DWI

Do Police Need a Warrant to Test Your Blood that Was Drawn for Medical Purposes?

By Peek & Toland on June 13, 2019

Normally, police officers must get a warrant signed by a judge to have the authority to draw your blood when they have arrested you on suspicion of DUI. Suppose, however, that emergency medical personnel transport a person to the hospital following a motor vehicle accident and law enforcement authorities suspect that the person was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. In this situation, are the police entitled to access the results of the blood tests that the hospital performed purely for medical diagnosis purposes or use the blood drawn by the hospital to perform independent testing without a search warrant? The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest state court that hears criminal cases, recently issued a ruling on this issue.

Do Police Need a Warrant to Test Your Blood that Was Drawn for Medical Purposes?

According to the court, individuals have no expectation of privacy in the results of blood tests performed by hospital personnel following an accident. HIPAA, the federal law that protects an individual’s right to privacy with respect to his or her medical records, has an exception for grand jury subpoena. Therefore, the state can use a grand jury subpoena obtain the individual’s medical records, including the results of any blood tests performed by the hospital without a need to obtain a search warrant.

However, individuals do have an expectation of privacy in the disposition of the blood drawn by the hospital. As a result, the police do need a warrant to take blood samples that the hospital has drawn for medical purposes if they wish to test the blood for the presence of alcohol or drugs. If police fail to obtain a warrant prior to obtaining and testing the blood, there is a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges involving bribery. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with:

Can My Child Be Tried as an Adult on DWI Charges?

By Peek & Toland on April 1, 2019

Standards for DWI and DUI charges in Texas are different for adults over the age of 21 and individuals who are under the age of 21; all persons under the age of 21 are considered minors for the purposes of DWI and DUI laws. While adults typically will not face DWI charges unless they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) that measures 0.08% or greater, individuals who are under the age of 21 can face DUI charges if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems. However, while individuals under the age of 18 only can face DUI charges, those who are between the ages of 17 and 21 can face adult charges and penalties for DWI.  Generally, the penalties for DUI for adults are harsher than those for DWI for minors.

 

Can My Child Be Tried as an Adult on DWI Charges?

A first-time DUI charge for an individual who is under the age of 17 is a Class C misdemeanor offense, which can result in a fine of up to $500, between 20 and 40 hours of community service, and a driver’s license suspension ranging from 60 – 180 days. For individuals who are under 17 and refuse to take a BAC test, the suspension period is an automatic 180 days. 

In contrast, a first-time DWI charge for individuals who are between the ages of 17 and 21 is a Class B misdemeanor offense. Penalties for a Class B misdemeanor include fines of up to $2,000 and a period of incarceration ranging from 72 hours to 180 days. These individuals also may face a license suspension of up to one year, although the court can reduce the suspension to 90 days if it orders completion of community service hours and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). Refusing to take a BAC test also results in an automatic 180-day license suspension. 

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with:

Marijuana DWI in Texas

By Peek & Toland on March 20, 2019

Although many states in recent years have legalized medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana in some cases, Texas has not followed this trend. With the narrow exception of low-THC cannabidiol oil prescribed for intractable epilepsy, marijuana remains illegal under Texas law in any amount and any circumstances. As a result, driving while under the influence of marijuana, or marijuana DWI, is illegal in the state of Texas.

Marijuana can affect judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. All these characteristics arguably are necessary for safe driving. However, studies have produced mixed results as to whether marijuana truly impairs persons to the extent that they cannot safely drive.

Marijuana DWI in Texas

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. Texas law defines individuals as intoxicated when they do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties, due to alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, or a combination of these substances. Therefore, to the extent that marijuana has caused impairment to your mental or physical faculties and you choose to drive, you could be charged with marijuana DWI. 

The potential penalties for marijuana DWI are the same as those for DWI due to alcohol. For a first offense, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can carry a potential term of incarceration of up to 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Drivers convicted of DWI also will face a mandatory driver’s license, increased motor vehicle insurance rates, and annual surcharges assessed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of $1,000 per year for three years. A DWI sentence also may include mandatory community service, drug rehabilitation or counseling, and vehicle impoundment.

Furthermore, if you possess marijuana at the time of your arrest, you may also be charged with possession of marijuana. While this does not occur in all jurisdictions in Texas, as some no longer prosecute possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is a possibility in other jurisdictions. Otherwise, the prosecutor can use the presence of marijuana as evidence in support of the marijuana DWI charge.

If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in Drug Crimes, DWI

Tagged with: ,

Can I Get a Concealed Handgun License if I Have a DWI Conviction?

