traffic stops

Can Officers Make Me Wait for a Drug Dog After They Pull Me Over?

By Peek & Toland on September 5, 2019

The introduction of drug dogs to search vehicles is a relatively recent development in the war on drugs. Nonetheless, using dogs as a tool to detect drugs has become more and more common. However, drivers need to be aware of their rights when it comes to traffic stops and drug-sniffing dogs.

Police officers only may stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has committed a crime. Often, this alleged crime is some traffic violation. However, even a legitimate traffic stop does not automatically give police the right to search your vehicle. You have a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Can Officers Make Me Wait for a Drug Dog After They Pull Me Over?

For police to legally search your vehicle, you either must give consent to the search, or they must have reasonable suspicion to believe that you have committed a crime. The crime must be some offense other than the traffic violation that the police stopped you for in the first place. You should understand that under no circumstances are you required to consent to police searching your vehicle. Once you give your consent, they legally can search your car. If police then find anything illegal in your vehicle, you could face other criminal charges.

If a police officer pulls you over for speeding and has a reasonable suspicion that you may be carrying drugs, then the officer can delay you long enough to bring in a drug-sniffing dog. This sort of delay and resulting search by a drug-sniffing dog does not violate your Fourth Amendment rights. The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. We intend to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Drug Crimes

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Report Shows Austin Police More Likely to Stop Black and Hispanic Drivers

By Peek & Toland on May 11, 2019

The Austin Police Department recently released a racial profiling report indicating that when police officers pulled over black and Hispanic drivers in 2018, they were twice as likely to search them and their vehicles for contraband, as compared to white drivers whom they pulled over. Overall, officers searched only 6% of white drivers during traffic stops, as opposed to 14% of Hispanic drivers and 17% of black drivers.

Nonetheless, of the drivers whom police officers searched, Hispanic and black drivers were only slightly more likely to be in possession of contraband. These searches resulted in police finding contraband about 30% of the time, regardless of the driver’s race. More specifically, the rates of finding contraband were 27% for white drivers, 30% of Hispanic drivers, and 31% of black drivers during traffic stops.

Report Shows Austin Police More Likely to Stop Black and Hispanic Drivers

This report is in line with previous reports from the Austin Police Department. In 2017, for example, the report showed that police officers searched Hispanic drivers whom they pulled over twice as often as white drivers, and black drivers three times as often as white drivers.

According to the police chief, part of these numbers may be that the department assigns more officers to part of the city with high crime rates. These same areas tend to be less affluent neighborhoods with disproportionately higher numbers of minorities. As a result, more traffic stops tend to occur in these same areas, which may give rise to some of the reasoning behind the searches of drivers pulled over during traffic stops.

The Austin Police Department has taken steps in recent years to put all officers through fairness and impartiality training in order recognize and address biases. The Department also provides ongoing training to ensure as much racial equity as possible. 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.

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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.

Posted in DWI

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New Austin Police Chief Won’t Reconsider Demanding Immigration Status During Traffic Stops

By Peek & Toland on January 27, 2017

Austin has a new police chief. He won’t be changing the department’s practice of not questioning the immigration status of people apprehended at traffic stops.

Austin interim police chief Brian Manley spoke to the KXAN TV station. He said questioning the legal status of people who are stopped has never been police department policy.

Manley took over the department in late 2016 from Art Acevedo. He pledged to continue his predecessor’s approach to not questioning the immigration status of people who are stopped.

Traffic stops are not the place to question immigrant status says police chief

Austin police won’t ask immigrant status during traffic stops

Not focusing on immigration status when someone is arrested for a crime is a policy that’s commonly associated with sanctuary cities, a target of the new Trump administration.

Manley said in the interview the police department has no reason to ask someone who is arrested about their immigration status. He said:

“We’re not going to get involved in their status as far as why they are in the country, how they are in the country whether they’re here illegally.”

Traffic Stops in Austin Will Focus on Criminal Conduct

The chief said the focus of his department will be on any criminal conduct that may have been committed and the need to keep local people safe from crime. The interviewer asked what the department would do if a lawmaker demand police ask suspects about their immigration status.

It’s a pertinent question with a bill intended to eliminate sanctuary cities set to be debated in the state legislature.

Manley said if a bill was passed the police department would need to look at how it could change its policies. He pointed to a longstanding tradition in Austin to focus on the criminal offense rather than the immigrant status of a suspect.

In Travis County, the new sheriff Sally Hernandez has taken a pro-immigrant stance. She has pledged not to honor detainer request made by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Detainer requests are often made without a warrant. ICE agents ask local jails to hold people suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

Over the next few months, we are likely to see major immigration reforms aimed at increasing deportations. Immigrants with criminal records will be in the front line.

Our Austin family immigration attorneys are well aware of the dangers of broad brush classifications. We know at first hand the importance of keeping families together.

If you need help with an immigration matter, please call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Immigration

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