February 17, 2011

Texas DWI Super Lawyer | Top DWI Trial Lawyer

Top Frisco DWI Lawyers
Top Plano DWI Trial Attorney

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Hello, my name is Troy Burleson and I am a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending citizens accused of DWI, DUI and other drunk driving offenses. If you have recently been arrested and charged with drunk driving, you probably have many questions and concerns. I built this web site to help answer questions from people like you about DWI laws, the criminal process and other related topics. I hope you find the information informative.

If you would like more information about your DWI case, or if you would like a free no-obligation consultation, contact my office today toll free at (866) 439-2182.


How Can I help you? If you are facing a drunk driving charge, you need an experience DWI attorney to protect your legal rights, defend your driving privileges and attempt to reinstate your good name. I have helped guide hundreds of clients through successful plea bargain negotiations and trials as a criminal defense attorney. While most lawyers claim to be experienced trial attorneys, few can match my actual trial experience. As an attorney, I have represented clients in over 200 trials. In 2009 alone, I defended clients in over 50 trials. Most “trial” attorneys will not have that many trials in 5 or 10 years. Because of my trial experience, I have earned a reputation from judges, prosecutors and other criminal defense attorneys as a tough, skilled trial attorney. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss how I can help with your case.

“I have dedicated my law practice to providing quality, cost-effective legal representation to people like you who are accused of a drunk driving offense. I look forward to meeting with you and helping guide you through this trying time in your life."

- Collin County, Texas DWI/DUI defense lawyer Troy Burleson
TroyBurlesonattorneyprofile.jpg
FREE evaluation regarding your DWI or DUI case

Driving While Intoxicated FAQ's
1. How can I save my driving privileges?
2. What are the biggest mistakes people make after being arrested for DWI?
3. What happens after a DWI arrest?
4. Will I go back to jail?
5. What mistakes do officers frequently make during DWI arrests?
6. What are the risks of having a trial?
7. I believe I was intoxicated and want to plead guilty; do I still need an attorney?

The Legal Limit. The legal limit for intoxication in Texas is a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, drivers can be stopped and cited for impaired driving due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. Texas also has a zero tolerance law; meaning it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol.

Texas DWI Laws

How much is too much? Impairment begins with the first drink. Gender, body weight, the number of drinks consumed and the amount of food in one's stomach affect the body's ability to handle alcohol. Women, younger people and smaller people, whether male or female, often have lower tolerances.

Definition of “Intoxicated.”
Under Texas law, “Intoxicated” means:
• NOT having the normal use of your mental faculties; or
• NOT having the normal use of your physical faculties; or
• HAVING an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of driving.


>Calculate Your BAC

What are your rights if stopped for DWI? If you are stopped by an officer and questioned about drinking, you have a RIGHT TO:
• Remain Silent;
• Refuse ALL Field Sobriety Tests;
• Refuse a Breath or Blood Test;
• Request a Hearing to Contest Your License Suspension.

Act Now to Protect Your Freedom, Driving Privileges and Legal Rights


Contact The Law Office of Troy P. Burleson, P.C. Today:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI or DUI within Collin County, Texas and the surrounding cities of McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, Dallas, Denton, Wylie, Addison, Prosper, Celina and The Colony, Texas and you need the help of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, call the Law Office of Troy P. Burleson at (866) 439-2182 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Texas DWI defense trial attorney.

CONTACT US TODAY

December 9, 2010

Best Frisco DWI Lawyer | Top Ten Collin County DWI Attorney | Best Plano DWI Lawyer

Top Frisco DWI Lawyers
Top Plano DWI Trial Attorney

Hello, my name is Troy Burleson and I am a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending citizens accused of DWI, DUI and other drunk driving offenses. If you have recently been arrested and charged with drunk driving, you probably have many questions and concerns. I built this web site to help answer questions from people like you about DWI laws, the criminal process and other related topics. I hope you find the information informative.

If you would like more information about your DWI case, or if you would like a free no-obligation consultation, contact my office today toll free at (866) 439-2182.


How Can I help you? If you are facing a drunk driving charge, you need an experience DWI attorney to protect your legal rights, defend your driving privileges and attempt to reinstate your good name. I have helped guide hundreds of clients through successful plea bargain negotiations and trials as a criminal defense attorney. While most lawyers claim to be experienced trial attorneys, few can match my actual trial experience. As an attorney, I have represented clients in over 200 trials. In 2009 alone, I defended clients in over 50 trials. Most “trial” attorneys will not have that many trials in 5 or 10 years. Because of my trial experience, I have earned a reputation from judges, prosecutors and other criminal defense attorneys as a tough, skilled trial attorney. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss how I can help with your case.

“I have dedicated my law practice to providing quality, cost-effective legal representation to people like you who are accused of a drunk driving offense. I look forward to meeting with you and helping guide you through this trying time in your life."

