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What You Should Know About Alcohol To-Go During the Pandemic

By Peek & Toland on September 25, 2020

As a wise person who once said, “In troubled times, you just need to know when to give up and have a margarita.” I think we can all relate to that. 

Attorney Steve Toland begins a new series breaking down the Executive Order that Texas Governor Abbott released in March about alcohol to-go during the pandemic.

On March 19th of 2020, he issued an executive order that over-read previous rules from the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission about alcohol to go from restaurants, but it spurs many questions that we’ve received frequently since. 

There are four things you should remember about the alcohol to-go in Texas. 

1. It only protects you for manufactured sealed alcohol. 

The alcohol needs to stay in the original container, which the manufacturer put it in. Restaurants cannot make their alcoholic beverage and put it in a styrofoam cup and put some scotch tape over it. Now they can make the cocktail mix that goes with it and sell that as a separate item, but they can’t sell the alcohol themselves. It has to be in its original sealed manufactured container. 

2. It applies to a certain volume of alcohol it’s 0.375 milliliters of alcohol.

Similar to those airline bottles, the tiny ones. You can’t go and get a bottle of service from a restaurant.

3. You have to purchase food with alcohol. 

Restaurants cannot turn themselves into a bar and start just selling liquor to-go. They have to sell you food as well, or you have to purchase food as well.

4. It doesn’t change the rules for those restaurants or bars that already had previously obtained specialty licensure from TABC to sell beer, to-go, or wine to-go. 

Those places are still in effect, but those rules don’t apply because they already had previous permission to sell. 

Those are the four things you should keep in mind about alcohol. It is legal. However, don’t forget, open container rules still apply. So you can’t take your little miniature bottle of alcohol, mix it, and then drive with it home. That would be a violation of class C violation in Texas of an open container rule. 

We’ll talk in future episodes of In Your Defense about the open container laws in Texas. 

If you have any questions about alcohol-related offenses or any criminal liability issues whatsoever, please reach out to us. 

Posted in Criminal Defense, Interesting

Can Immigration Check Your Cell Phone? | Immigration Wednesdays

By Peek & Toland on August 5, 2020

Attorney Jeff Peek will discuss the following question often asked by clients:

Can immigration search yourself cell phone when you come through an international checkpoint or airport? 

Most of you are aware of the fourth amendment and protecting your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures from the government. The fourth amendment says, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” 

There are two notable exceptions to the fourth amendment. 

The first exception is searches incident to arrest. Meaning you’ve been arrested. The cops handcuffing you, maybe let’s say a perfect example is driving while intoxicated. At that point, he’s going to pat you down. He’s doing that for his safety, for your safety to make sure there’s no contraband, make sure there are no weapons. But what happens when they find a cell phone in the pocket? At that point, historically, cops used to check your cell phone, which was used as a vital piece of information. But there’s a critical Supreme Court case, 2014 Riley v. California. For the first time, it protected a person from having the police officer check their cell phone if they had it on them during the arrest. Riley said if you have that kind of suspicion, you better get a warrant and show it. So it took away the ability to search a cell phone, from that exception to the fourth amendment. 

Another exception to the fourth amendment is, any time you come through the airport checkpoints or any port of entry to the United States after international travel. You’re subjecting yourself to revision at that point. You don’t have the right to say, “Oh, you can’t search my, my luggage; that’s my personal effects.” They have a right to search for it. And right up to this point, immigration officers and customs officials can search those cell phones when you come in. It was very uncomfortable for a citizen named George Anibowei, who recently came in through Dallas-Fort Worth airport. He’s a naturalized U.S. citizen and a lawyer. He was going through customs when they wanted to search his cell phone. That bothered this lawyer because, first, just the privacy violation, but also because he’s representing clients who are suing the federal government for various things. He had information potentially on his phone revolving those cases. So, he is currently with a lawsuit pending that’s in the fifth circuit on appeal right now.