By Peek & Toland on March 17, 2019

While most people expect restrictions on the ability to obtain a concealed handgun license for those who commit violent crimes, they may not realize that even a DWI conviction can impact eligibility for a concealed handgun license. The fact is, a DWI conviction can impact your ability to get a concealed carry license on a temporary basis, and in some cases, on a permanent basis.

A first DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor. Under Texas law, if you have a Class A or Class B misdemeanor conviction, you are ineligible to get a concealed handgun license for five years. Even if you successfully resolve your DWI through deferred adjudication, which means that the charges against you ultimately are dismissed, it still counts as a conviction for the purposes of concealed carry licenses. If you already possess a license at the time of your conviction, it will be automatically suspended.

Can I Get a Concealed Handgun License if I Have a DWI Conviction?

If you are convicted of DWI twice within ten years, you are likely to become permanently ineligible for a concealed handgun license. One of the grounds for denying concealed carry licenses in the state of Texas is chemical dependency. Therefore, even after five years have passed since your most recent DWI conviction, you are likely to remain ineligible for a concealed handgun license.

Individuals who have pending Class A or B misdemeanor charges also do not qualify for a concealed handgun license. Therefore, while your DWI charges are pending, even if you are completing a deferred adjudication program, you will be ineligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun.

Third DWI charges and DWI with a child passenger both are felony offenses under Texas law. Once you have a felony conviction, federal and state law prohibits you from possessing any type of firearm.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with: ,

How Accurate are Breath Tests?

By Peek & Toland on March 8, 2019

Texas law enforcement officials use two different types of devices to perform breath tests: the intoxilyzer and the breathalyzer. These devices are designed to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC), so test results can support DWI charges. Nonetheless, the results of breath tests are not always accurate, which can give you grounds to challenge their results in court and fight back against your DWI charges.

First, police officers normally are trained how to conduct breath tests, as they must follow many technical requirements in order for the test to be valid. For instance, officers are required to observe the driver for a period of time before they can administer the breath test. If an officer is inexperienced or not sufficiently trained on using the breath test device, there may be an argument that the officer conducted the test improperly. Additionally, if the police officer failed to wait for the entire observation period to elapse before conducting the test, you may be able to challenge the breath test results.

How Accurate are Breath Tests?

Another possible challenge to the breath test results might involve the length of time that elapsed between the time that you drank and the point which the officer tested your breath. Some health conditions produce compounds that mimic alcohol, which can cause a false positive on a breath test. Likewise, if you used mouthwash or another health product that contained alcohol, the results might be skewed.
Furthermore, the devices themselves may misfunction. If they are not properly maintained and calibrated, like any instrument or device, they can produce incorrect results.

If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights. Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with:

Can I Get an Order of Nondisclosure for My DWI?

By Peek & Toland on February 6, 2019

Generally, criminal proceedings are a matter of public record, meaning that anyone can view arrest records and court records concerning criminal charges. In some cases, however, it may be possible to obtain an order of nondisclosure, which prevents access to records about a particular criminal case by the public. A recent expansion of this law allows individuals to get an order of nondisclosure for records of some DUI arrests and convictions.

Typically, a DWI charge is a Class B misdemeanor. However, a DWI charge may increase to a Class A misdemeanor if the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15% or higher. A DWI case will not qualify for an order of nondisclosure if the charge became a Class A misdemeanor for this reason. Any qualifying DWI case also must not have involved any kind of accident involving another person, including a passenger, even if no one was injured. An individual must have no prior convictions for anything other than minor traffic offenses, including any offenses that were resolved through deferred adjudication or probation.

Can I Get an Order of Nondisclosure for My DWI?

Furthermore, there is a waiting period before you may be able to seek an order of nondisclosure for a DWI case. The length of this waiting period depends upon whether a condition of your sentence was to drive only with an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period of six months. If you had an IID successfully for six months, then you are eligible to file a petition for an order of nondisclosure three years following the completion of your sentence. However, if you did not have an IID as part of your sentence, then you must wait five years following the completion of your sentence.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with: ,

Open Container Law in Texas

By Peek & Toland on January 10, 2019

Under Texas law, it is illegal to transport an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle. In order to be an open container, the container must be an unsealed bottle, can, flask, or any other device to hold alcohol. Furthermore, for an open container to be present in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, it must be visible and reasonably within reach of the driver’s seat. An open container, however, is not considered to be in the passenger compartment of a vehicle if it is in a locked glove box or another locked storage area within the vehicle, if it is in the trunk of your vehicle, or if it is in the area of your upright seat, if your vehicle does not have a trunk.