- Collin County, Texas DWI/DUI defense lawyer Troy Burleson
troy-image.jpg
FREE evaluation regarding your DWI or DUI case

Driving While Intoxicated FAQ's
1. How can I save my driving privileges?
2. What are the biggest mistakes people make after being arrested for DWI?
3. What happens after a DWI arrest?
4. Will I go back to jail?
5. What mistakes do officers frequently make during DWI arrests?
6. What are the risks of having a trial?
7. I believe I was intoxicated and want to plead guilty; do I still need an attorney?

The Legal Limit. The legal limit for intoxication in Texas is a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, drivers can be stopped and cited for impaired driving due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. Texas also has a zero tolerance law; meaning it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol.

Texas DWI Laws

How much is too much? Impairment begins with the first drink. Gender, body weight, the number of drinks consumed and the amount of food in one's stomach affect the body's ability to handle alcohol. Women, younger people and smaller people, whether male or female, often have lower tolerances.

Definition of “Intoxicated.”
Under Texas law, “Intoxicated” means:
• NOT having the normal use of your mental faculties; or
• NOT having the normal use of your physical faculties; or
• HAVING an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of driving.


>Calculate Your BAC

What are your rights if stopped for DWI? If you are stopped by an officer and questioned about drinking, you have a RIGHT TO:
• Remain Silent;
• Refuse ALL Field Sobriety Tests;
• Refuse a Breath or Blood Test;
• Request a Hearing to Contest Your License Suspension.

Act Now to Protect Your Freedom, Driving Privileges and Legal Rights


Contact The Law Office of Troy P. Burleson, P.C. Today:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI or DUI within Collin County, Texas and the surrounding cities of McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, Dallas, Denton, Wylie, Addison, Prosper, Celina and The Colony, Texas and you need the help of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, call the Law Office of Troy P. Burleson at (866) 439-2182 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Texas DWI defense trial attorney.

CONTACT US TODAY

December 7, 2010

PLANO DWI ATTORNEY | TROY BURLESON | COLLIN COUNTY DWI LAWYER | DUI LAWYER

Frisco, Plano, Dallas DWI/DUI Lawyer
Collin County DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer
Dallas County DWI Criminal Defense Attorney

Troyburleson%20005%20copy.jpg

Hello, my name is Troy Burleson and I am a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending citizens accused of DWI, DUI and other drunk driving offenses. If you have recently been arrested and charged with drunk driving, you probably have many questions and concerns. I built this web site to help answer questions from people like you about DWI laws, the criminal process and other related topics. I hope you find the information informative.

If you would like more information about your DWI case, or if you would like a free no-obligation consultation, contact my office today toll free at (866) 439-2182.


How Can I help you? If you are facing a drunk driving charge, you need an experience DWI attorney to protect your legal rights, defend your driving privileges and attempt to reinstate your good name. I have helped guide hundreds of clients through successful plea bargain negotiations and trials as a criminal defense attorney. While most lawyers claim to be experienced trial attorneys, few can match my actual trial experience. As an attorney, I have represented clients in over 200 trials. In 2009 alone, I defended clients in over 50 trials. Most “trial” attorneys will not have that many trials in 5 or 10 years. Because of my trial experience, I have earned a reputation from judges, prosecutors and other criminal defense attorneys as a tough, skilled trial attorney. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss how I can help with your case.

“I have dedicated my law practice to providing quality, cost-effective legal representation to people like you who are accused of a drunk driving offense. I look forward to meeting with you and helping guide you through this trying time in your life."

- Collin County, Texas DWI/DUI defense lawyer Troy Burleson
troy-image.jpg
FREE evaluation regarding your DWI or DUI case

Driving While Intoxicated FAQ's
1. How can I save my driving privileges?
2. What are the biggest mistakes people make after being arrested for DWI?
3. What happens after a DWI arrest?
4. Will I go back to jail?
5. What mistakes do officers frequently make during DWI arrests?
6. What are the risks of having a trial?
7. I believe I was intoxicated and want to plead guilty; do I still need an attorney?

The Legal Limit. The legal limit for intoxication in Texas is a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, drivers can be stopped and cited for impaired driving due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. Texas also has a zero tolerance law; meaning it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol.

Texas DWI Laws

How much is too much? Impairment begins with the first drink. Gender, body weight, the number of drinks consumed and the amount of food in one's stomach affect the body's ability to handle alcohol. Women, younger people and smaller people, whether male or female, often have lower tolerances.

Definition of “Intoxicated.”
Under Texas law, “Intoxicated” means:
• NOT having the normal use of your mental faculties; or
• NOT having the normal use of your physical faculties; or
• HAVING an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of driving.


>Calculate Your BAC

What are your rights if stopped for DWI? If you are stopped by an officer and questioned about drinking, you have a RIGHT TO:
• Remain Silent;
• Refuse ALL Field Sobriety Tests;
• Refuse a Breath or Blood Test;
• Request a Hearing to Contest Your License Suspension.

Act Now to Protect Your Freedom, Driving Privileges and Legal Rights


Contact The Law Office of Troy P. Burleson, P.C. Today:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI or DUI within Collin County, Texas and the surrounding cities of McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, Dallas, Denton, Wylie, Addison, Prosper, Celina and The Colony, Texas and you need the help of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, call the Law Office of Troy P. Burleson at (866) 439-2182 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Texas DWI defense trial attorney.

