Butler Law Firm Addresses the Differences Between the Charges You Could Be Facing

What Is The Difference Between A Misdemeanor And A Felony?

So much is put on the line when you are charged with any kind of crime. From court-ordered community service or classes to fines and imprisonment, as well as the long-term consequences that are associated with your record having a conviction on it, your future and freedom can be threatened by any type of criminal charge.

Our expert defense attorney Houston team here at Butler Law Firm have decades worth of combined experience in defending clients who have been charged with all kinds of federal and state crimes, including misdemeanors as well as felonies. Although we work aggressively on all cases that we handle, felonies and misdemeanors do have distinct differences between them that any person accused of a crime needs to know about.

In Texas, the major offense groups of crimes are felonies and misdemeanors. The classifications help to identify the seriousness of an alleged offense, and for determining what the potential punishment will be. The following are some of the key differences between these two offenses:

Misdemeanors

The major defining characteristic for this offense it that the punishment does not exceed a one-year jail term – which typically takes place at a county jail. Despite the fact that all cases are different and punishment may be impacted by the specific circumstances that are involved, the common punishments carried by misdemeanors include the following:

  • Court fees, fines, and restitution
  • Court ordered treatment or classes
  • Community service
  • Imprisonment not exceeding a 1-year term
  • Probation

There are several different misdemeanor crimes in Texas, ranging from simple assault and shoplifting to a major of first and second DWIs. There are also three separate categories these misdemeanors are classified into that refer to the potential penalties and severity of the offense:

Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment terms of up to one year in jail and fines up to $4,000.

Class B Misdemeanor: Imprisonment terms up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000

Class C Misdemeanor: No jail time and fines of up to $500.

Felonies

Butler Law Firm | Felony DWI in Houston TexasIn a majority of states, felonies are usually classified as crimes that may result in spending one year or longer inside a state prison. If the offense was a federal crime then the prison sentence is at a federal penitentiary. Felonies in Texas include crimes that may be punishable by six months to life imprisonment terms and death in some cases. Felonies are considered to be the most serious type of criminal offense. They may carry life-changing and severe penalties including:

  • Restitution / large fines
  • Court ordered treatment or classes
  • Probation
  • Loss of civil rights privileges (gun ownership, voting)
  • Lengthy imprisonment terms

In addition to harsh penalties that the court hands down, another thing that is notable about felonies is they can seriously limit opportunities for conviction individuals. Frequently, felonies may end up being a serious stigma that can severely impact the individual’s ability to find a job and earn a living, to attend higher education or receive funding. Felonies can hurt a person’s reputation as well. There are 5 different felony offense levels in Texas:

State Jail: Fines of up to $10,000 and state jail terms of 6 months up to 2 years

Third Degree: Fines of up to $10,000 and state prison terms of 2 to 10 years

Second Degree: Fines up to $10,000 and state prison terms of 2 to 20 years

First Degree: Fines of up to $10,000 and state prison terms of 5 to 99 years

Capital: Life sentence or death with no parole

Other Factors To Take Into Consideration

Felony and misdemeanor crimes, in addition to their penalties, vary widely depending on the situation. There are some other important considerations:

Wobblers: There are crimes that are called wobblers, which means the prosecutor might have the discretion of charging a person with the crime of either a felony or a misdemeanor. In those cases, getting a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor may be a positive resolution to the situation.

Aggravating Factors: Certain aggravating factors in both felony and misdemeanor cases can increase the penalties faced by an individual, and elevate a misdemeanor into a felony in some cases. Those aggravating factors might include crimes committed against certain types of people (children, law enforcement, vulnerable adults), crimes committed while the person is on probation, or past criminal history or prior convictions.

Whether you or a loved one has been charged with either a felony or misdemeanor, remember that both of these offenses pose serious long-term as well as immediate consequences and need to be taken very seriously. Be sure to call our proven defense attorney Houston legal team here at Butler Law Firm as soon as you can after being charged.

Please contact us for your FREE consultation if you want to discuss your case with one of our firm’s attorneys.

How To Avoid A BWI Or Boating Accident In Texas

Avoid A Boating Accident In Texas With These Crucial Tips

Texans enjoy their boats and with over 4,000 square miles of fresh water, it’s no secret why they love their boats. The state is a great place to have a goat, but boating accidents are quite common in the state, and accidents are more common there than many other states. In fact, in 2015 there were over 150 boating accidents and 39 of them were fatal. This is why it’s important to know how to use a boat safely.

