I recently wrote about the fact that many individuals are not aware that jail phone calls are recorded. As a Houston DWI Lawyer I see individuals saying things they shouldn’t and getting themselves into trouble. Unfortunately I also see people sitting in the back of police cars running their mouth for minutes and minutes at a time. This is not smart, and there are a few reasons why.
First, you should never make any statements about your case to anyone other than your attorney…period! You are never going to talk your way out of getting arrested, but you can easily talk your way into a conviction! The dumbest things you can do when arrested is talk to an officer, or make some sort of statement that is recorded and can be used against you.
Second, there are usually cameras in DWI units! Everything you say is going to be recorded. The prosecutors (along with you and your attorney) are going to get a copy of the video and all of your wonderful words are going to be there for everyone to hear. If you say dumb things, or make yourself look like a fool, the assistant district attorney working on your case is going to take notice. You can turn a perfect dismissal into a potential trial just by saying the wrong things.
Finally, if you do end up having to go to trial, the jury is potentially going to see the video and listen to your words as well. It is human nature to either instinctively like someone or not. If you make yourself look and sound like a bad person, that’s what a jury is going to perceive you as. And the last thing that you want is a jury thinking poorly of you. On the other hand, if the jury doesn’t have any rambling video of you, they are more than likely never going to hear from you. It is much better to have them know nothing about you, then to have them form an opinion based on a few seconds of anger/disappointment/fear.
Bottom line is don’t talk and be aware of your surroundings! If you are reading this it might be too late, but maybe you can tell your friends and they can tell their friends and so on. Any Houston DWI Attorney will tell you the same thing. Make them prove you’re guilty based on the evidence at hand, not on what you say. If you are arrested, contact a DWI Lawyer in Houstonwho can help you today.
Texting and driving is a dangerous. It is also a great way to get pulled over and suspected of DWI. Every Houston DWI Attorney has had a client come into their office and explain the reason they were weaving was because they were texting a friend, not because they were drunk.
Studies have shown that texting while driving is actually more dangerous than driving while intoxicated and driving while on the phone combined. I mean, think about it. When you are drunk you are watching the road. When you are talking on your phone, you are watching the road. But when you text, you are looking at your phone searching for each letter/number.
So what does this have to do with DWI? When you swerve around the road it looks like you are drunk! So if you have had anything to drink at all you should just turn your phone off and put it away. It is not worth being arrested. You might be driving legally (under a blood alcohol level of .08), but you are going to appear as if you were more intoxicated based on your bad driving. Prosecutors love to use bad driving facts against you in court, so don’t give them any more ammunition than necessary.
Some attorneys have used a texting while driving defense, and sure, the studies related to texting while driving could show that was the reason for the poor driving. But what the jury is going to be able to interpret is, “Well he wasn’t legally drunk, he just looked that bad on the road because he was doing something that has been proven to be even more dangerous than driving drunk!”
So legally it could be a good defense, but you sure are not going to win the heart of jurors. But if you are stuck in the unfortunate position of being charged with DWI when you were not drunk, then you need to contact a Houston DWI Attorney as soon as possible. This defense is just one of many creative defenses that have been thrown around the courthouse.
Of course every case is different, so this might not pertain to you. But hopefully you can read this, store it in the memory bank, pass it on to friends, and try to prevent it from happening in the future. Again, if something does happen, a good DWI Lawyer in Houston should be able to break the case down for you and explain every possible outcome.
Almost every Houston DWI Attorney has had a client who has been put in the unfortunate situation of placing a SCRAM device on their ankle. A SCRAM device is an ankle monitor used by certain courts in Harris county (and sometimes probation departments) that monitors an individual’s blood alcohol level. The SCRAM device works by taking sweat samples from your body every 20-30 minutes and basically uses that to tell whether or not you have been drinking. Every time the SCRAM monitor takes a reading, it stores the data, and it is eventually forwarded to the court/probation department.
Most commonly this type of monitor is placed on high risk defendants, defendants with multiple DWI convictions, or individuals who have had alcohol problems during the course of their pending cases. Some courts (which exist, but are few and far between) will place this monitor on first time offenders while the case is pending. This is an unfortunate situation that arises from time to time, and unfortunately there is little defendants can do but hope their attorney can work something out with the judge.