CONTACT US TODAY

December 7, 2010

Get out of Jail: Attorney Writ Bond

If someone is arrested in Plano, Texas, Frisco, Texas or McKinney, Texas for a crime, generally they must see a judge or a magistrate before a bond is set. Because of staffing issues, the judge or magistrate may not get there quickly. It can be anywhere from minutes, to hours, to days before someone sees a magistrate.

NEED OUT OF JAIL: Call Our 24 Hour Hot Line 214-793-0863

That's where we come in. In certain instances, we can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus to force the jail to set a bond. This can only be done in:
- Misdemeanor cases
- NO Family Violence/Assault cases
- NO Felony Cases
- NO Traffic Tickets

We first file paperwork to require a bond be set. This will change a "no bond set" to a bail bond. We then post that bond as your surety so that your friend or loved one can be released from jail.

Our law firm has put together a comprehensive overview concerning Collin County Writ Bonds in order to better inform you about the situation your loved one is facing. It is important to understand that the law and procedure in each state is different.

After reviewing the material specific to Plano Writ Bonds (Writs of Habeas Corpus), please feel free to contact our law firm:

For an Attorney Writ Bond call: 214-793-0863

December 7, 2010

Attorney Writ Bond Process

If you or someone you love has been arrested in Collin County Texas, an attorney writ bond may help to get out of jail fast. Our office provides attorney writ bond service in Frisco, Plano, McKinney and surrounding cities.

Need an ATTORNEY WRIT BOND? Call Our 24 Hour Hot Line 214-793-0863

For more information about the attorney writ bond process, read the article below that was originally posted on our website www.planowritbonds.com.

Frisco / Plano Writ Bond Process
Collin County Attorney Writ Bonds

If someone is arrested in Frisco, Texas for a crime, generally they must see a judge or a magistrate before a bond is set. Because of staffing issues, the judge or magistrate may not get there quickly. It can be anywhere from minutes, to hours, to days before someone sees a magistrate.

1. You will need to hire an attorney to handle the case. I will review the issues with you over the phone to determine if your case is one where a writ bond can be filed.

2. I will meet you (usually at the jail) to get you to sign some paperwork. I will fill out paperwork and get some bond paperwork signed by the jailed individual as well.

3. I will then head to the Collin County Jail to file the Writ of Habeas Corpus, along with the bond paperwork, and other paperwork. This will force the jail to set a bond.

4. I will then write the bond for the jailed individual. This will allow them to be released.

5. The Collin County Jail will then send a fax to the local (Frisco or Plano) and release the jailed person. You can remain there to give them a safe ride home.

6. I will already have given you plenty of materials for the jailed person to know "What happens from here." This will include upcoming hearings, our representation of them, etc.

After reviewing the material specific to Writ Bonds, please feel free to contact our law firm at 214-793-0863
with any questions you may have.

September 9, 2010

Texas DWI Super Lawyer | DWI Rising Star Attorney | Top DWI Trial Attorney

Top Frisco DWI Lawyers
Top Plano DWI Trial Attorney

Hello, my name is Troy Burleson and I am a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending citizens accused of DWI, DUI and other drunk driving offenses. If you have recently been arrested and charged with drunk driving, you probably have many questions and concerns. I built this web site to help answer questions from people like you about DWI laws, the criminal process and other related topics. I hope you find the information informative.

If you would like more information about your DWI case, or if you would like a free no-obligation consultation, contact my office today toll free at (866) 439-2182.


How Can I help you? If you are facing a drunk driving charge, you need an experience DWI attorney to protect your legal rights, defend your driving privileges and attempt to reinstate your good name. I have helped guide hundreds of clients through successful plea bargain negotiations and trials as a criminal defense attorney. While most lawyers claim to be experienced trial attorneys, few can match my actual trial experience. As an attorney, I have represented clients in over 200 trials. In 2009 alone, I defended clients in over 50 trials. Most “trial” attorneys will not have that many trials in 5 or 10 years. Because of my trial experience, I have earned a reputation from judges, prosecutors and other criminal defense attorneys as a tough, skilled trial attorney. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss how I can help with your case.

“I have dedicated my law practice to providing quality, cost-effective legal representation to people like you who are accused of a drunk driving offense. I look forward to meeting with you and helping guide you through this trying time in your life."

- Collin County, Texas DWI/DUI defense lawyer Troy Burleson
troy-image.jpg
FREE evaluation regarding your DWI or DUI case

Driving While Intoxicated FAQ's
1. How can I save my driving privileges?
2. What are the biggest mistakes people make after being arrested for DWI?
3. What happens after a DWI arrest?
4. Will I go back to jail?
5. What mistakes do officers frequently make during DWI arrests?
6. What are the risks of having a trial?
7. I believe I was intoxicated and want to plead guilty; do I still need an attorney?

The Legal Limit. The legal limit for intoxication in Texas is a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, drivers can be stopped and cited for impaired driving due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. Texas also has a zero tolerance law; meaning it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol.

