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License Suspension in Texas


Texas law requires that the department shall suspend a person’s driver’s license if the department determines that the person had an alcohol concentration of .08 in accordance with Section 49.01 (2)(B) of the Texas Penal Code, while operating a motor vehicle in a public place or while operating a watercraft; or (2)  the person was a minor on the date that the breath or blood specimen was obtained and had any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system while operating a motor vehicle in a public place or while operating a watercraft.

Being arrested for a DWI in Texas does not necessarly result in having your driver’s license suspended.  There are options available to contest the suspension or to allow you to continue to drive legally despite the suspension.  Remember that each state has different laws regarding DWI’s and suspensions so it is important to find an attorney in your state that is knowledgable about DWI laws.

To assist you with the process of a license suspension in Texas, here is a break-down of what happens after a DWI arrest in Texas:

  • After you are arrested for a DWI, you have 15 days to request an ALR hearing.
  • A criminal defense attorney may request the hearing for you or you may request one yourself prior to hiring an attorney.  ALR hearings are used to contest driver’s license suspensions.
  • At an ALR hearing, license suspensions may be overturned completely or the suspension may be postponed until a later time pending the outcome of the hearing.

Driving is a necessity to life, so of course it’s important to ensure that you can continue driving legally. If an ALR hearing is not successful in overturning your license suspension, another option available in Texas counties, such as Williamson, Travis, and Hays, is to file a petition for an Occupational Driver’s License.  An Occupational Driver’s License is an incredibly helpful option that allows you to maintain the ability to drive as needed despite your license being suspended as a result of a DWI arrest or other offense.

Here is a list of items you will need in order to have the petition granted and continue driving after your license suspension:

  • A letter from your employer explaining your need to drive.  The letter should include a list of all counties in which you may need to drive during your license suspension along with the times of day and days of the week that you would need to drive.
  • An SR-22 insurance form from either your insurance company or another insurance company.  An SR-22 is a supplement to the insurance that you currently have.
  • Filing Fee’s.  Fees vary by county in which the offense was committed
  • A copy of your three-year driving record.  This can be obtained from Texas DPS. You can visit their website and download the application at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/InternetForms/Forms/DR-1.pdf
  • A personal letter listing any activities in which you need to attend outside of work, i.e:
    • School classes,
    • church,
    • court settings,
    • AA meetings,
    • doctor appointments,
    • childcare,
    • carrying out essential household duties, etc.
    • This list must also include all of the counties in which you may need to drive during your license suspension along with times of day and days of the week

Once all of the requirements have been submitted, a petition is drafted and filed with the court.  Once your petition is filed in court, a hearing may be required, depending on where the petition is filed.  If the court grants you an Occupational Driver’s License you will be eligible to drive for the reasons and times approved by the judge in your petition and outlined in the order resulting from the court’s approval.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • While driving with an Occupational Driver’s License the order should always be in your possession. 
  • If you are pulled over and do not have the order in your possession you will be arrested. 
  • Once your suspension period is over, you simply have to pay a reinstatement fee and you will receive your regular license back. 

If you have any questions or have been charged with an alcohol related offense, feel free to visit us on Facebook and post a question, leave a comment or fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

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This is the guy that refused….


 

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BWI – Boating While Intoxicated

BWI – Boating While Intoxicated

With summer activities kicking into full gear and people beginning to relax on their boats throughout the Austin lake ways of  Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties it’s a great time to discuss Boating While Intoxicated.

Enjoy your time hanging out at Devil’s Cove, Carlos & Charlie’s or The Oasis on Lake Travis — but be careful while consuming alcohol because you could get more than just a bad sunburn.

Many people are unaware that Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) is a crime but it is and was responsible for more than 300 arrests in Texas in 2010. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.06, BWI is a Class B misdemeanor. It is illegal to operate a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher (the same BAC that will result in an arrest for a DWI). You may also be charged with BWI in Texas if you are operating a boat and do not have normal use of your mental or physical facilities due to alcohol or drugs.

BWI FACTS:

  • A BWI carries the same penalty as a DWI.
  • A first conviction can result in a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days.
  • A second conviction can result in a fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to one year.
  • A third conviction can result in a fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of 2-10 years.
  • If you are found boating while intoxicated on a vessel that has an engine over 50 horsepower (this includes boats and jet skis), your license will automatically be suspended.
oasis at lake travis

Image by Tara Deck

Unlike a DWI an officer is not required to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop your boat and test you for suspected impairment. On a boat, you can be stopped at the officer’s discretion to check the boat for safety floatation devices. The officer may then proceed to conduct a sobriety test based on factors he witnesses while on the boat such as smelling alcohol on breath, bloodshot eyes or a red face. Some of these factors could easily be explained as sun exposure but will frequently lead officers to conduct field sobriety tests. Officers may also stop boaters for other reasons including: driving the boat too fast for the waterway, aggressive turns, or failure to turn on lights and other equipment.

