and DWI

Like many States, Texas has a Zero Tolerance Law for juveniles in relation to alcohol this means, people younger than 21, can’t operate automobiles with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems.

For a 1st offense, you face:

  • License suspension not to exceed one year.
  • Up to a $500 fine.
  • An Alcohol Education Program at least 12 hours long.
  • An additional 180 days of license suspension in case you don’t complete the Alcohol Education program.
  • 90 days of license suspension in case your judge gives you community service. You’ll also have an ignition interlock device.

Commercial transportation and DWI

The Federal auto Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that an individual driving and operating a public automobile with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04% and above is considered to be under the influence while driving.

If you’re a commercial driver license holder and you either refuse a chemical test or take one and have a blood alcohol concentration of

  • 0.04% in your public vehicle
  • 0.08% or higher in any vehicle

Then your commercial driver permit is suspended for a year with a penalty of three years in case the vehicle is published for dangerous materials.

Other extreme crimes involving drinking with influence include assault and manslaughter under influence.

For first time offenders, they are put on probation while required to attend an education program about drinking with influence. For repeat offenders, one is supposed to undergo the intervention program whereas juveniles convicted of DWI, they undergo a special alcohol intervention program for minors. After two or more convictions on drinking with influence in five years, you must install a special ignition switch that prevents your automobile from being operated in case you’ve been drinking. To stay safe, don’t drive under influence or be designate. You can always call a cab. Moreover, where possible, spend the night where you are.

99 Year Jail Sentence for Man Nabbed with Meth

In one shocking ruling last week, the Judge of a Texas court handed a brutal 99-year jail term to a man arrested with just 3 grams of Meth. It is unclear whether he is going to appeal the sentence or not. It is believed that his criminal history played a role in his lengthy jail term. Attorney Jackson F. Gorski, a top drug crimes lawyer in Austin, feels the defendant “might” be able to appeals his sentence due to the harsh nature of the prison term.

Meth producing paraphernalia was found in his house

Back in 2014, a SWAT team stormed into Darryl’s house in the east Texas town of Palestine while on a no-knock search warrant. It didn’t take them plenty of search efforts to stumble on meth producing paraphernalia including pipes still dangling from a nightstand and 3.41 grams of ready to use meth. Alongside him lay a set of digital weighing scales, his phone, small baggies and another thing that wasn’t supposed to be there: his parole monitoring dock station.

The police went through his phone to dig for evidence and found downloaded texts with information on meth sales. A former sergeant from Anderson County Sheriff’s office testified against him.

Mr. Wayne had a criminal history

It could have been outlandish to send Wayne in jail for a century over 3 grams of Meth. However, it has been found out that the convict had quite a lengthy criminal history with some offenses dating as far back as 1992. According to KYTX-TV, a CBS affiliated channel, Mr. Wayne has been in prison multiple times resulting from convictions on four offenses in six felony arrests since 1992. All the felony cases were booked in Anderson County. To make it worse, he had a pending drug charge at the time of his arrest in 2014 hence the parole monitor found with him.

As a result, the jury’s view of him was that of a habitual offender who deserved a much harsher sentence. Normally, possession of a controlled substance will earn you 2 – 25 years in jail according to TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice). Being in drug possession and having the intention to distribute the controlled substance to another party is considered to be a second-degree felony and can take you closer to the 25 years jail term mark.

For Mr. Wayne’s case, the fact that he tried to enhance the meth made him competent enough to stand for the first-degree felony charge which is eligible for a jail term spanning between 25 and 99 years. Being a habitual offender left the judge with no other option but hand him the topmost mark. Though he is allowed to appeal, he’s considered to be slightly lucky because the 99-year sentence is way very close to life imprisonment.

The state of Texas has done this before

This is not the first time a Texan court has handed a devastating sentence to a serial drug offender. In a similar case in 2017, a man from Dickinson was handed a 99 years sentence after being found with just 7 pills of meth weighing 1.18 grams. Sadly, it was a 10th felony and a 6th drug-related conviction in his name.