Sometimes a standard interlock device, or at home interlock device can be substituted for the SCRAM. Both these options are better since they are both cheaper. Price is definitely one of the negatives of the ankle monitor. The SCRAM device ranges in price from $450-$500 per month, while the at home device costs roughly $150 per month, and the standard vehicle interlock costs around $80 per month. Other negatives to the SCRAM device are that the device is big. No one likes to walk around looking like a criminal, and this device looks like it belongs on a criminal. And the SCRAM monitor is a manmade science, the accuracy of the readings are questionable, but unfortunately readings are taken seriously by courts.
If you have a SCRAM monitor placed on your body in Harris County you should consult with a DWI Lawyer in Houston to see if you have any options available. Your Houston DWI Attorney should be able to consult you on your particular case and tell you what the best (and worst) case scenario is.
As a Houston DWI Attorney I get the opportunity to work in front of a lot of judges. When it comes to DWI, every judge has their own opinions and their own rules regarding pre-trial conditions. One thing that attorneys see often in court is the placement of an interlock device in a defendant’s car before they are ever convicted. An interlock device is a basically a machine that is placed in your vehicle that you need to blow into to get the car to start. If you have any alcohol in your system the car will not start and a report of the violation is sent to the court.
Now personally, I hate the fact that interlocks are placed on defendants who have not been found guilty. I mean what ever happened to the presumption of innocence? But one thing that is especially odd is the way different courts go about implementing different types of interlocks as part of pre-trial conditions.
One thing that particularly annoys criminal defendants is when a judge orders a “camera interlock” to be placed in their vehicle. These camera interlocks take a photo when the machine is being used. Do they snap photos other times? Does the company have access to turn on the camera at their convenience? Who knows for sure, but it certainly makes individuals feel like their privacy has been violated. And to make it worse, that camera makes the rental fee more expensive as well.
Now I have never been a fan of the camera interlock before, but I can tell you one reason why they can be useful. Now again, I would rather no interlocks be placed on vehicles pre-conviction, but since they are placed in vehicles frequently I have run across one scenario where the camera is useful.
Most of the time interlock violations carry stiff consequences which can include having your bond revoked. I had a client recently who had multiple violations and was in serious trouble with the court. We were able to speak to the judge, get copies of the pictures, and prove that it wasn’t my client, but one of his family members who kept blowing into the machine with alcohol.
So for once having the camera paid off, but my opinion as a DWI Lawyer in Houston is that these interlocks shouldn’t be in defendant’s vehicles anyway. Hopefully I will see a day as a Houston DWI Attorney where innocent people do not have to place a machine in their car for no reason. And if they do, hopefully the county will one day realize the injustice of this and reimburse innocent people for the money they were forced to spend.
Starting this month (September 2011), every Houston DWI Attorney has started receiving their first “Extreme” DWI cases. The new “Extreme DWI” law went into effect this month, and changes the charge from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor for all first time DWI offenders who have a blood alcohol level of .15 or more.
Before this change, any first time DWI was a class B misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and/or a $2000 fine. A class A misdemeanor on the other hand is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and/or a $4000 fine. So this law essentially doubles the possible punishment for a first time DWI.
I think that any DWI lawyer in Houston would agree that this doesn’t make much sense. What is the purpose of the new law? To punish? To keep people from driving drunk? Why .15 and not .149?
First of all, most people who are drinking are not going to be thinking about their blood level. If they are going to drive, they are going to drive. So this law isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about getting behind the wheel. Chances are, 99% of drunk drivers are not going to have a clue this law even exists.
If this was meant to “punish”, then we will just have to see exactly what the state plans to do with these cases before we know if that makes any sense. One thing this law does do is give individuals accused of DWI another reason to refuse a breath test. I think officers should have to explain this to everyone before they offer a breath test. The conversation should go something like this:
Officer: “I am requesting a specimen of your breath. If you refuse you are going to be charged with a class b misdemeanor punishable up to 6 months in jail. If you take the breath test and blow over .15 then you are going to be charged with a class a misdemeanor and you can get up to 1 year in jail. Either way, you are not going home…at least until someone posts your bond.”
Arrestee: “I refuse!!!”
Yeah, wishful thinking! Bottom line is, the law is in effect and you have to be aware of it and the consequences that surround it. Make sure to hire a Houston DWI Attorney who is willing to work hard for you.