To investigate whether a person was boating while intoxicated an officer will likely perform some sobriety tests on the water to determine if there is reason to conduct a further investigation on land. The tests performed “on the water” will likely include such things as reciting the alphabet and divided attention tests (including hand-palm touches or a finger count). Officers are instructed to wait 15 minutes before administering sobriety tests on land, so that a person may regain his equilibrium after being removed from water to land.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from being charged with a BWI is to appoint a designated driver or don’t drink and drive.

If you have any questions about what constitutes Boating While Intoxicated or have been charged with an alcohol related offense, feel free to visit us on Facebook and post a question, leave a comment or fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

 

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Criminal Records: Expunged or Sealed?


State Seal of Texas

Image via Wikipedia

Having a criminal record can be a huge obstacle when doing many things that most people take for granted. Most companies run background checks on all prospective employees so having a criminal record can prevent you from being hired for a job you may otherwise be perfect for. Depending on what type of case and disposition you received it is possible that a Texas attorney can help you expunge your criminal record.

Figuring out whether you can have your criminal record sealed or expunged can be a complicated issue and it is essential that you hire an attorney that is knowledgeable about the different methods of criminal record sealing. Depending on the results of your case; whether you were convicted, arrested, detained or if your case was dismissed – there are many factors to consider. Here are the two options available when it comes to having your criminal record sealed.

Expungement vs. Sealing

Most people believe that expunging and sealing criminal records have the same meaning, but there are a few differences. When a criminal record is sealed the court file is hidden from the general public but may still be available to certain government agencies and law enforcement. When a criminal record is expunged the criminal record is completely destroyed as if the crime never occurred. All of the records associated with the offense, such as the court records, arrest record and the criminal history are erased. Not every criminal offense can be expunged. The only circumstances in which you can get an expunction is if you were acquitted of the crime and found not guilty, or if your case was dismissed.

Expunction vs. Non-Disclosure:

The legal term for having your criminal record sealed is called a non-disclosure. A motion for a non-disclosure is normally granted after you have completed a deferred adjudication, which would make you ineligible to have your record expunged. Non-disclosure normally requires a certain waiting period after your conviction. These waiting periods normally range from two to five years depending on the nature of your offense and whether you were charged with a felony or misdemeanor. There are also some minor offenses that are eligible for non-disclosure immediately. If your petition for non-disclosure is granted, government and state agencies are prohibited from disclosing the information to the general public, but can be used if you are prosecuted again for another crime.

State Laws vs. Texas Laws:

Depending on where you live it is possible that your state does not allow any records to be sealed or expunged. Some states only allow criminal records to be sealed but not expunged and others allow expunction and non-disclosure but not for more serious felony offenses such as murder, kidnapping, rape and other sex-related crimes.

Below are the current Texas Laws that deal with destroying and concealing criminal records. Legislature can change at any time, so it is very important that you find a knowledgeable attorney in your state that can guide you through the complex laws and give you peace of mind that your past is completely behind you!  If you have any other questions or would like a free evaluation of your case, find us on Facebook and we would be happy to address your concerns immediately!

TEXAS STATUTES REGARDING EXPUNCTION AND NON-DISCLOSURE

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Legal Rights

 

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How Do I Handle an Outstanding Warrant in Texas?


Wanted: Charlie Brown
Image by kevindooley via Flickr

Having an outstanding warrant for your arrest can be an alarming and daunting thing, understanding the process of resolving a warrant can help alleviate some of that anxiety.  Here are some basic guidelines on how to handle an Outstanding Warrant in Texas:

  • If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you are typically required to turn yourself in to resolve the warrant.  If you do not turn yourself in, you could be arrested anywhere at any time, no matter the offense, to resolve the warrant.
  • Once you have turned yourself in, or been arrested for the warrant, it will be determined whether you will be given a bond and if you are, what the bond amount will be.  Some warrants are issued with a recommended bond amount. This amount will likely be the bond you pay after you turn yourself in.
  • For warrants issued without a recommended bond amount, you will go before a magistrate who sets a bond amount, this typically occurs the following morning.  Without a recommended bond amount on your warrant, you will have to wait in jail until the morning before you can see a magistrate.  There are no particular types of cases that require you to go before a magistrate; it can be for any warrant that was not issued with a recommended bond amount already set.

After you know what amount has been set on your bond, there are a few options you can take.

  • You can pursue a cash bond which entails going through the jail to pay the full bond amount.  Once your case is closed, the bond amount is refunded in full.
  • Another option is to go through a bond company to bail you out of jail.  A bond company will typically charge 10% to 12% of the bond and is a non-refundable fee.
  • If you cannot afford to pay the bond or go through a bond company, you can wait out your time in jail until your case is resolved and possibly receive time served towards your case.