Texas DWI Laws

How much is too much? Impairment begins with the first drink. Gender, body weight, the number of drinks consumed and the amount of food in one's stomach affect the body's ability to handle alcohol. Women, younger people and smaller people, whether male or female, often have lower tolerances.

Definition of “Intoxicated.”
Under Texas law, “Intoxicated” means:
• NOT having the normal use of your mental faculties; or
• NOT having the normal use of your physical faculties; or
• HAVING an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of driving.


>Calculate Your BAC

What are your rights if stopped for DWI? If you are stopped by an officer and questioned about drinking, you have a RIGHT TO:
• Remain Silent;
• Refuse ALL Field Sobriety Tests;
• Refuse a Breath or Blood Test;
• Request a Hearing to Contest Your License Suspension.

Act Now to Protect Your Freedom, Driving Privileges and Legal Rights


Contact The Law Office of Troy P. Burleson, P.C. Today:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI or DUI within Collin County, Texas and the surrounding cities of McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, Dallas, Denton, Wylie, Addison, Prosper, Celina and The Colony, Texas and you need the help of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, call the Law Office of Troy P. Burleson at (866) 439-2182 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Texas DWI defense trial attorney.

CONTACT US TODAY

February 2, 2009

Correction!

I need to make a correction to my post this morning. I inadvertently contributed a quote to the wrong Austin DWI Lawyer. I contributed a quote in an Austin American Statesman article to Austin Attorney Jamie Balagia. However, the quote was made by highly regarded Austin DWI Lawyer Jamie Spencer. Mr. Spencer has written extensively on his DWI blog and criminal law blog about a variety of subjects from the HGN Test to a famous federal prisoner's thoughts on American Justice.

Sorry, Mr. Spencer. The mistake was unintentional. To read more posts from Austin Defense Attorney Jamie Spencer, click the links below.

Austin DWI Attorney
Austin Criminal Defense Attorney

February 2, 2009

Want to Know If You Should Refuse an Alcohol Test? Ask an Elected Official.

“To take or not to take an alcohol test?” That is the question that every person who is suspected of drunk driving must ask. When faced with such a potentially life-altering decision, perhaps its best to get some guidance from our elected officials. According to a report in the Austin American Statesman, the rate of refusal for elected officials in Texas, when accused of drunk driving, is 100%. Among the general public, the rate of refusal is about 50%.

Why would 100% of our elected officials, who are accused of drunk driving, refuse to take an alcohol test? According to the report, Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, stated that he refused an alcohol test because, "I'd always heard from attorneys that you should refuse." Representative Krusee's decision to refuse resulted in his case being dismissed.

While I would agree with Representative Krusee that most defense attorneys, including this one, advise citizens to refuse alcohol tests, the reason most attorneys give such advice is because even if you take an alcohol test and pass you will still be charged with DWI.

Austin DWI defense attorney Jamie Balagia reiterated this point by stating, "Even a blood alcohol level below the legal limit doesn't guarantee the driver will be released." We have written about this very issue here before.

So, for anyone out there who wants to know whether or not to submit to alcohol testing the answer should be, "NO, refuse all tests!" Don't take it from me; take it from our elected officials.

Below see the complete story from the Austin American Statesman.

Politicians know to say no to blood alcohol test When Texans are arrested on suspicion of DWI, about half refuse to provide a breath or blood sample. Among elected officials, practically all do.

By Eric Dexheimer
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, February 01, 2009

State Rep. Mike Krusee was pulled over last April in Northwest Austin after police said they observed him driving erratically. Officers said he failed three roadside sobriety tests.

Krusee, whose DWI case was dismissed in November, disputes that. "I was shocked. I encourage people to look at the dashboard video." Yet when police asked him to blow into a Breathalyzer to measure his body's alcohol content, he refused.

He's not alone. A review of public records and published reports turned up more than a dozen elected officials in Texas — among them representatives, senators, judges and commissioners — who in recent years were arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. In each instance, police on the scene asked for a blood or breath sample to determine whether the driver's blood-alcohol concentration exceeded the legal limit of 0.08.

With only two exceptions — both of which occurred outside Texas — the politicians refused to consent.

"Among the general public, the refusal rate is about 50 percent, but at the Capitol, the refusal rate is about 100 percent," said Shannon Edmonds, governmental relations director for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.

Police and prosecutors say politicians fall into a larger category of savvy citizens — such as Longhorn baseball coach Augie Garrido, who declined to give a breath sample when he was arrested Jan. 17 on suspicion of DWI — who know that while there technically are consequences to saying no, they are often mitigated with skilled legal advice.

"I'd always heard from attorneys that you should refuse," Krusee said recently when asked about his arrest.

Critics say it is troubling when elected officials who have vowed to uphold the state's laws refuse to give evidence crucial to enforcing drunken driving statutes.

"Many people refuse to blow; it's a growing problem in Texas," said Karen Housewright, executive director of Texas Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "But we like to think our elected officials would behave as role models and hold themselves to a higher standard."