This topic has already been meted out by a couple of circuit courts in the country:

  • The 11th circuit felt it was constitutional at border checkpoints, that border officers could indeed review your cell phone without a warrant. 
  • The 9th circuit says they at least have to have reasonable suspicion. 
  • The 4th circuit says, “Hey, that’s unconstitutional; you will need a warrant.” 

We now have various courts who have disagreements about the standard that should be used.

As somebody who greatly values his fourth amendment right, I hope that this 5th circuit comes back and says, “We don’t feel comfortable authorizing searches of people’s papers and effects that exist in these cell phones.” 

That’s all we have today, we’ll see you next Wednesday with more interesting immigration information.


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Posted in Immigration, Interesting

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3 Places that Keep Austin Weird

By Peek & Toland on May 21, 2014

Keep Austin WeirdAll across the United States, there are way too many towns and cities with the same big box stores, chain restaurants, and strip malls, and more seem to be popping up every year. If not a disturbing trend, it’s certainly a boring one. Why does everything have to look the same anyway? Whatever happened to American ingenuity and creativity? This nation needs more out-of-the-box thinking, more excitement, more weird. It needs more places like Austin, Texas.

Weirdness is a point of pride for the citizens of Austin. In fact, a popular slogan that’s thrown around the city is “Keep it weird.” And that they are. You can see all kinds of interesting sights in the capital city, from marvelous natural wonders to a strangely beautiful cathedral made entirely out of junk. Here are some of the weirdest spots in Austin you should check out. Read the rest »

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5 Weird or Fascinating World Records that Were Set in Texas

By Peek & Toland on May 7, 2014

The Guinness World Records is thoroughly comprehensive in that it incorporates any and all kinds of records from around the world. Longest fingernails, biggest cat, most people wearing frog masks (no, that’s not a joke) – if it’s a record, chances are that Guinness has got it.
Texas Pride
Texas, being the “big” state that it is, is bound to have had a few records here or there, right? Yes! In fact, the Lone Star State has boasted more than a few records in the past, most of which were rather odd (as Guinness records tend to be). Today, the records below may have been beaten by some other persistent and perhaps compulsive individuals, but remember that Texas once held the crown for multiple world records! Read the rest »

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Top 3 Most Dangerous Animals in Texas

By Peek & Toland on April 17, 2014

Before you read on, make note of the fact that there is really no malicious intent behind these so-called “dangerous animals” or any other animal for that matter. They operate on instinct, meaning their behavior is for the most part reactive to the environment and their needs.
Texas Criminal DefenseAnimals are generally afraid of humans, seeing as we’re probably the most dangerous and capable species on the planet when it comes down to it, and they only attack when they feel threatened or are in desperate situations. So don’t think that they’re out for murder; they probably don’t even have the cognitive ability to understand such a concept. Just remember to be respectful to nature. As long as you’re not reckless or disruptive while you’re out in the wild, you will most likely go through life without ever being attacked by one of these dangerous animals. Read the rest »

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Three Strange Roadside Attractions in Texas

By Peek & Toland on March 12, 2014

Texas Criminal Defense
Travelling the many roadways and highways of Texas, you’re bound to come across some cattle ranches, barbecue pits, beautiful expansive fields, and other southern staples. You might be gazing out the car window, perhaps somewhat sleepy from a long trip, when you spot something out of the corner of your eye that makes you do a double take. At first, you might be thinking that you’re going stir crazy from exhaustion, but sure enough, it’s real. Texas is home to many roadside attractions that are inexplicable, unheard of, or just plain bizarre. Read the rest »

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Five Strange and Interesting Facts about Texas

By Peek & Toland on February 28, 2014

Texas Criminal Defense
Texas – just the very name evokes images of cattle ranches, cowboys, barbecue, and other things tough and rugged. Ask most people about the Lone Star State’s history and they’ll probably come up with the Alamo and not much else. Although all these things do make up a significant part of the Texan identity, they don’t tell the full story. There’s much more to the southern state than one would think. Read the rest »

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