If you own a boat, you should know how to avoid an accident. You don’t want to suffer an injury, nor do you want to be faced with a lawsuit. With that said, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Know The Laws

You should learn about boating laws in Texas to understand a BWI, especially in regards to the equipment you need to have on board, as required by law. The US Coast Guard has a mobile app you can use to find laws pertaining to this. You can learn what kind of safety equipment you need to have and you can request a safety check via the app.

2. Educate Yourself On Safety

State law requires those who are born after 1993 to take a boater education course, which can be completed online. Courses are sometimes required if you violate the Water Safety Act, but even if you’re not required to take a safety course, you should. Taking a course can refresh your memory of the safety rules and you can learn a lot. These courses tend to be quick, but very informative, so take advantage of them.

3. Get Boat Insurance

You don’t have to get boating insurance, but you should get a policy anyway. Remember, your home or auto insurance policy will do you no good if you are involved in a boating accident, but boating insurance will help you repair or replace your boat. It can also provide you with liability coverage, so do yourself a favor and shop around for boating insurance and choose the policy that offers you the most coverage at the best price.

4. Never Drink And Drive

Never drink and drive while operating your boat. Alcohol is involved in over half of boating accidents, and drunk driving in a boat is illegal in the state of Texas. If you’re arrested, you could be sent to jail for up to six months and you may have to pay a hefty fine. The state may also take your driver’s license away.

5. Get Legal Help

Butler Law Firm | Texas BWIIf you are ever involved in a boating accident, then get yourself a BWI attorney as soon as possible. Many attorneys will offer you a free initial consultation, which is where they will learn a little about your case and they may look for gaps in your coverage. Make sure you have legal representation if you are being sued or if you want to pursue a lawsuit after being involved in a boating accident because the last thing you want to do is defend or pursue a lawsuit without an expert in your corner.

Boating is fun, but you need to be safe. You don’t want to put yourself at risk or other boaters, so always operate your boat in a safe manner. With that said, enjoy your summer and time on the water, and feel free to come back to this article if you need a refresher on how to avoid a boating accident.

A Short Guide On How To Approach Your DWI Arrest In Houston

What To Do If You Are Arrested For DWI

Penalties for DWI are incredibly stiff in the state of Texas. Knowing what steps to take after your arrest can help minimize the severity of the penalties that you may face. Check out the following tips for what to do if you are arrested for DWI:

1. Make sure that your mailing address is correct.

Any notices or letters from the Department of Public Safety will be sent to the address that you have on your driver’s license. You will need to keep an eye out for letters so that you don’t miss any important notifications.

For instance, drivers who are arrested for DWI have an opportunity to request a hearing to challenge having their driver’s license suspended. If you miss a notification about setting up this hearing, you may miss your chance to dispute the suspension of your license. That is why it is so important to make sure that your address is correct and to frequently check your mail for new letters or notifications.

The best way to deal with a DWI arrest is to contact a lawyer right away. Your lawyer can help ensure that everything is handled in a timely manner and that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

2. Make sure that you are in compliance with all of the conditions of your bond.

Butler Law Firm | DWI Arrests in Houston TXThere are certain instances where you may be required to install a deep lung device (DLD) in your vehicle. For instance, if your breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.15 or if you have already been arrested for DWI in the past, you may be required to use one of these devices. It is absolutely essential that you get in touch with the Bond Supervision Department by the date listed on the court order that you receive. Not only will you need to have the device installed by a specific date but you will also need to be able to prove to the officer in charge of supervising your bond that it has been installed. Along with that, there are fees that will need to be paid on a monthly basis.

If you fail to live up to the conditions of your bond, a warrant for your arrest may wind up being issued. This is another area where a qualified DUI lawyer in Houston can help. They can make sure that you are properly following the conditions of your bond so that you don’t wind up getting into any additional trouble.

3. Avoid consuming any alcohol while you are on bond.

Even if the conditions of your bond don’t require you to avoid alcohol, it is usually a good idea to do so anyway. Although it is unlikely, the last thing that you want is to get charged with an additional offense that is related to drinking while you have a DWI case that is still active.