After you have been arrested for the accused offense, the court will set a hearing date for you to contest the charges against you.  At this point you should hire a criminal defense attorney to guide and assist you in resolving your warrant and in your court proceedings.   If you have questions about a warrant that has been issued for your arrest in Colin, Travis, Hays, Dallas, Tarrant, or Williamson County, you can visit us on Facebook for a free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation.

Helpful Links for Outstanding Warrants:

Travis County Warrant Search: https://public.co.travis.tx.us/wow/default.aspx

Austin Police Department Warrant List: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/warrants/warrantsearch.cfm

City of Fort Worth Warrants Online: http://www.fortworthgov.org/applications/warrantsonline/

Outstanding  Warrants: Texas Government Code § 404.058

Texas Law Enforcement Agencies and Courts – Call for a Texas Warrant Search

 

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Public Intoxication


Man passed out from drinking.Public Intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor, the same as a general traffic ticket, and punishable by a fine up to $500 with the possibility of jail time up to 12 hours. Some may consider a Public Intoxication charge a minor offense since it is only a Class C misdemeanor but having this on your record could very likely affect your future by hindering job or education opportunities.

According to Texas Penal Code § 49.02, if a person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that he may endanger himself or another person he is guilty of Public Intoxication. Intoxication means that a person lacks the normal use of mental or physical abilities because of the presence of alcohol, a drug (prescription, controlled, or even over-the-counter), a combination of substances, or any other substance in the body.

A public place means any place to which the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartments, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops. A person could be charged with Public Intoxication in a bar or even riding as a passenger in a car. At the time of the offense, the officer could merely issue a citation and release the individual to the care of an adult but an officer may arrest the person and have them remain in jail for up to 12 hours.

If a minor (under the age of 21) is arrested for Public Intoxication, the consequences do not stop with a mere fine. A minor’s license may be suspended for 30 days. A minor’s second offense can result in a suspension of 60 days and a third can result of 180 days.

Being arrested for Public Intoxication can be both a humiliating and traumatic experience but if you find yourself in that position, make sure you find an attorney that you can trust to do everything possible to help fight for you and win your case. There are good criminal defense attorneys serving Williamson, Travis, Hays, Collin,
Dallas, and Tarrant Counties that can assist you with your legal needs.

If you have any questions about what constitutes public intoxication or have been charged with any other alcohol related offense, feel free to leave a comment or visit us on Facebook and fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

 

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UCW or Possession of Prohibited Weapon


brass knuckles
Image via Wikipedia

Although Texas is considered a gun friendly state, it is unlawful to possess or carry many types of weapons in the Lone Star State. The laws concerning carrying a weapon can often be confusing and puzzling. This article is to help clarify those laws by explaining what it means to be charged with possession of a prohibited weapon or unlawfully carrying a weapon as we frequently handle these types of cases in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Collin, Tarrant, and Dallas Counties. Under Texas Penal Code § 46.02, it is a Class A misdemeanor for someone to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carry on or about his person a handgun, illegal knife or a club.

Examples of illegal knives and clubs include:

  • a single-edged knife with a blade length in excess of 5 ½ inches
  • a double-edged knife, a sword, or a spear
  • a club or anything made or adapted to strike someone and cause serious injury.

A weapon must be found on or about your person in order for you to be charged with Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon. The weapon must be within your reach without physically having to change your position. What this means is that you cannot be charged if a weapon was simply found somewhere in your vehicle, such as your trunk, if you are sitting in or driving your car. This only applies to weapons that are legal to carry in Texas. On the other hand, some weapons are illegal to own or have in your possession at all.

Some weapons that are illegal to own in Texas are:

  • switchblade knives (including butterfly knives),
  • brass knuckles
  • sawed-off firearms
  • short-barreled firearms,
  • explosive devices and
  • machine guns

If you are arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon or possession of a prohibited weapon, your weapon will most likely be taken from you and placed into evidence. If your case is dismissed or you are acquitted of the charge, it is possible to get your weapon back. As long as the weapon is not illegal, the judge may order the return of the weapon to you once it is released from evidence. However, depending on the outcome of the case it is also possible that the judge may order that the weapon be destroyed.

Possible punishments for unlawfully carrying of a weapon or being found in possession of a prohibited weapon include:

  • up to one year in county jail
  • a fine of up to $4,000
  • and possibly two years of post-conviction community supervision or
  • deferred adjudication with the requirement to complete up to 200 community service hours

If the charge is unlawfully carrying a weapon in a weapon-free zone, the offense is treated as a state-jail felony. If the offense is committed on any premise that is licensed or issued a permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages, the offense is then considered a third degree felony.

It is always under unfortunate circumstances that people must contact a criminal defense attorney but if you find yourself in that position, make sure you find an attorney that you can trust to do everything possible to help fight for you and win your case. If you have any questions about what constitutes Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon or have been charged with Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, feel free to leave a comment or visit us on Facebook and fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

 

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