It also cuts to the heart of a vigorous debate that pits individual liberties against public safety. Texas leads the nation in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths , and about 40 percent of all the state's traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Yet the state is one of only 10 prohibiting sobriety checkpoints, and it has yet to join the growing number of states making breath and blood collection mandatory in suspected drunken-driving arrests. The highway traffic safety agency says at least 17 states now treat refusal as a separate crime.

In Texas, drivers give "implied consent" to submit to the tests when they obtain a drivers license. But with the exception of alcohol-related injury crashes, for which blood draws are mandatory, drivers can revoke that permission if arrested.

Police can obtain a search warrant to force DWI suspects to give blood, considered the gold standard for proving intoxication. In recent years, some jurisdictions have begun hauling detained drivers to hospitals or jails for blood draws.

Since 2005, Dalworthington Gardens, outside of Fort Worth, has trained its police officers to draw blood from DWI suspects. Last week, Williamson County announced it had hired full-time phlebotomists for that purpose. This evening, Austin police are enforcing their third "no refusal" initiative, for which a magistrate and nurse will be on standby for DWI arrests.

But the practice remains cumbersome and controversial. And even forced blood draws can be challenged by an experienced defense lawyer.

Last November, Alvarado police executed a search warrant to draw blood from Elizabeth Berry, a Tarrant County judge who refused a Breathalyzer test after police stopped her speeding SUV. Berry, whose attorney declined to comment, was subsequently charged with driving while intoxicated. In January , however, a judge ruled police had not produced enough evidence to justify the warrant and tossed the results.

'Notoriously unreliable'

In April 2007, Austin police pulled over a Cadillac being driven by state Rep. Harold Dutton after observing it weaving and recording it speeding. Police asked him to provide breath and blood samples. Although he at first agreed, he ultimately refused, according to a police report.

Dutton did not return a call to his Austin legislative office. His attorney, former Travis County prosecutor and state Rep. Terry Keel, declined to comment on the still-pending case. He termed breath tests "notoriously unreliable."

Defense attorneys say giving breath or blood can only hurt their clients' cases. Even a blood-alcohol level below the legal limit doesn't guarantee the driver will be released, said Jamie Spencer, an Austin lawyer specializing in DWI defense, "so it's a lose-lose proposition."

Drivers who refuse chemical tests are supposed to have their licenses suspended for 180 days, compared with only 90 days if they submit and fail. But the suspension can be challenged before an administrative judge — and, if denied, appealed again before a county judge.

Meanwhile, the defendant can keep driving with a temporary license. Krusee said he used one until his DWI case was dropped for lack of evidence — at which point his permanent license was returned.

"There are so many loopholes for someone to get his license back," said Tom Gaylor of the Texas Municipal Police Association. "It's a waste of time."

Without chemical proof of drunken driving, prosecutors must make a case solely on a police officer's observations — the driver's breath smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred, he could not walk a straight line — that are readily disputed in court. And thanks to TV shows like "CSI," juries tend to expect forensic evidence of intoxication, said Clay Abbott, DWI resource prosecutor of the district and county attorneys group .

"Juries are not comfortable with opinion crimes," he said.

Several bills addressing how and when DWI blood draws may occur have been introduced in this legislative session. Edmonds said the last bill that would have beefed up penalties for refusing to provide breath or blood died in the 2005 session. "Our legislators have shown no interest in exploring that issue," he said.

Experts say one reason for the politicians' reluctance may be that DWI is the rare crime that nearly everyone can envision themselves committing. "It takes away the 'us-versus-them' dynamic," Edmonds said.

Just say no

Even supporters of tougher laws have balked at testing when they become the accused.

In May 2001, then-state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos voted to increase the length of license suspensions for suspected drunken drivers who refused breath or blood tests. Six months later, an Austin police officer pulled him over as he drove away from the Four Seasons Hotel. When asked to take a breath test, the senator, like Dutton and Krusee, refused.

Reached at his Austin consulting firm, Barrientos declined to discuss the episode. In news reports at the time he said he regretted not providing a breath sample, explaining that he was nervous.

The senator eventually paid a fine, gave up his license for a time and performed community service. For those who choose to fight their charges, however, police and prosecutors concede that refusing a chemical test can help a defendant's legal strategy.

Travis County Judge Samuel Biscoe was pulled over by Austin police in August 2004 when they saw his car "drifting," according to the police report. Biscoe refused a breath test because, he explained in a recent e-mail to the Statesman, he was already in custody.

"I may have taken the test except when it was mentioned by the arresting officer, I was under arrest for failing the physical agility test, in the back seat of the patrol car, handcuffed," he wrote. A year later the case was dismissed when a special prosecutor agreed with Biscoe's explanation that his behavior could have been caused by a medical condition.

Published reports and police records show at least a half-dozen other elected officials who have refused breath tests in recent years; so far, none have been convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Two politicians arrested on suspicion of DWI while driving outside of Texas did give evidence when asked. When Oklahoma police stopped Tim Cole, district attorney for Montague, Archer and Clay counties, in 2006, his breath registered nearly twice the legal blood-alcohol limit. He pleaded guilty and resigned from office.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady of the Houston area blew into a Breathalyzer when asked after being arrested in South Dakota in 2005. A month later, he pleaded no contest and paid a $350 fine.

