drunk driving

Austin Police Arrested More than 200 in Pre Labor Day DWI Crackdown

By Peek & Toland on February 16, 2018

On occasions, police in Austin and other Texas cities mount major operations to target drunk drivers. Last year, Austin police arrested more than 200 drivers in the city in a pre-Labor day DWI crackdown. Police also routinely carry our crackdowns around New Year’s Eve.

A special enforcement period lasted for more than two weeks leading up to Labor Day, reported the TV station KXAN.

The station noted Austin police arrested 216 people and charged them with DWIs during the No Refusal Initiative period that ran from 10 p.m. Aug. 18 through 5 a.m. Sept. 5.

Of those who were arrested, 78 had enhanced misdemeanor or felony charges, police said. One of the defendants had a child passenger, while a further 15 had two or more prior convictions and 23 of the drivers had one prior conviction, the report stated.

Police DWI crackdown

Police carried out a DWI crackdown

The majority of the elevated charges — 39 — were for having a breath sample in excess of 0.15. The legal limit is a blood alcohol content of 0.08.

Austin police applied for 97 search warrants during the DWI crackdown allowing them to draw the blood of suspected drunk drivers. The report noted most of the drivers who were pulled over by the police agreed to provide breath or blood samples without warrants.

It’s worth noting that you don’t have to give a breath test if you are pulled over by police in Texas.

However, the Lone Star State has a controversial law of implied consent. If you are lawfully arrested by a state trooper or a police officer and that officer has probable cause to believe you were driving intoxicated, you consent to a test for your blood alcohol content (BAC) is implied.

As well as facing a potential DWI conviction, you will face sanctions for refusing a chemical test.

However, there are some sound reasons for refusing a breath test and instead giving a blood test later. A police officer must obtain a warrant to take your blood. People with borderline BAC tests may fall below the unlawful limit by the time a blood test is taken.

If you refuse a test, a police officer will confiscate your driver’s license and replace it with a temporary driving permit. On day 41 following your arrest, you will have your license suspended for 180 days unless you demanded a hearing. Second time DWI offenders who refused to give a test face a two-year suspension.

During special enforcement periods, blood testing is typically expedited.

Some of these operations net large numbers of suspected drunk drivers. For example, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers made in excess of 640 DWI arrests during a 15-day special enforcement period from Dec. 19 – Jan. 2 2015.

DPS Director Steven McCraw said focused patrols were directed at removing impaired drivers from the roads of Texas. He said:

“These focused patrols are designed to protect public safety by detecting and removing impaired drivers from Texas roadways. The holiday season can be a dangerous time to be on the road because of the increased potential for drunk driving, and DPS efforts during this period helped save lives.”

Find out more about DWI here on our website or call our Austin DWI defense lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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Texas Police Officer Fired After Letting City Leader Go in DWI Stop

By Peek & Toland on January 9, 2018

Police in Texas are meant to apply the DWI laws fairly and equally. However, we sometimes read of abuses in the system. Recently, a police officer lost his job for letting a city council leader go after a DWI stop.

The police officer was fired from the department of the Grayson County city of Whitewright after he let a council member from another city go during a DWI traffic stop, reported Fox 4.

Officer Andrew Lefevre reportedly pulled over Ben Vincent, a member of the Tom Bean Council in July.

Dash cam video revealed the police officer said Vincent drove into oncoming traffic. The council member was seen telling Lefevre he drank a bottle of wine. However, the police officer suggested Vincent call a sober driver to pick him up.

Beau Heistand , the Whitewright Police Chief, said council members should not be given preferential treatment in matters such as DWIs. He said:

“There are a lot of fatalities that are caused by that. And allowing someone to get a slap on the wrist and call someone to come take them home isn’t going to get anywhere. The decision made by the officer is not the standard at which this agency operates,”

Heistand confirmed the police officer was no longer employed with the Whitewright Police Department.

Dubious DWI stop leads to police officer being fired

Police officer is fired over DWI stop

Just days after escaping a DWI charge, Vincent was involved in a head-on collision.

He was arrested after the vehicle he was driving crashed into one driven by a Tom Bean ISD school official, reported the Sherman Herald Democrat.

Vincent was booked into the Grayson County Jail on a charge of intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury. The offense is a third-degree felony which carries a sentence of up 10 years in prison.

