Driving while intoxicated is one of the most serious criminal offense a person can commit when behind the wheel of an automobile. Drinking and Driving is the cause of over 50% of the driving related fatalities on Texas roads and highways. For more information to educate yourself of the dangers of drunk driving, review the featured video below.
While getting a DWI is something you’ll generally want to avoid at all costs, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are being charged with driving while intoxicated, an ALR hearing is a crucial step that may help you fight the charges if you were falsely accused, or if proper protocols during the investigation were not followed. ALR hearings, or Administrative License Revocation hearings, is a process that includes suspended license hearings in which the accused can contest the suspension of a drivers license due to a DWI charge or arrest. This process is separate from the criminal hearing and proceedings for the DWI charge. ALR hearings are for the most part exclusive to Texas.
Benefits of Requesting a Houston ALR Hearing
There are a few benefits of requesting an ALR hearing, though you must request one within 15 days after your arrest, or else your right to an ALR hearing will be waived and your license will be suspended for 40 days from the date of arrest. It is important to note that while you can try to file the request yourself, to ensure the request is submitted within those first 15 days it is highly recommended that you hire an aggressive DWI attorney for ALR hearings to handle the request for you.
The ALR hearing has two main benefits.
First, your license will not be suspended until the Administrative Law Judge hears your case. Once the ALJ makes a ruling on the ALR hearing, either they will determine the DWI was legitimate and proceedings will continue as normal, or due to improper procedure or other circumstances, the license will not be suspended.
The second benefit is that your attorney will be able to ask the involved officers about the arrest on the record, and due to the more informal nature of ALR hearings, the officers likely will offer more information than they would normally in the criminal trial. It is important to note what while some criminal cases for DWI have been dismissed on the basis of the result of the ALR hearings, these are two separate hearings and a favorable ALR hearing does not guarantee the criminal charges will also be dropped.
The DWI (Criminal Case) Can Be Affected
The questioning of the officer under oath at the hearing can provide very useful information for the upcoming criminal proceeding as well. First, the officer’s statement in the ALR hearing can be used in the criminal hearing. If the officer changes his story, or can not remember specific details of the arrest, his statement from the ALR hearing can be used in order to either discount his testimony or refresh his recollection. Second, the testimony allows some insight as to what evidence the prosecution might have against you in the criminal proceedings, and can help your attorney strategize for the criminal hearing. The state is required to provide the evidence they have against you that will benefit them in the criminal prosecution when in the ALR hearing. This also allows your attorney time to perform further investigation regarding the evidence.
State of Texas V. Montgomery
For example, in State v. Montgomery (1998), Montgomery was charged with a DWI after being stopped while exiting a nightclub. After further investigation of testimony during the ALR hearing, it was found that the stop was made without any probably cause or suspicion, and a motion was made to suppress all evidence and testimony gained as a result of the stop, as the evidence was gained due to an illegal stop, arrest and detention. The DPS attempted to continue suit for the criminal charges, but as the evidence proving as such was suppressed and no longer valid, the case was made that continued pursuit of the criminal charges in light of this would be denial of due process and subject to double jeopardy, or being brought to trial for a crime in which one was already proven innocent of. The judge agreed with this motion and dismissed the case.
In order for your license to be suspended in an ALR hearing, it must be proven that the DWI stop and arrest was valid according to the preponderance of evidence. The standards for this are generally much lower than for the criminal portion of the DWI proceedings as well. If DPS, the prosecuting agent in ALR hearings, is unable to validate that the DWI stop was done with just cause, or was performed properly, it is possible for your license to not be suspended. If the facts show that the stop was in fact valid, your license can be suspended anywhere between 90 days and 2 years.
While the case of State v. Montgomery ended up dismissing both the DWI suspension as well as the criminal charges, the results of these hearings are separate, and very heavily depend on the facts of the case. You should never assume the ALR case dismissal will result in the dismissal of the criminal proceedings, and always hire a DWI attorney.
Just like when a person operates a vehicle intoxicated by alcohol, driving a car while under the influence of drugs is illegal in all states in the U.S. You can get arrested for a DUI for driving on any drug including marijuana and legal prescription drugs. “According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016 11.8 million people drove under the influence of illicit drugs.”
A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that “more than 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009.” Driving while under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as driving drunk and is taken just as seriously by the law.
For this reason, law enforcement has ramped up DUI enforcement efforts in Texas, leading to many wrongful arrests.
Driving Under The Influence of Drugs In Texas
In the state of Texas driving under the influence of drugs is treated similarly to charges faced when arrested for driving a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol. The Texas Penal Code defines intoxicated as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”
In the state of Texas, there is an implied consent for drug and alcohol tests if a police officer suspects you are driving while intoxicated. If you refuse to take a test, your refusal can be used against you and you can still face criminal charges. If an officer believes you are driving while under the influence and the blood or urine test comes up positive, then you will face Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges.
According to Texas DPS, the white male population is the demographic that is arrested the most for DUI. Of the nearly 90,000 DUI arrests a year that take place in Texas, most of them are alcohol-related. Even with a decreasing drug abuse arrest rate, there are still thousands of people a year charged with driving under the influence of drugs in the state of Texas.