"No one is above the law," he said at the time.

edexheimer@statesman.com; 445-1774

January 31, 2009

DWI Cost: "The $10,000 Ride Home."

We are often asked about the "cost" of a DWI. There are many hidden costs to a DWI other that the potential criminal punishment. Most people don't realize, or are not told, about these hidden costs until after it is too late. Hidden costs may range from loss of job opportunities, education opportunities, raised insurance rates, driver's license surcharges, probation fees, etc.

In the article below by Christopher Solomon entitled "DUI: The $10,000 ride home", some of the hidden cost of DUI/DWI are explained. If you are currently facing a DWI/DUI charge, I highly recommend you read the article. Her it is in its entirety.

DUI: The $10,000 ride home A fine is just the start of what you'll pay for a drunken-driving conviction. Insurance-rate increases, legal bills, alcohol treatment and licensing fees can push the cost into five figures. By Christopher Solomon

If you need any more reasons not to drink and drive, consider this: A driving-under-the-influence conviction is a financial wrecking ball. A typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, even if you didn't hit anything or hurt anybody.

The penalties are intended to be discouraging. Alcohol played a role in nearly 40% of U.S. automobile fatalities in 2005. That's 16,885 deaths, a figure nearly unchanged over the past decade, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But states are cracking down. The last of the 50 states have lowered their thresholds for DUI to 0.08% blood-alcohol content. Police arrested 1.37 million people last year for driving under alcohol's grip, about one in every 140 licensed drivers, the FBI says.
But forget the humiliation and hassle for now. Forget the toll on lives. Just look at what a DUI does to your wallet:

Bail. You'll have to shell out bail to get released after your arrest. Cost: $150-$2,500.
(Costs shown in this article are for first-time DUI offenders. Costs and penalties are often more severe if you're a repeat offender or your blood-alcohol content is above 0.15%.)

Towing. When you're arrested, your car gets towed. In some places, retrieving it costs only $100 or so. But Chicago, sensing a moneymaking opportunity, ensures it really hurts: The city charges about $1,200 for the first 24 hours and $50 for each additional day of storage, says Chicago DUI defense attorney Harold Wallin. If you can't afford to get your car after 30 days, the city auctions it and then comes after you with a civil judgment for the impoundment bill, if the car's sale didn't cover the fees. Some cities around Chicago are doing the same, Wallin says. Cost: $100-$1,200.

Insurance. One of the biggest hits a drunken driver takes is in his insurance premiums.
"If you get a DUI conviction, it will likely affect your insurance rates for (at least) the next three to five years," says Carole Walker, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

How much? "They could double, triple, even quadruple," Walker says. Some companies such as State Farm Insurance will move you to a portion of the company that handles higher-risk policies.
But "many insurance companies will drop you even upon arrest, regardless of conviction," says Steven Oberman, a Knoxville, Tenn., DUI attorney. And if your policy isn't renewed, you'll have to try to find insurance someplace else or see whether your state has an assigned-risk pool for insurance. Either way, you'll pay for it. For example: Illinois estimates that the high-risk insurance costs an additional $1,500 a year for three years, on average.
Why three years? Most insurance companies look at records for at least three years and sometimes for five years, Walker says. To begin rebuilding your reputation in an insurer's eyes, you have to keep your nose completely clean -- no speeding tickets or other traffic citations.
The roadside embarrassment is just the start. Watch out for the hidden cost of a traffic ticket. Don't pay the price if you don't have to.

But the financial impact of that DUI doesn't end after three years: You'll likely have to go as many as five more years, incident-free, to get back to the "preferred" status with the lowest premiums that you perhaps once enjoyed. In short, "it can be up to eight years afterward" that the DUI can affect you, Walker says. Ouch. Cost: $4,500 or more.

Legal fees. Attorneys might charge as little as $500 to enter a quick plea. But with so much at stake, many people accused of DUI fight the charge. That's when things start to add up.
Attorney Oberman says legal representation can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000, depending on the rigor and complexity of the defense. But that's not the only fee. Oberman says a vigorous defense sometimes requires hiring an investigator ($1,000 to $3,000) to examine the arrest scene to poke holes in the arresting officer's story. There may be a need for expert witnesses who can testify about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of field sobriety tests ($3,000 and up). Usually, attorney Wallin says, fees are $2,000 to $3,000 for a trial on a first-offense case, although they can climb to $7,500 or more with some lawyers. "A lot of times, my fees are some of the smallest expenses that people have to worry about," given all the other costs, he says. Cost: $2,000-$25,000.

