Articles Posted in DWI Laws

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dwi15Well, there’s a new law in town, and the local police and District Attorneys are already pushing it hard. Its a DWI with a breath or blood alcohol level of .15 or more.

The amended text of Penal Code 49.04 reads:

(d) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0/15 or more at the time the analysis was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

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It seems as if the Federal Government is now getting into the mix of deciding what the individual states should and should not be allowed to do to punish first time DWI / DUI offenders.

Today, an article in the USA today explained that the Federal Government has a pending bill that would tie in government funding for roads to the conditions of probation on a  DWI first.  According to the article, if States do not make Ignition Interlock devices a requirement as a condition of probation for DWI 1st. 

device

I’ve always heard that this is how the Government got Louisiana to up their drinking age to 21 . . by tying road funding to it.  But I don’t know if that is true. 

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A new bill proposed in the Senate by Senator Whitmire seems to be the same as that of HB 1906.

The bill deals with lowering the surcharge for someone who successfully completes the DWI/Drug Court program.  As I stated before, this only  helps someone that completes the course, which can be 2 years or more later.  This means that the bill does not really save the person much.  It would be a better bill if the savings were upon entering the DWI court program.  I would even be in support if those savings were only temporary and became permanent after successful completion.  I think that would be a better idea.

 

Below is the text of the entire bill:

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A new House Bill proposed by Representative Coleman affects the surcharges assessed on those convicted of DWI.  Right now, if you are convicted of DWI first, you owe the state $3,000 over 3 years just to keep your driving privledges.

The bill seems to say that the 3,000 is now a maximum surcharge, instead of it being the automatic surcharge.  It would be based now on the "seriousness of the charge, the amount necessary to deter future violations, and an amount that maximizes collection."

I like the idea of this, except it doesnt seem to really say who determines how much the amount is, and why!  Nor does it seem to give you any kind of due process, like a hearing to present to a judge or magistrate why you think your surcharge should be less.  Basically it seems like a proposal with no teeth.

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A third new DWI bill proposed by Representative Guillen deals with the DWI surcharge for those convicted of DWI, but completed the DWI/Drug Court program.  I have spoken about the DWI/Drug Court program in the past.  In Collin County, the only DWI /Drug Court is in Judge Ray Wheless’ County Court #4.

This bill would allow the surcharge to be reduced by up to 80%.  Right now, anyone convicted of DWI 1st must pay 3,000 to the state over three years.  If you are convicted of DWI 2nd, it is 4,500 over 3 years, and if you blow over .16, it is $6,000 over three years.

I think this bill is a great idea, because it gives some incentives for someone to really turn their lives around.  The Drug court is usually reserved for those on DWI 2nd, so it is an important time in those offenders’ lives.

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The second bill relating to DWI Defense has been proposed by Representative Dutton.  I think it is a fantastic idea.

The crux of the bill changes Sec 42.12, which is the community supervision (probation) section of the code.  Right now, there are certain crimes that if convicted and placed on probation, you are not allowed early release off.  They are mostly major aggravated crimes involving weapons or sex offenses.  The worst of the worst.  But strangely enough, DWI was added to it.  This means if you get 2 years probation, you cannot get off early.

Not being able to get off probation early ties the hands of the judges and the prosecutors for people who have been sucessful on probation.  It takes away a lot of discretion for those in the know, that are put in their positions by the people that elect them.  This bill would remove the "DWI restriction" and allow somone on DWI probation to be released early.  It doesn’t make any other changes, such as making it not a final conviction, or removing from their record — simply letting them get off probation early.  Judges/Prosecutors usually only allow this if you have already completed all the terms and condtions of probation (commuity service, DWI classes, etc.).

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I noticed that in the past few days, a few new DWI bills have been proposed.  I found 5 imparticular that may be of consequence to the DWI defense world.

The first, proposed by Texas Rep Riddle.  From what I can see, it related to who can pull blood from a person suspeced of DWI.  It amends the transportation code, which already has a list of "approved" people to pull blood.  This bill seems to add in an EMT or paramedic.  EMT’s and paramedics were specifically excluded from those allowed to pull blood from suspects.

Below is the entire proposed text of the bill:

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Thanks to Robert Guest for pointing out to me that I was mentioned on Dallas/Ft Worth’s 1310 the Ticket.  They pulled up this blog, and the entry HERE.

Apparently, they show’s Gordon Keith was talking about Charles Barkley’s recent DUI arrest.  They were examining the difference between DUI and DWI.  

However, I think the information from my site probably is not what they were looking for.  My site lists the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas.  What they probably wanted to know is why Charles Barkley’s offense was DUI.  The answer is simple.  Each state calls this crime something different.  Acutally, most states refer to the crim of driving while intoxicated / driving under the influcence as DUI.  It is the same thing, with slightly different laws from state to state.  So, what Barkley was charged with is our equivalent of DWI.

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Austin, TX DWI Lawyer Jamie Spencer recently posted about whether or not someone should "call out" of those arrested for DWI or other crimes on blogs.

He explains:

I don’t blog about so-and-so got arrested for such-and-such. It’s
-Not my style
-Seems like making fun of people in the same situation as my clients
-Not usually relevant to my ‘niche’
-Overdone by the cut-and-paste bloggers
-Not a case I think I know anything about, since all my info about it comes from the media
-There’s about a hundred more reasons I don’t ‘do’ that type of blogging.

I’d agree with him for the most part.  This was in response to my previous post, and others who constantly tell him "hey, you should blog about ________ being arrested!"

I don’t normally report on people getting arrested.  I haven’t once mentioned Lindsay, Brittany, Nicole, etc.  I felt this one was different for a few reasons.

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Frisco is now voting on whether or not to allow longer alcohol serving hours for bars and restaurants.  The proposed (bill?) will allow restaurants and bars to serve until 2 AM, instead of the current Midnight.

I have been approached by many friends and colleagues about the possibility of Frisco having longer drinking hours.  The conversation usually starts, "wow, Hunter, this is something that will probably be great for your business, huh?"

So, here are my thoughts on the matter.