Alcohol can be addictive. If you have a hard time avoiding drinking, you should mention it to your lawyer. They may be able to help you schedule a professional evaluation. From there, if necessary, they can also help you get any treatment that you may need.

If you are arrested for DWI, don’t just sit around and wait for your case to run its course. Instead, reach out to our DWI attorney right away. The more quickly you can get legal help, the less likely you are to inadvertently do anything that could make your situation worse.

DWI’s Impacting A Good Portion Of Your Life

The Impact Of A DWI In Texas

Butler Law Firm | DWI In TexasWhen a person is arrested, they will often panic. This is especially true if this is a person’s first arrest. While it is never good to be arrested, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. To put it into perspective, remember that just being arrested doesn’t mean you’re guilty. It also doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted of a crime. What it does mean is you should find an experienced attorney who specializes in Texas criminal law. If this is a DWI 1st offense, you should try and hire a criminal defense attorney who specializes in Texas DWI defense. They can answer all of your questions including how long does a DWI stay on your record?

Expunction And Expungement

Texas law allows certain criminal charges to be removed or eliminated from your criminal record. You must apply for this since the process is not automatic. Your attorney can help you with the process, but in Texas, most jurisdictions nor the State will not challenge a request for expungement. Depending on the crime, the State may challenge a request, but it’s always best to work with an experienced attorney when requesting criminal charges be removed from your criminal record.

Common Dispositions Of Criminal Cases

When a case is concluded, this is termed the disposition of the case. The disposition of an individual criminal case will depend on whether or not the charges can be expunged or removed from your criminal record. When you are arrested, there are several ways your case could end. The best disposition is the prosecutor drops the charges and decides not to pursue the case. When this happens, the charges will typically be dismissed. This often happens when the evidence is tainted or just isn’t strong enough to make the prosecution’s case. Evidence can be tainted because of an illegal search, a broken chain of custody or something else that can impact the veracity of the evidence.

There are times when a case is referred for deferred adjudication. Almost every state has some version of this process. For example, a DWI 1st offense may end in a plea bargain or deferred adjudication. The prosecution may offer to defer the charges if the accused will agree to meet a predetermined set of conditions within a certain period of time. Once these conditions are met, the prosecution agrees to dismiss all charges.

If you agree to this type of plea bargain, you will be given a plea agreement statement outlining the terms of the plea bargain. You must sign this and a judge must accept it for the plea bargain to become official. You may have to agree to plead guilty or no contest to the charges. If you meet all the conditions within the time period, the charges will be dismissed. If you fail to meet the conditions, you may be convicted of all charges.

In Texas, your case may also proceed to court where you will either be found guilty or non-guilty. If you are found guilty, the disposition will be entered on your criminal record and unless expunged, will remain there.

How Disposition Can Impact Your Permanent Record

Chapter 55 of the Texas State Code provides for expunging or removing certain criminal convictions from an individual’s permanent record. There are certain conditions which must be met in order for a criminal conviction to be removed from a criminal record. This is a very complex procedure, but it is best to work with an experienced attorney throughout the process. They will be able to analyze your case to see if you might be eligible for expungement.

Under Texas law, a person may file for expunction under the following conditions:

  • They were tried for a crime and convicted but were pardoned
  • They were found not guilty by either a jury or a judge
  • They were charged with a crime, but were later released and were never convicted of the crime.
  • Under the above, the person must also not have been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor associated with the same crime. This is regardless of the statute of limitations. Also, a certain amount of time must have expired since the crime or the charges.

There are certain waiting periods for each class of crime before a person can ask for expungement:

Felonies – Three years from the first arrest
Class C Misdemeanors – Three years from the first arrest
Class A and B Misdemeanors – One year from the first arrest

How To Expunge A DWI Conviction

Every crime that happens in Texas is assigned severity level. This is the same with DWIs. Driving while Intoxicated or a DWI is typically considered a Class B Misdemeanor. The usual penalty if convicted of this crime is 72 hours in jail. If the accused was found with an open bottle of alcohol in their vehicle when arrested for a DWI, they will get six days and it is considered a Class A Misdemeanor. This means your penalty for a DWI 1st offense will depend on the circumstances of the crime.