Vincent resigned his position the following month. He cited health issues.

Your Rights After a DWI Stop in Texas

Police are meant to follow certain rules during DWI stops in Texas but on occasions, they bend the rules.

An officer must have a probable cause to stop you in the first place. He or she cannot randomly stop you unless you have committed another infraction like driving erratically or having a light out.

If you are pulled over, don’t panic and be aware of your rights. You do not have to tell an officer how much you drank. You also have a right to refuse to take part in field sobriety tests.

You can refuse to take a breath test. However, you will face charges if you refuse to take a blood-alcohol test at the station post-arrest. Find out more about your rights during a DWI stop here on our website.

If you have been charged with a DWI, please call our DWI defense lawyers for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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Repeat DWI Offender from Texas is Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

By Peek & Toland on December 29, 2017

Multiple DWI offenses can land you in prison for long periods, even life. Earlier this year, jurors in San Antonio convicted 57-year-old San Juan Garcia of felony DWI in a crash in Jan. 2014.

A report on News Channel 5 contained a statement from the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Garcia was driving intoxicated when his vehicle hit a motorcyclist. Toxicology tests suggested Garcia had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for driving in Texas.

It was the latest of numerous convictions for Garcia whose first DWI arrest was in March 1982. He was imprisoned for several later convictions.

big sentence for repeat DWI offender

Repeat DWI offender receives 30 years

Records show Garcia’s first DWI arrest was in March 1982 and that he served time in prison for several of his later convictions. In June, Garcia was sentenced as a habitual offender.

In the same month in Texas, a man who was convicted of driving while intoxicated seven times previously was sentenced to life in prison after a DWI arrest last year.

Richard Lee Pollard, 72, was convicted on felony charges of driving while intoxicated.

Reports on KXAN said Pollard was taken into custody on May 27, 2013 in Llano.

A police laboratory analysis found Pollard’s blood-alcohol concentration was more than twice the 0.08 BAC legal limit to drive in Texas. Jurors heard 911 calls from worried citizens who reported seeing Pollard’s car driving erratically down the highway and crossing into oncoming traffic along State Highway 81 between Brady and Llano.

You don’t need to be a serial drunk driver for a DWI conviction to turn your life upside down, we point out on our website.

Even if you are facing your first DWI in Texas, the authorities may treat you very harshly. You may lose your license, your livelihood and your family. A DWI conviction will cost you thousands of dollars.

Our experienced Texas criminal defense lawyers represent DWI clients in Austin, Laredo, Round Rock, San Marco, Bastrop, San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas. Please call us today at (512) 474-4445 if you have been charged with intoxicated driving or a similar offense.

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New Rules Mean a DWI Will Lead to Automatic Visa Revocation

By Peek & Toland on December 11, 2017

Drunk driving is taken seriously in Texas, especially for undocumented immigrants or people who are in the United States on temporary visas.

In November 2015, the U.S. Department of State formulated a visa revocation policy that was clarified a year later.

The policy applied to people in the United States on non-immigrant visas who were arrested for or convicted of driving while intoxicated, or similar arrests/convictions, that took place within the previous five years.

The new policy does not apply if an arrest or a conviction occurred before the date of the visa application and was already been assessed in the context of a visa application.

In recent months, The State Department has been automatically revoking nonimmigrant visa stamps when visitors or other temporary nonimmigrants are arrested for drunk driving offenses.

In some cases, this has happened as soon as the day of the arrest. The policy is alarming because an arrest rather than a conviction is all that is needed to revoke a visa.

DWI leads to automatic visa revocation

DWI triggers automatic visa revocation

The revoking of the visa stamp means the foreign national must appear again before the U.S. Consulate abroad for an in-person interview before they are allowed to return to the United States.

The U.S Department of State attempts to justify the policy by stating drunk driving may be indicative of a disorder. It states:

“Driving under the influence indicates a possible visa ineligibility under INA 212(a)(1)(A)(iii) for a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior that is likely to pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the applicant or others in the future.”

If your visa is no longer valid to travel to the United States due to a DWI, the visa stamp in your passport will not be valid if you try to get back into the country.