Fines. Fines and court fees for breaking the law range from state to state, from a minimum of $300 in Colorado and $685 in Washington to as much as $1,200 in Illinois. "The fines have gone up dramatically over the last few years in Illinois," says Wallin. "A few years ago in Chicago, the typical DUI fine was about $300 on the first offense. And now it's $900 to $1,200." Cost: $300-$1,200.
Alcohol evaluation. An evaluation is usually required of anyone who is sentenced by the court for drunken driving. Cost: $181 in Colorado, for example.
Alcohol education and treatment. If you're convicted, you usually have to undergo an education or treatment program, especially if you want to get your license again. Treatment can vary hugely in scope and extent. Cost: $350-$2,000 for basic treatment.
License reinstatement fees. Once a driver has shown, by completing courses and treatment, that he deserves his license back, the state charges him for the reissue. Cost: $60-$250.
Additional fees. Colorado, for example, will slap you with myriad other fees:
• $10 jail filing fee.
• $78 Victim Assistance Fund payment.
• $25 Victim Compensation Fund payment.
• $90 for the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund.
• $15 Brain Injury surcharge.
• $25 Victim Impact Panel assessment.
If you had been particularly drunk, a judge might order that an ignition lock be placed on your car to test your breath and prevent your car from starting if you're intoxicated. In Tennessee, for example, this costs $65-$70 a month. Cost: $308 and up.
The unexpected and sometimes unquantifiable costs

Finally, there are several other costs that you need to remember:
• Life-insurance-premium increases. With a DUI arrest or conviction, you could see an increase in your life-insurance bills because insurers may ask if your license has ever been suspended.
• Lost time = lost money. People who've gotten DUIs report missing a lot of work (and therefore losing a lot of income) dealing with their mistake, as a result of court dates, community service and sometimes a jail sentence. That doesn't even count the lost free time.
• Lose the license? Lose the job. For many people who need to drive to and from their jobs -- much less those who drive for their jobs -- losing a license can be devastating. And here's a shocker: In several states, including Washington, your license may be suspended for 90 days simply upon your arrest for DUI, regardless of whether you end up being convicted. If you're convicted, your license can be revoked for a year, or longer in other states, until you complete all the court's requirements and pay all fines.
• No drunks in the cockpit or the ER. If you're a doctor, stockbroker, airline pilot, lawyer or nurse, a DUI conviction could affect the status of your professional license, Oberman said.
• It's not good for the résumé. A DUI lingers on your criminal record for employers to see if they do a background check, harming your future job prospects. In Washington state, a DUI conviction also stays on your driving record for 14 years, and an employer can ask for and receive that information.
Adding it up
So in the end, how much does a DUI cost?
The STOP-DWI Office in Erie County, N.Y., estimates that a drunken-driving conviction there costs $9,500 -- if no one is injured and there's no accident. Colorado estimates about the same thing.
Illinois' secretary of state pegs the amount closer to $10,600 but says the figure would be nearly $15,000, on average, if people counted the lost income from all the hassles.
Any way you slice it, it's a pricey mistake.
But the biggest thing that's lost isn't money, Oberman says. "The biggest thing here is the stigma that you get. Everybody looks at you and says, 'Yeah, he's the drunk driver.' And the stigma doesn't have a financial cost. But the stigma does have both a social cost and an employment cost."

January 29, 2009

If only our respect for the legal system could be as high as our respect for journalist!

As many of you may have read or heard about, a Tarrant County judge was recently arrested for DWI. The arresting officer obtained a blood warrant and the judge was forced to provide a specimen of her blood. The defense successfully challenged the validity of the warrant which resulted in a ruling that the blood test result would not be allowed to be presented as evidence during the prosecution.

Apparently, this ruling did not go over well with Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow who wrote the following article in the Morning News:

Plenty of blame to go around in Tarrant judge's DWI case

06:38 AM CST on Thursday, January 29, 2009

STEVE BLOW

A week has passed and I'm still hacked. Many of you are, too. So let's talk about it.

I'm referring to the ruling last week that threw out the blood-alcohol test in the drunken-driving case against Tarrant County Judge Elizabeth Berry.

Compounding my frustration is that I don't know exactly whom to be mad at.

Berry was stopped for speeding last year in Alvarado, south of Fort Worth. She refused to take a field sobriety test, a breath test or a blood test, so a municipal judge signed a search warrant authorizing a blood test against her wishes.

Last week, after a three-hour hearing, Judge Robert Dohoney ruled that the results of the blood test can't be used against Berry because the arresting officer's supporting affidavit was too vague.

Too vague?

It said Berry was driving 92 miles an hour, appeared confused and unusually quiet, had eight beer bottles on the floorboard of her SUV and the smell of alcohol on her breath.

I'm no legal expert, but let's just apply the parent test. If you caught your kid driving almost 30 mph over the speed limit, acting weird, with beer bottles in the car and smelling of alcohol, who isn't going to think "drunk"?

But that's just common sense. And as we have seen before, courts and common sense often don't mix.

In the Johnson County courtroom last week and in a phone conversation with me this week, defense attorney Mark Daniel really tortured the limits of common sense on what arresting officer Taylor Archibald should have included in his affidavit.

"It just said he observed beer bottles in the floorboard. Daniel said. "Which floorboard? The front or the back? If in back, which side, right or left? Were the bottles empty or full? Were they warm or cold?"