Drinking and Driving Responsibly This Fourth of July

Avoid DWI Charges On Independence Day

Celebrating Independence Day is a tradition for many people. They see it as the perfect occasion to spend time with friends and loved ones. Many people make the decision to consume a few drinks with their fireworks and grilled food. While there is nothing wrong with indulging for the holiday, driving while drunk and you don’t know how to fight a DWI could spell disaster.

The best tip anyone can offer would be to avoid drinking and driving at all costs. If any alcohol has been consumed, you should find another way to get home. With that said, even those who are usually careful make errors sometimes. Instead of risking everything, here are some ideas that can help you stay out of trouble.

Preplanning Your 4th of July

Choose A Designated Driver

Do you have any non-drinking friends that will be attending the festivities? If so, ask them to give you a ride at the end of the night.

Using Uber Or Lyft

Using these ride-sharing services is as simple as downloading an app and punching in your payment information. When it is time for you to head home, request a ride and they will pick you up at your exact location.

Stay At A Friend’s Home

If you are partying at the home of a friend, ask them if you can stay for the night and drive home the following day.

Book A Hotel Room

Reserve a room that is near the festivities so you can walk there once the night has come to a close.

What To Do If You Are Pulled Over While Drunk

Based on the laws in Texas, anyone who is drunk when pulled over has a high chance of ending up behind bars. Many officers can tell when someone has had too much to drink, and in this state, their opinion is enough to warrant a night in jail. With that said, those who are jailed for suspicion of DWI have ways to fight the charges. There are a few rules that can help drivers when they are stopped for DWI:

Do not admit to doing anything wrong.

Do not answer any questions.

Be polite when you are dealing with the police.

Have your insurance and driver’s license available.

Relax and Clear Your Mind

Even if someone has not been drinking, being stopped by police can cause a lot of anxiety. Relax and take a few deep breaths before you begin talking to the officer.

Promptly provide them with your license, insurance and registration documents. You should not attempt to engage the officer in small talk or ask any questions. The less you say, the better it will be in the long run.

On holidays, officers are on high alert when it comes to spotting people who may be drinking while driving. This can make it easier for someone to be stopped for something as simple as driving with a registration that is expired. This means that you should focus on keeping your registration up to date in addition to only driving while you are sober.

Avoid DWI Charges

The best way to avoid getting into any trouble would be to hire a qualified attorney who has experience with DWI cases. You should hire one as soon as possible so you will be ready when it is time for you to have your day in court. Waiting around and hoping for a miracle will not do you any good. Be proactive and seek legal help today! And of course, Butler Law Firm wishes you a Happy 4th of July and God Bless America!

Texas Ban On Texting and Driving Has Been Passed

Governor Abbott and Texas Lawmakers Finally Pass Texting-And-Driving Ban

According to Greek mythology, King Sisyphus angered the gods with his trickery and was condemned to push a large stone up a steep hill only to watch it roll back down again. His efforts will forever be fruitless and frustrating. King Sisyphus understands perfectly how Texas lawmakers felt until recently when their efforts to pass a reasonable ban on texting while driving finally passed both chambers.

They came close to passing a similar bill years ago, only to have the bill vetoed by Governor Rick Perry, who stated that he wouldn’t allow big government to micromanage the lives of Texans.

His actual goal is to clean things up by developing a uniform texting-while-driving law so there can be no confusion. This actually makes perfect sense. The governor recognizes that a patchwork of regulations dictating driving practices for Texans is not only inefficient, it’s ineffective too.

Commenting on the city’s ban on devices in automobiles in a statement released upon the passing of the local law, the Austin Police Department’s support was clear. They said they law forces Texans to focus on the task of driving, and that the initiative increases public safety by reducing distracted driving, which includes anything that diverts a driver’s attention from their primary task: to safely operate a motor vehicle.

The ordinance forbids the use of all electronic devices, including everything from hand-held games and cellular phones, and applies equally to bicycle riders.

Abbott’s statewide texting ban doesn’t come close to going as far. It only forbids motor vehicle drivers from “reading, writing, or sending” messages while their motor vehicle is in motion. This restriction doesn’t even apply if the vehicle stops for a light, for example.

Violators of the state law could face fines of up to $99 for their first offense.

The ban on electronic devices takes effect on September 1st, marking the end of a 10 year battle by Texas Senators, Judith Zaffirini, D- Laredo, and Tom Craddick, R-Midland.