Automatic Visa Revocation – The Affected Visas

A valid visa stamp is required to reenter the United States after travel abroad. If you leave the country after a DWI arrest you will be required to appear before an approved physician. The doctor will look for signs of alcohol or drug dependency or other factors that might make the visa holder a threat when in the United States.’

Most visa applicants will have to deal with the additional expense of legal fees for the criminal proceedings and the anxiety that these proceedings entail, as well as the expense and inconvenience of an additional trip to a U.S. Consulate overseas, a formal, evaluation by a doctor for alcohol or chemical dependency, a delay in the issuing of a visa and the embarrassment of explaining it all to an employer.

In the case of the holders of J visas, if a J-1’s visa is revoked, the Department of State will normally revoke any J-2 dependents’ visas as well. It’s not clear why this provision only applies to J-2 dependents or whether it may be extended in the future.

There are 14 programs under the J visa category. They include camp counselors, college students, and au pairs.

The prospect of automatic visa revocation for a DWI should alert visa holders to be particularly careful about drinking and driving in the United States. Always make sure to designate a driver who is not drinking alcohol.

If you have any questions or wish to challenge a visa revocation, please contact our Austin immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.

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Woman Sues Austin Police for “Excessive Force” in DWI Arrest

By Peek & Toland on March 17, 2017

Police stops that result in DWI arrests can sometimes be challenged. Recently, a 26-year-old woman brought a civil lawsuit against Austin police alleging “excessive force” in her arrest.

In late 2016, a jury in federal court ruled against Caroline Callaway, 26, in her lawsuit claiming Austin police and Travis County jail employees used excessive force to take a sample of her blood following a DWI arrest in 2013, reported The Statesman.

Callaway sought more than $1 million to offset medical bills she said she incurred from separate elbow surgeries she said were the result of injuries inflicted by an Austin police officer. She claimed the officer jerked her hands while she was cuffed.

Austin police accused of excessive force in DWI arrest

Austin police were accused of using excessive force

In the lawsuit, Callaway also sought damages for post-traumatic stress disorder and neck pain from a choke hold.

The jury cleared the officer who made the arrest, Det. Patrick Oborski, and Sgt. Adam Johnson, who assisted in drawing the woman’s blood wrongdoing. Travis County was a co-defendant in the case.

Excessive Force Lawsuit Followed 2013 DWI Arrest

In 2015, Callaway beat a DWI charge. Her attorney alleged there was a breakdown in the jail’s chain of custody and her blood sample may have been faulty.

The lawsuit stemmed from a DWI arrest back in February 2013. Oborski pulled over Callaway on Feb. 4, 2013. He said she ran two red lights on Lamar Boulevard. Callaway allegedly told the officer she had not drank alcohol but later contradicted herself when she said she drank two beers and a shot at a Super Bowl party. Marijuana was found in her car, The Statesman reported.

Callaway alleged she faced serious trauma after the arrest. She said a mask she was forced to wear for up to 10 seconds to prevent biting and spitting gave her a panic attack.

Although many DWI arrests in Texas are routine, we hear of cases in which police officers act aggressively and try to force drivers to take tests. You have a right to refuse a blood test in Texas, and a 2016 Supreme Court case pointed to the need to police officers to obtain a search warrant before administering a blood test.

When police use intimidating tactics in DWI arrests, you may feel hopeless and not know where to turn. It’s important to hire an experienced Austin DWI attorney as soon as possible. We have helped many people who are in thus position to get their lives back on track. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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DWI Test Refusal – What Happens if You Refuse a Blood Test in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on December 19, 2016

Our Austin DWI defense lawyers are often asked about DWI test refusal. Does a defendant have the right to refuse a blood test after being apprehended for suspected drunk driving? What are the likely consequences?

Texas has a controversial law of implied consent. If you are lawfully arrested by a police officer or a state trooper who has probable cause to believe you were driving intoxicated, you consent to taking one or more chemical tests of breath or blood to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).

You should be aware a police officer cannot usually force you to take a test. An exception to the rule is if you caused an accident in which someone was seriously injured or killed.

Your right to a DWI test refusal in Texas

A DWI breath analyzer

If you decline to take a test, you violate the “implied consent” section of the Texas Transportation Code. You can still be charged with DWI even if you refused a breath or blood test. The state will attempt to prove your guilt through other means.