Choosing the Best Car Accident Lawyer

Accidents can occur at any time and place, and when they do, hiring a personal injury lawyer is something you just can’t afford to ignore. It could be that you were injured in a car accident, or any other kind of accident, which can be a traumatizing time, hence the need of some help to help you go through the period.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer has various reasons as well as advantages, which is why you need to hire the best. You want someone that will be successful with your case, or your efforts will be wasted. There being many personal injury lawyers in Texas, finding the right one can seem daunting if you do not know what you are looking for. That is the reason as to why you need to consider the following tips so as to select the perfect lawyer to defend you in Texas:

Friends & family Might Refer An Attorney

Your friends and family are a wealth of knowledge in a variety of subjects. Take the opportunity to see if any of them has recommendations for a Houston personal injury lawyer that would be best for your case. You might realize that you know someone who is familiar with just the perfect person. This could save you a lot of time in your search. After all, there is nothing you trust quite as much as the word of those you know well.

Check Education & Credentials

When it comes to choosing a professional, you want to take a look at their education. The amount of time they spent learning at their law school, where they received their degree and any extra activities they participated in during schooling will all show you exactly what you can expect from them. You want to know that you are choosing the best person for the job. It is important to know that they took their education very seriously which is why you might need to take a look at their educational history.

Consider an Experienced Texas Lawyer

Even with a good quality education, you still need someone with a solid experience. Yes, it is true that everyone starts somewhere. However, you do not want an amateur to be the one defending you in such a sensitive case, since the outcomes might be frustrating. Therefore, consider consulting the lawyer so that you can ask them how much experience they have working on a case like yours. It should be a field that they work in regularly. They should know the laws well and be able to handle the case efficiently. You might need to review some of the cases they have dealt with so that you get a rough idea of what you expect in your case.

Choose a Winner in Harris County

Along with a high level of experience, you need to choose an attorney with a consistent winning record. All the experience in the world is not helpful if they cannot win the case. So as you talk with potential candidates you should ask about their record. See how many cases they win on average in Harris County, TX courtrooms. Their record should speak volumes about them and is often considered more important than education and experience combined.

Consider Affordability

Obviously, choosing a personal injury lawyer in Houston will come down to affordability. Every attorney charges a bit differently. When you are researching potential candidates you should inquire about what their percentages is. Often, with this type of case the lawyer will take a percentage of the settlement. But be cautious. You want the percentage to be fair. Call around and get a general idea of what people are charging to make sure that the person you select is not charging an enormous amount. However, you might need to be a bit lenient with the budget you set aside for such a situation, since a highly qualified lawyer might be a bit costly, but with higher chances of success.

Take into account the payment approach

When you check into the fees, you also want to consider how the attorney will get paid. Since they likely take a portion of the settlement, they probably only get paid when they win. However, some lawyers expect a fee upfront to cover expenses. You should determine this before you hire someone.

Location and ease of reach

This is one of the final considerations to take care of, since you don’t want to deal with a lawyer whom you can’t access easily. The reason as to why you need to have ease of access to your lawyer, is because you might need to consult them many times before your case is heard. This makes communication easy, as well as pre-planning, which is vital for a win. The best thing would be to have a lawyer from a location near to yours, if not the same.

In conclusion, hiring a personal injury lawyer may be a necessity, but it does not have to be a headache. With the above tips, you will be in a position to make a more favorable choice. Do not make rash decisions just because the situation is pressuring you. Take your time, so that you get the best defense, which assures you of winning the case.

Criminal Charges are Serious Business

Get arrested in Texas for a felony offense and you’ll need someone in your corner that knows how to stand up to the criminal justice system in order to stand a chance of coming out of court without jail time and a criminal record that won’t serve any possible good in your life.

In Houston, there are a number of good criminal defense attorneys ready, able, and willing to help you beat, or at least put up a reasonable defense, to a criminal charge.

A friend of mine, who claimed to have a certain disdain for attorneys, ending up attempting to represent himself in the court of law and was literally crucified by opposing counsel. Don’t be silly, always seek the help of a qualified attorney when facing criminal charges.