Commending Governor Abbott for signing the bill, Craddick cited saving lives as the primary benefit of this law. He stated that Texas has needed the ban for far too long, a law that the ability to prevent crashes and the unnecessary loss of life.

We previously wrote about this topic, and shortly after it was published, someone driving a pickup truck crashed into a bus full of seniors, resulting in 13 deaths. He admitted to NTSB investigators that he was reading a text on his phone when the crash occurred.

One witness to the crash, Jody Kuchler, spoke to the driver of the pickup truck, Jack Dillon Young, who admitted to her while he remained pinned in his truck that he was texting. He told her repeatedly how sorry he was. He’ll have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

Butler Law Firm | Texting and Driving in HoustonInvestigators into the accident found several medications in his front seat, which may have also played a role in the accident. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety in a search warrant issued for Young’s vehicle, his erratic driving may indicate that he was intoxicated from a controlled substance, alcohol, or a combination of the two.

It is imaginable, someone in that condition attempting to operate a vehicle while texting too.

Ross Allen, whose father lost his life in the accident, has filed a lawsuit against Young. More importantly, his voice has become the alarm for a statewide ban on texting-while-driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015 alone 391,000 people were injured and another 3,477 lost their lives in accidents where distracted driving was a factor.

The ban cannot be expected to put a definitive end to the problem, no more than any other traffic law is able to prevent people from driving recklessly. Just as DWI laws will fail to end drunk driving, there will be motorists that will continue to use their electronic devices while driving.

But the message is clear for all drivers to see. The Lone Star State will no longer tolerate the risk to public safety posed by texting-while-driving.

Things To Look Into When You Cannot Afford A Lawyer

Where To Turn When You Need Legal Help But Can’t Afford A Lawyer

Do you need to defend yourself against a DWI or DUI? It is best to hire a DWI lawyer in Houston to help you with these types of legal matters. Trying to take care of these types of issues on your own is difficult. Rules vary by state or jurisdiction and if you make a mistake, it could cost you.

Lawyers are familiar with all the laws and rules governing legal matters. They will prepare the necessary paperwork and ensure it is filed with the proper authorities. It can be expensive to hire a lawyer, but even if you have a low income, there are several methods for finding an attorney who can help. It is possible to find good lawyers through a legal aid society. It is also possible to find attorneys willing to work pro bono or without charge or who may agree to a payment plan.

How To Find Free Legal Help

There are several programs that provide free legal help. Contact your local legal aid society or another government-funded legal aid program. These programs use federal or state funds to pay their attorneys and work with low-income individuals. Legal aid societies employ both paralegals and lawyers. Clients must meet certain eligibility requirements, but the legal help and advice are free.

Legal aid societies are a great resource for any type of legal problem. If you qualify, their professional legal staff can help with DWI, DUI and other types of legal problem. Your income must be below a set threshold to qualify for legal aid services. This threshold varies by state. In most states, your income must fall below the federal poverty line. It is best to talk directly with the legal aid society staff to see if you qualify.

Another possibility for finding a good attorney is a local pro bono program. This is a program typically run by the state or local bar association. Attorneys volunteer to provide free legal services. Clients must qualify to get help from this program. Pro bono legal services are also offered by many non-profit organizations and are available for individuals with a low income. To find programs in your area, check online, or with the local bar association.

If Your Income Is Too High For Free Legal Help

Even if you don’t qualify for free legal help, many pro bono programs offer a reduced fee structure for those who need legal help. These programs will typically offer a free consultation and may have a referral program to outside attorneys. There are many private law firms which have pro bono programs. These programs typically focus on helping people who have problems with law enforcement, suits against the government or with civil rights issues.

Another possible avenue to find free or reduced-cost legal help is to contact a self-help legal clinic. These are programs provided by the state or local jurisdiction. There are lawyers assigned to these programs who give free legal advice. These programs usually take both calls and walk-ins. Some programs will only accept legal questions submitted online. The process is usually confidential, but it is a good idea to check before asking your question or giving your personal information.

If you only have one or two questions, a self-help clinic is a good resource. They can answer questions about proper documentation or explain how a certain legal process works. These clinics are not a substitute for a lawyer. It is still recommended that you hire a lawyer before starting any legal process.