When I mentioned the smell of alcohol as solid information, he attacked that as too vague, too. "Was it strong or minimal? Was it the smell of beer? Or bourbon. Or isopropyl alcohol?"

Daniel bristled at my suggestion that all this amounts to technicalities. "Some people may call it technicalities. Some call it the Constitution," he said. "And I think the Constitution matters."

Then he really landed a low blow, saying maybe I ought to be commiserating with Dick Cheney on what a darn nuisance that Constitution is.

OK, OK. I do fully support our protections afforded by the Constitution. I know specific standards must be met. I accept the painful reality that a few guilty may go free in protecting the rights of us all.

And that's why I say I'm frustrated by not knowing exactly where to direct my anger. It sure looks like Officer Archibald and the Alvarado Police Department have to take some blame here, too.

Common sense may be enough elsewhere. But officers should know what the legal requirements are to support a search warrant.

In last week's hearing, it came out that Officer Archibald's original affidavit did not include the crucial information about alcohol on Berry's breath. That was added only after the municipal judge coached the officer on the need for more specific information before she could sign the warrant.

It will be a real shame if this case falls apart on the basis of sloppy police work. It's already a shame that the case has further eroded respect for our legal system.

A jury may never get to decide Judge Berry's fate, but voters will have the chance next year. And as far as I know, common sense is still permitted there.

If you read Mr. Blow's column you may have the impression that the case against Judge Barry has been thrown out and that she will not be prosecuted for DWI. If you have this impression, you are not alone as I have had several people ask me about this case and specifically why it was being thrown out on a technicality. A belief that this case is being thrown out is completely false. The case against Judge Barry has not been thrown out, only the results of the blood test. However, I don't blame people who read Mr. Blow's column for this mistaken belief, I blame Mr. Blow.

I have two questions for Mr. Blow. First, "Did Mr. Blow really believe the case has been thrown out?" And second, "If Mr. Blow knew the case WOULD NOT be dismissed why did he slant his column to give readers the false impression that the case was over?"

If Mr. Blow really believed the case was going to be thrown out then he should spend a little more time on research before firing off columns. In a metroplex with thousands of attorneys and two law schools, it should not have been hard for Mr. Blow to discover the case is not thrown out, only evidence illegally obtained by an improper search warrant is excluded.

Courts routinely hold pre-trial hearings to determine the admissibility of evidence that is anticipated to be brought up in future trials. In this case, Judge Barry's attorneys challenged the warrant and evidence obtained through its use, for good reason. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unlawful searches and seizures without due process of law.

The warrant in Judge Barry's case was properly challenged for being vague and because there were allegations that the judge who signed the warrant gave the officer suggestions on what to put in the warrant. I did not attend the pre-trial hearing, but a judge agreed with the defense and ruled the warrant was improper.

Judge Barry will still face a charge for DWI. Just because the warrant and evidence obtained from its use was ruled illegal does not mean that the Tarrant County DA will dismiss the case against Judge Barry.

Instead, the State will proceed to trial against Judge Barry with all other evidence. That evidence includes: 1) driving 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, 2) having numerous beer bottles on the floor board, 3) the odor of alcohol on Judge Barry's breath, (4) videos from the arrest, and 5) Judge Barry's refusal to perform sobriety test which, under state law, the prosecutors may argue that her refusal is a sign of intoxication.

At trial, a jury will determine if this evidence is enough to convict Judge Barry. The jury may also implement Mr. Blow's "Parent Test" if they so choose. If the jury decides Mr. Blow's "Parent Test" is enough to convict Judge Barry, then she will be convicted.

In regard to my second question for Mr. Blow, if he knew that Judge Barry's case was not going to be thrown out, why did he slant his column to leave reader's with the impression that it would? As a defense attorney, I often spend more time during jury selection rehabilitating potential jurors, due to columns like Mr. Blow's, than I do asking relevant questions to determine if they would be fair jurors.

Mr. Blow may not be happy with a "technicality", such as a violation of Judge Barry's constitutional rights that prevented illegally obtained evidence from being admitted. However, he should have focused on why the warrant was illegal and not on attacking the defense attorney. However, that may not have sold papers. Misleading readers to believe a drunk judge was getting away with something does, I guess.

In the end, it doesn't really matter. Mr. Blow has the bully pulpit to publish his column to the masses who read the Dallas Morning News. I am just an attorney with a blog that few people read. I will continue to educate jurors who are tainted by columns like Mr. Blow's. I just hope that the next time one of my clients deserves to be exonerated because his or her constitutional rights were violated, that the jurors don't have the same mentality as Mr. Blow.

Oh, and I also hope that one day my respect for the legal system will be as high as my respect for journalist.

December 8, 2008

Alvin Finkley: Southwest Institute of Forensic Science (SWIFS)

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Trial testimony from Alvin Finkley: Southwest Institute of Forensic Science (SWIFS), February 2006. Dallas, Texas.

December 8, 2008

Lori Fuller: Southwest Institute of Forensic Science (SWIFS)

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Click the above link for trial testimony from Lori Fuller, intoxilyzer technical supervisor, Southwest Institute of Forensic Science.