Open Container Law in Texas

The Texas open container law applies when you are driving on a public road, but also when you are stopped and parked in, on, or immediately next to a public road. Therefore, you do not have to actually be caught driving in order to violate the open container law. Plus, even if a driver does not have an open container of alcohol, but his or her passenger does, both individuals could be charged with an open container offense because they both could reach the open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. This is the case even if the driver had no alcohol in his or her system at all at the time of the arrest.

Violation of the open container law is a Class C misdemeanor under Texas law, which means that you will receive a citation and fine for the offense. There is no possibility of jail time for this offense and the fine is not likely to be more than $500.

If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

Tagged with: ,

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on January 6, 2019

Drugged driving falls under the category of driving while intoxicated, as set forth in Texas Penal Code § 49.04. This section makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. In addition to the definition that refers to blood alcohol concentration (BAC), Texas Penal Code § 49.01 provides an alternate definition of intoxicated as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.

Determining whether a driver is sufficiently impaired by drugs to constitute driving while intoxicated is far less straightforward than simply measuring a driver’s BAC. There is not a definitive legal level at which an individual is impaired by a certain drug or combination of drugs. This is because unlike alcohol, science does not provide a method for equating a particular drug dosage with impairment. A dosage of a drug that may be incapacitating to one person may not impair another person at all. As a result, determining whether to charge a driver with impairment due to drug consumption can be rather arbitrary.

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

Just like with regular DUI involving alcohol intoxication, drugged driving is generally a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law that requires a minimum term of incarceration of 72 hours. Other aggravating factors can increase the potential charge and penalties, such as if the offense occurs with the presence of a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, or if the offense results in serious bodily injury to others.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Drug Crimes, DWI

Tagged with: , ,

DWI with a High BAC

By Peek & Toland on January 2, 2019

Although any conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) will result in criminal penalties and civil fines, being convicted of DWI with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or a BAC of 0.15% or more, can result in more severe penalties. Pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, DWI with a high BAC is a Class A misdemeanor, rather than the Class B misdemeanor charge that normally would result from DWI charges.

Having a 0.15% BAC or more is easier for some individuals than others. Various factors can impact BAC, including the presence of other medications in a person’s body, gender, body weight, the amount of food that the person has eaten, the rate at which the person consumed the drinks, the strength of the alcohol in the drinks consumed, and the number of drinks. Typically, when an individual has a BAC of 0.15% or more, his or her gross motor skills are significantly impaired. Driving with a BAC of 0.15% or more definitely can be dangerous, both to the individual and to others.

DWI with a High BAC

According to Tex. Pen. Code § 12.21, a conviction on a Class A misdemeanor charge is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, a jail sentence not to exceed one year, or both. A driver’s license suspension is also a probable outcome of any DWI conviction, along with the costs involved in increased insurance premiums, perhaps for several years. Depending on your prior history of criminal convictions and other circumstances, you may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles that you drive. There are installation fees and monthly maintenance fees for keeping an IID in place.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in DWI

Tagged with:

DWI with a Child Passenger

By Peek & Toland on December 19, 2018

DWI with a child passenger is a serious charge that occurs when an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place and the vehicle that he or she is operating is occupied by a passenger who is under 18 years of age.

A conviction for DWI with a child passenger can result in the following penalties under Texas law:

·         Fines of up to $10,000

·         Incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years

·         Driver’s license suspension ranging from 90 days to two years

·         Annual surcharge fee of $1,000 to $2,000 each year for three years

 

DWI with a Child Passenger

Since DWI with a child passenger is a felony offense, you also will forfeit some civil rights, including the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm.

Although you are likely to be released on bond following charges of DWI on a child passenger, you also are likely to face significant restrictions. For instance, you may be prohibited from driving, drinking, and using controlled substances while out on bond. In other cases, you may be subject to random drug tests. The court also could order you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle as a condition of your ability to drive in this situation.

Due to the severity of this charge, you could face collateral consequences of a DWI with a child passenger charge, as well. Since professionals are required to report child neglect under Texas law, a DWI with a child passenger charge could result in a report to Texas Child Protective Services (CPS). If CPS becomes involved with your family and opens a case, they could remove your child from your custody due to the dangerous situation in which you placed the child. You also could face a custody challenge from your child’s other parent, alleging that you are no longer fit to have custody of the child.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that you raise all relevant defenses. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

Posted in DWI

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.