Butler Law Firm | DWI Lawyer in Houston TXYou can usually find local legal self-help programs by researching online or by calling the local courthouse. If you want to ask a question in person, be prepared to wait in order to meet with an attorney. Many local programs will focus on specific legal issues, so be sure the clinic will be able to help you with your legal problems. For example, some local clinics focus on helping victims of domestic abuse. If you need help with a child custody question, this clinic may not be able to help. They should be able to refer you to an attorney who does pro bono work or who is willing to work with you on a payment plan.

Your local district court may offer programs to help with estate planning, landlord-tenet disputes, personal injury cases, and debt collection. Programs held by civil courts will usually not deal with any type of criminal issue.

It is also possible to call a legal hotline to seek advice on certain legal issues. These hotlines generally focus on helping individuals with specific legal issues such as domestic abuse or landlord-tenant disputes. Some hotlines provide free advice and others charge a nominal fee. You can find legal hotlines by searching online in your state or local jurisdiction. It is usually best to call a hotline located in your state. Laws vary from state to state, so it is best to call a legal hotline where the staff is familiar with the laws in your state.

Another possibility for low cost or free legal advice is to contact a local law school. Law schools often run legal clinics which provide law students hands-on experience dealing with various legal issues. These programs may work with all types of legal issues or may focus on a specific area such as domestic violence. All law students participating in these programs are supervised by a licensed attorney, generally a law professor.

If you find yourself in court, you may be able to get a court-appointed lawyer. These are lawyers who either work for the court system or who are private attorneys who must do duty as a court-appointed attorney. Court-appointed attorneys generally work with clients accused of a crime. You will have to show proof of income before the court will appoint an attorney to help with your case.

Before deciding on a route to take when visiting the idea of legal help, please keep in mind that Butler Law Firm does offer a Free Case Evaluation and encourages you to contact us or call us at (713) 236-8744 ! All three options available 24/7!

Paying The Piper For A DWI In Texas

Don’t Drive While Drunk – It’s Not Worth The Cost

So you’re ready to leave the party, but you’ve been drinking. Even if you feel fine, it is never a good idea to drive after you’ve had a drink or two. Thousands of people just like you are arrested every year for driving while intoxicated. Drunk drivers also cause accidents, injuries and even fatalities. Even though there are numerous public campaigns warning about the hazards of driving while drunk, people are still getting arrested and faced with heavy penalties or fines.

Drunk Driving Accidents

There were 10,000 people killed by drunk drivers in 2016. These fatalities happened to people who were riding in the vehicle and to those who were in other vehicles or who were pedestrians. Death by drunk driving doesn’t discriminate.

The Average Age Of A Drunk Driver

A high number of drunk drivers are between 18 and 24 years old. This demographic makes up more than 25 percent of all DWI arrests. This population is also one of the largest repeat offenders. Many states are trying to strengthen their DWI laws. These states, such as Washington, are making it a felony if a person is arrested for a DWI more than two times. Some states have even harsher laws that make any DWI arrest a felony.

The Types Of Alcohol Involved In DWI Arrests

More than half of those who were arrested for DWI were drinking beer. Another 20 percent admitted to drinking more than one type of alcohol before they got into their car. Mixing alcohols can often result in intoxication more quickly.

Butler Law Firm | Paying For A DWI In Houston TXDWIs By State

California had the highest number of DWI arrests in 2015. There were 214,828 arrests in this state with the largest population in the United States. Delaware had the lowest DWI arrest rate. This makes sense when you consider that Delaware has one of the lowest populations in the country. Even so, Delaware’s arrest numbers were lower than states with similar populations. There is no clear reason for this discrepancy. States are focusing their anti-drunk driving advertisements to specific demographics in an attempt to reduce the number of DWIs.

DWI Convictions

If you have been arrested, you will be needing a good Houston attorney for DWI. A conviction can lead to heavy fines, penalties and possible jail time. The attorneys at Butler Law Firm are ready to help. We specialize in drunk driving arrests and can help both you get through this process. We are also experienced at helping victims of drunk driving get the justice they deserve.

It is important to hire an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. They understand the process and know how to get the best deal for the accused. They are skilled at determining when evidence may be tainted such as an improperly administered roadside breath test.

If you have been a victim of a drunk driving accident, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in these types of personal injury cases. There are many nuances involved in one of these cases and our attorneys are skilled at building the strongest case possible.

It is clearly a bad idea to drive while drunk. You can impact many lives with this poor decision, including your own.