Criminal Penalties For DUI In Texas
The penalties you can face if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs are the exact same as DWI for alcohol charges in the state of Texas. Since there are no intoxication levels with drugs any proof of influence will get you the same penalties as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher will. In Texas, the penalties get worse if you get charged with more than one DUI offense.
For a first DUI offense, you can face 3 to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine and get your driver’s license suspended for 90 to 365 days. For a second DUI offense, a person can face 30 days to 1 year in jail, up to a $4,000 fine and get their license taken away for 180 days to 2 years. If someone is charged with a third DUI offense they can face a minimum of two years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine and 180 days to 2 years of their driver’s license being suspended.
In addition to fines and jail time, a person convicted of driving under the influence of drugs can be ordered drug/alcohol treatment and/or probation. During probation, the defendant will have to regularly report to a probation officer who will make sure they are completing everything they need to do as ordered by law. In DUI cases, people convicted are often ordered drug tests, treatment and community service.
Potential DUI Defenses And Your Rights
DUI for drugs cases can be hard to win because according to the law if drugs are found in your system while driving you can be considered intoxicated. However, some drugs such as marijuana stay in your system longer than they can intoxicate someone. In some cases, a person will be found not to be intoxicated while driving even though a drug test showed narcotics in their system. In other cases, the drug test may have shown a false positive, meaning that the test said there were drugs in your system when there wasn’t. If you hire a lawyer to represent you, then they will be able to tell you what your best defense can be.
Need A Lawyer In Texas?
Getting a DUI charge can be a difficult and life-changing process. Having a lawyer to represent you can save you time, money and lots of headaches. During the DUI conviction process there are many hoops to jump through with the court system and the department of motor vehicles. A lawyer will stand by your side and help you through all of the legal hurdles your DUI charge will throw at you.
No one heads out on the road expecting to get into a car wreck with a drunk driver. Even minor Houston fender benders can create problems in our lives. It is this same surprising nature that makes it virtually impossible to be fully prepared for a DWI car accident. If one should happen, having some foreknowledge can be helpful.
For instance, there are tons of mistakes that we unknowingly make in the aftermath of a car accident. We’ve listed some of the more common ones below.
Failure to file a police report
Typically seen in drunk driving related fender benders, the failure to file a police report can hurt us physically and financially – especially since many issues (medical and vehicular) don’t always show up immediately after a car accident. Once the Houston Police Department has arrived on the scene, make sure they get the names and address of any witnesses.
If the officer determines that the other party is at fault, this (along with the names of the valuable witnesses) will be in the report as well and can be of great assistance to you when filing an insurance claim.
Failure to Seek Medical Care
Just because you feel fine after a DWI car wreck doesn’t mean that you should forego emergency care. In fact, you should get a complete medical exam immediately (or as soon as possible) after the accident. Sometimes, injuries (like whiplash) don’t show up until a few days after the accident, getting documentation ensures that undiagnosed medical injuries don’t negatively influence your car accident settlement case.
Failure of Tact
Another common mistake people make after a car accident is talking to the other party’s insurance company. This is a trap, not a requirement – as many have come to believe. You have to remember that the other driver’s insurance company does not want to give you any money, even if you are innocent. It is their goal to find small cracks in what you say and assign blame to you so they can avoid their responsibility.
According to the CDC, someone is killed as a result of alcohol-impaired driving every 50 minutes or so. These statistics perfectly illustrate the numbers of drunk drivers on the roads today. While drunk drivers are a danger to themselves, you are also at risk when using the same road as a person who driving driving or DWI. Below are tips on how to avoid drunk drivers while limited your exposure to the risk they pose.
Buckle Your Seatbelt
The first defense against drunk drivers is using your seatbelt. If you happen to see an impaired driver ahead of you, make sure that everyone in your car is buckled up in case there is a crash. Furthermore, having your seatbelt on can reduce injuries in the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is in a vehicle that’s involved in a wreck.
Keep a Generous Following Distance
Staying a safe distance away from drivers you suspect are drunk is a good strategy to avoid intoxicated drivers on the road in Houston. Never try to overtake the motorist who is driving while intoxicated. Instead, keep a generous following distance between you and the driver so that you have an eye on his or her erratic behavior. Apart from just keeping your distance, be your brother’s keeper and call local law enforcement to come in and pull the driver off the road. After all, an arrested for drunk driving is one thing, but criminal charges related to intoxication manslaughter is a different matter altogether.
Avoid Late Driving
During the holiday season, celebrations usually involve people becoming intoxicated before driving home late at night. Therefore, your best remedy is staying at home in the evenings to avoid running into such individuals on the road. If possible, stay off the roads on drinking holidays and you will have the best chance of avoiding an encounter with a drunk driving. Most Texas DWI litigation trial lawyers in Houston will agree with this.
A drunk driver can ruin your day and even cause you to be hospitalized for a long time. They can even kill you. Therefore, you need to stay safe by watching out for such drivers and doing everything possible to avoid them. Even if you’re successful at avoiding a collision with an impaired motorist, do the public a favor and alert local law enforcement of their presence. Due to the nature and dangers posed by drunk drivers in Houston, we all have a responsibility to do our part to keep our roads safe.