As well as facing a likely DWI conviction, you will face sanctions for refusing a chemical test. A police officer will confiscate your driver’s license and replace it with a temporary driving permit. On day 41 after your arrest, you will have your license suspended for 180 days unless you demanded a hearing. Second time DWI offenders who refused to give a test face a two-year suspension.

Your Right to DWI Test Refusal

Notwithstanding Texas’s implied consent law, you still have the right to refuse a chemical test under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Texas has seen a spate of cases in which defendants were forced to take tests against their will in recent years.

The rights of defendants to refuse blood tests were recently bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court decision on DWI test refusal that appeared to erode the rights of suspected DWI drivers to refuse a breath test.

The justices ruled that police or troopers must first obtain a search warrant to carry out a blood/alcohol test on a driver who they suspect to be drunk, but that states are within their rights to make it a crime for a motorist suspected of intoxicated driving to refuse a breath test.

If you have been forced to give a blood test without your explicit consent a police officer may have been acting outside the law. Please contact the DWI criminal defense lawyers at Peek & Toland immediately. The evidence against you could be suppressed and rendered inadmissible in your case. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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How Much Will a DWI Cost You in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on June 21, 2016

If you are charged with a DWI in Texas, your life is likely to be transformed overnight. You will face losing many of the things you have taken for granted. You could lose your license and possibly your liberty while the financial cost of a DWI in Texas can be astronomical.

A recent CBS study found Texas has the 11th worst record of driving after consuming alcohol in the country. The Department of Transportation estimates someone is killed or hurt in a DUI/DWI wreck every 20 minutes in our state. Texas is tough on a lot of crimes, and driving under the influence is no exception, even for your first offense.

The cost of a DWI

Although there is no hard and fast rule about how much a DWI offense will cost you, it will certainly run into thousands of dollars.

In 2010, a press release from Texas Department of Transportation stated:

“Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for up to a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Safety officials say other costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.”

TxDOT goes on to provide an estimate of the costs for other DWI scenarios, specifically:

DWI with a Child Passenger

You can face a fine up to $10,000, up to two years’ incarceration in a state jail and the loss of your license for 180 days.

Second Offense DWI

A fine of up to $4,000, a month in jail, the loss of your license for two years and an annual fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.

Third Offense DWI

A $10,000 fine, a prison term of up two years and a fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your license.

If you have received two or more DWI convictions within five years, you must install an ignition interlock system that stops your vehicle being operated if you’ve been drinking alcohol. There’s an installation fee ranging from $50 to $200 and a monthly rental fee ranging from $50 to $100.

The fees in question relate to the DWI surcharge program – the Department of Public Safety calls it a driver responsibility program – that requires a payment of $1,000 a year for three years after a DWI conviction and $2,000, if your BAC was above .16 at the time of the offense. See the full table of charges here.

As well as these court costs, many people who are charged with a DWI hire a lawyer and pay legal fees. You don’t have to hire a lawyer but it can be a dangerous strategy because an attorney can help you avoid some serious traps set by the prosecution. A lawyer can uncover flaws in the case against you which could lead to you receiving a lighter sentence or even acquittal if the evidence against you is suspect or your arrest was unlawful. For instance, you may have been forced to take a blood test without giving your explicit consent. This article in NOLO, estimates your legal costs are likely to be around $2,000 and up to $5,000 if a case goes to trial.

The financial implications listed by TxDOT do not include the knock-on effects of a DWI. If you are jailed, you will lose your income, possibly your home, and future earning potential. If you are no longer able to drive, you may face expensive costs for alternative transportation. We highlight some of the potentially devastating effects of a DWI here.

Most of the people we help who have been charged with a DWI offense never thought it would happen to them. It’s a lot easier than you might think to fail a breath test.

Texas considers you to be driving over the legal limit if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more. Factors such as the amount of food you have consumed, the type of alcohol involved and your body mass index are highly relevant. It’s possible to be driving with illegal BAC levels after just a couple of alcoholic drinks.

The easiest way to avoid getting a DWI is to avoid driving after consuming alcohol. Appoint a designated driver or take Uber. We know life happens and sometimes we make mistakes. Although the costs and trauma of a DWI charge may seem overwhelming, you are not alone. At Peek & Toland , we have helped many people who face a DWI to get past it and to get their lives back on track. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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