 

What You Can Expect From Rejecting a DUI Breathalyzer Test

The Consequences of Refusing a DUI Breathalyzer Test

If you have only had a small amount of alcohol, or if you did not even drink and feel as if you are being treated unfairly by the officer, it may be tempting to refuse to submit to a DUI test. That being said, it is crucial that you understand the possible consequences, and advantages, of refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test. It is best to consult an experienced DUI attorney, to ask specific questions on the subject of the law in your state, and how the state treats a refusal to submit to a DUI test.

Implied Consent Laws and DUI

Generally speaking, everyone has the right to remain silent, and no one can actually be forced to give testimony against themselves. However, DUI law is a bit different due to implied consent laws. Implied consent laws are rules in certain states which require that you submit to certain sobriety or breath tests, or be subject to additional penalties. The theory is that as you make the choice to drive on a public roadway, you have already consented to the driving while intoxicated rules. Whether you are told by the officer or not, it is your right to refuse to submit to any kind of sobriety test, and this includes breathalyzers. Your refusal can, however, have various additional consequences. Depending on the DUI laws in your state, the extent of said consequences will vary, however, most will involve additional penalties.

Remaining Silent During a DUI Arrest

You should, under general constitutional theories have the right to remain silent, invoking this right should not be used against you. The exception to their constitutional theory is DUI law. Most states allow for prosecutors and juries to make inferences about the decision taken to refuse any sobriety tests. It is expressly provided by several state statutes that refusal to take a breath test can be used at trial against a defendant. It is actually one of the few times in which a prosecutor is allowed to comment on the right of the defendant to remain silent.

Choosing to Take a Sobriety Test or Breath Test

It is difficult to make the decision of taking a sobriety test or breath test. Most states do not allow for everything to be put on hold until you call and consult your attorney. Generally, when you inform an officer that until you have talked with your attorney, you will not take a sobriety test, this invocation of your right to counsel is considered a refusal of their breath or sobriety test. You are the one who has to make the decision of whether or not to submit to the breath test on your own. If you are stumbling because you are drunk, submitting to any kind of sobriety test will simply garner further evidence against you because you’re probably going to get arrested anyway. In this situation, unless you are required by law, you may want to refuse all breath or sobriety tests. On the other hand, if you do not think, or are certain that you are not intoxicated, you may want to consider submitting to the sobriety or breath test.

Taking Field Sobriety Tests

Most sobriety tests will be in the form of FSTs (field sobriety tests). FSTs require that you stand as well as walk in front of a camera. This is to demonstrate whether you are able to control your body. If you perform well during these terms they are evidenced that can be persuasive to a jury to prove you were not intoxicated, even if you have had some drinks. A performance on FSTs that is good, can result in a reduction of charges via a plea bargain, and can potentially get a not guilty verdict at trial, even if the result of the breath or blood test are against you.

If you make the decision to not take the sobriety test or breath test, bare in mind that many states have started adopting mandatory blood draws. What this means is that despite the fact that you did not consent to provide a blood sample for testing, an officer is able to transport you to a local hospital where they will draw a sample of blood. Usually, mandatory blood draws are for cases when there is an accident involving a repeat offender.

Getting Help

Field sobriety tests, sobriety tests, and breath tests go against most people’s major constitutional grain.   Unfortunately, just about every court has upheld these as being legal. The one chance you have at avoiding a sobriety is test is knowing when you can avoid them, or avoid any situation that will cause you to drink and drive to begin with. If you are curious as to what other penalties you might be facing when refusing a breathalyzer in Texas, calling our Houston drunk driving attorney at (713) 236-8744. Jim will help you to learn more about the specific DUI penalties in the state of Texas.

What To Expect For First or Multiple DWI’s

A Guide to Texas DWI Laws and Penalties

Everything is bigger in Texas and in some ways, that includes the DWI laws and penalties.

Navigating the DWI laws in the state of Texas can be difficult. The laws are complex, and there are multiple categories of DWI offenses and penalties that you need to be aware of in 2017. This overview will help you sort through the complexities of the law, and understand them better.

Texas interprets the term “intoxicated” as not being in full control of your mental and physical functions as a result of your consumption of alcohol or drugs, and/or having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher (for adults who are not commercial drivers).

When a police officer believes that a driver may be intoxicated, they need to establish probable cause, and must give evidence that the driver is actually intoxicated. Probable cause includes observing the driver’s behavior, speech, and appearance.

Butler Law Firm | Texas DWI LawThe police officer may use a field sobriety test, which can include blood and breath tests, which the driver does have the right to refuse. However, it’s important to note that there are “implied consent” laws in Texas, which means that when you drive on Texas roads, you are automatically consenting to sobriety tests. So while you can refuse the tests, your license will be suspended immediately if you do.

One fact that drivers are often unaware of is that a driver who is arrested for DWI will usually have two cases filed against them: a criminal case and a civil case. The criminal case is the most severe, with escalating levels of possible punishment, along with stiff fines and possible jail time. The civil case will be filed by the Department of Safety and usually results in suspension of the driver’s license.

3 DWI Offense Categories

DWI First Offense:

If you’ve never been convicted in a DWI case before, this is the typical charge you will face. First-time DWI offenses are considered a Class B misdemeanor, with a possible penalty of 3 to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. You’ll have your driver’s license suspended for a period of between 90 days to 1 year, depending on if you refused or failed the breath or blood test.

DWI Second Offense:

If this is your second DWI offense, your charge will automatically be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $4,000 plus a sentence of 30 days to 1 year of time in the county jail. License suspension will last from 180 days to 2 years. In some counties, a judge may require that your car be fitted with an ignition interlock device as a condition of your release pretrial or for probation. This device is like a breathalyzer attached to your car, which will prevent the car from being started until you breathe into the device and pass the test.

DWI Third Offense:

If you’re on your third DWI offense, the charge is instantly escalated to a third-degree felony, which carries a penalty of 2 to 10 years in the state prison, plus a $10,000 fine. Your license will be suspended for 180 days to 2 years. For all third or multiple DWI offenses the judge by law must require that your vehicle be fitted with an ignition interlock as a condition of a possible pretrial release or for probation.

Although these 3 main DWI offense categories appear fairly simple, other specific factors can greatly complicate the severity of the consequences. Such instances include: an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, a minor being present in the vehicle, an extremely high BAC, or excessive speeding at the time you were pulled over. These factors can raise the offense to an “aggravated DWI” offense, and the fines you’ll be subject to can be much higher. The charge could even be escalated to a Class A misdemeanor or a felony.

Aggravated DWI Offense Charges

DWI With An Open Container:

If it’s your first offense when you’re found with an open alcohol container in the vehicle, you’ll be subject to the usual first-offense fine of $2,000, but your charge will be raised to a Class B misdemeanor.

DWI With A BAC Of .15 And Above:

If your blood or breathalyzer test results are .15 or higher, you could receive an elevated charge of a Class A misdemeanor. The fine would be $4,000 and you could face up to a 1 year sentence in the county jail. A driver convicted of this type of aggravated DWI offense could, by law, be required to have an ignition interlock device fitted to his or her vehicle.

DWI With A Passenger Under Age 15:

If you are pulled over with a minor passenger in your car, even if the child is yours, and are found to be intoxicated, then the charge will immediately be escalated to a felony even if it is your first DWI charge. This aggravated DWI offense carries a heavy fine of $10,000 and up to 180 to 2 years in the state prison.

Intoxication Assault:

If you are responsible for causing severe injuries to another person while you are intoxicated, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalty could be anywhere from 2 to 10 years in the state prison, and you could be fined up to $10,000. Most judges in Texas will mandate that an ignition interlock device be installed on your car for this aggravated offense.

Intoxicated Manslaughter:

If you take someone’s life while driving intoxicated the charge will be a second-degree felony, and face a penalty of 2 to 20 years in the state prison and/or a $10,000 fine. In Texas, most judges will also require that your vehicle have an ignition interlock device placed in it for this aggravated offense.

Even though these charge escalations may also appear fairly easy to understand, there is just no way to be sure how the district attorney will apply them to your case. The best strategy in your defense will need to be developed based on the unique circumstances of your particular case. The complexity of your case could be more involved depending on several factors, including the conduct of the officer or officers who made the arrest.

It’s important that your case be handled by a Houston Texas DWI lawyer who understands these complexities and has the experience to create a detailed strategy that will take advantage of all the factors of your case, and aggressively advocate on your behalf in order to get you the best possible outcome.