Archive for July, 2015

Texas DUI Defense Attorney Tells You What You Need to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Did you know that you have a choice about whether you participate in field sobriety tests? Law enforcement officers won’t come right out and tell you that you have a choice, because they want you to get out of your car and do the tests. It is essential that drivers do remember that they have a choice of whether or not to participate in field sobriety tests, because there are risks associated with doing so.

Any time you drive, whether you drink or not, you are at risk for being stopped and asked to perform field sobriety tests. In fact, some sober drivers are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol after failing one or more field sobriety tests. This, in and of itself, is quite troubling. Drivers who are completely sober can fail field sobriety tests and be accused of DUI because the tests are set up so that many people will fail them, and because they are a subjective measure of behavior. If you are not familiar with what “subjective” means, it means that the officer who observes you will form an opinion of whether or not you are sober, and that opinion is the result of the test.

Drivers should be aware that there is a growing public awareness that field sobriety tests are not accurate ways to assess intoxication. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration does not issue any standards for administering or scoring field sobriety tests. As mentioned before, the tests are completely subjective in nature. Research has shown that police officers assess the driver’s level of intoxication incorrectly during one third of all of the field sobriety tests that they administer. That is an unacceptable margin of error for a test that can result in a person being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and having to go through all of the hardships that go along with that.

Some drivers choose to engage in field sobriety tests because they feel that it will prove that they are sober. Unfortunately, these drivers are all too often disappointed when they fail the tests. One reason that field sobriety tests don’t help drivers prove that they are sober is that the officer who is asking the driver to do the test has already made up their mind that they believe the driver to be intoxicated. If you choose to exit your vehicle under those circumstances, your every move, whether intentional or not, could be used as evidence to reinforce the officer’s pre-determined conclusion that you were intoxicated when your vehicle was stopped.

Choosing not to participate in field sobriety tests is a good way for drivers to avoid being falsely accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. If, despite your best efforts, you are accused of DUI, a Texas DUI Defense Attorney can help you build a strong defense against it. If you have questions about DUI, call Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.

Texas DUI Defense Attorney Discusses the Basics of SR-22 Insurance

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

If your driver’s license has been suspended because of a DUI conviction, you may be in a tough situation. Perhaps you need to be able to drive to work because you do not have access to public transportation and you do not have access to reliable transportation to and from work with family, friends, or co-workers. You may be a parent who needs to be able to drive their children to and from school or other activities, or someone who helps an elderly relative with getting to and from appointments. Fortunately, Texas issues special driver’s licenses called occupational or essential need licenses.

Occupational or essential need licenses enable drivers whose licenses are suspended to operate non-commercial motor vehicles for work, school, and performing essential household duties. There are some requirements that a driver must meet before the Department of Public Safety will issue an occupational driver’s license to them. Many of these requirements are straightforward, but there is one that often causes a great deal of concern and confusion – the SR-22.

An SR-22 is an endorsement that can be attached to an automobile insurance policy. The endorsement creates an obligation for the insurer to continually monitor the status of that insurance policy, and to notify the Department of Public Safety immediately if the policy’s status changes. If you need to obtain an SR-22, it is important to know that not every insurer is willing to issue them.

Before you contact your insurer to ask whether they will issue one for you, it is important that you understand the possible implications of doing so. If you ask your insurer to issue you an SR-22, they may initially refuse to do so. That may not seem like a big deal, but they may even refuse to do so repeatedly if you ask them more than once. Or, they might say that they will issue one for you and then deliberately take a very long time to issue it. Sometimes, the insurer takes such a long time to issue an SR-22 that the driver’s automobile insurance policy gets cancelled because of their license suspension before the SR-22 form is even issued. You might also be denied the ability to renew your policy when it expires.

Since it is not always possible to get an SR-22 through your insurer, you may want to obtain an SR-22 from some other source. It can be done, but there is a risk that you could experience unwanted consequences if you do not go about trying to obtain it in the proper manner. The best thing to do is to get an SR-22 on a non-owner’s or operator’s policy and not on the owner’s policy for the vehicle that you drive. If you obtain an SR-22 on an owner’s policy from a secondary source, that new owner’s policy would cancel your regular policy because duplicate coverage is not permitted under Texas law.

An occupational or essential need driver’s license can help you to keep your job, take care of your home and family, or get to school. A Texas DUI Defense Attorney can help you pursue these licenses and build an aggressive DUI defense that is designed to obtain the best possible result under the circumstances. Call Attorney Jack Pettit today at 214-521-4567, to learn more.

Texas DUI Defense Attorney Talks about How a DUI Conviction Could Affect Your Life

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, there is a lot at stake. A Texas DUI conviction has the potential to have an impact on many, many different aspects of your life. From your career to your relationships with your family and friends, many things may be affected in ways that you might not be aware of.

One way in which a DUI conviction could have a large and immediate impact on your life is that it can affect your career. Of course, the exact effect that being convicted of DUI is likely to have depends upon what career path you are following. For many people, a common effect of a DUI conviction is that they have to rethink how they get to and from work every day because their driver’s license has been suspended. Some of people are able to locate affordable and convenient public transportation that enables them to get to and from work until they are able to drive again. Unfortunately, reliable and affordable public transportation is not available everywhere in Texas. In some places, unless you are able to get a ride to and from work every day from co-workers, family members, or friends, you may have a hard time keeping your job. There are also jobs, such as professional truck driving positions, where having a good driving record is a prerequisite for employment, and drivers can be fired after being convicted of DUI. Unfortunately, being fired from your current position for a DUI is just the tip of the iceberg if you are a professional driver. Drivers who are convicted of DUI often have a very difficult time finding work in their field once their license is reinstated, because many companies do not like to hire drivers who have DUIs on their driving records.

Some people who are convicted of DUI may lose their jobs even if they are able to secure alternate transportation, because certain employers and professions have policies regarding DUI convictions and job qualifications. Some of these careers include government work and working with children or the elderly.

In addition to affecting your ability to drive and potentially affecting your career, your DUI is likely to cost you quite a bit of money. From retaining an attorney to defend you against the charges, to paying fines and fees both now and in the future, to reinstating your license and getting car insurance when you can drive again, it can really add up. Relationships can become strained, especially if people are inclined to take a judgmental view of what has happened instead of offering support and encouragement as you move through this difficult chapter in your life. You may even have a hard time taking care of day to day needs like housing, if you currently receive public assistance, because eligibility for some programs and services may be affected by a DUI conviction.

A DUI conviction can have far-reaching effects on your life. A Texas DUI Defense Attorney is your best defense against the negative effects of a DUI conviction. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has been serving DUI defense clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years. Call Attorney Pettit today at 214-521-4567, to learn more about how he may be able to help you.

Texas DUI Defense Attorney Discusses the Role of Science in DUI Cases

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

One of the most important elements of a strong DUI defense case is science. While some of the evidence that is involved in DUI cases is circumstantial, such as things that police officers claim that the driver said or did, other important pieces of evidence are scientific. Texas DUI defense attorneys know that understanding the scientific principles that relate to things like blood and breath tests can make or break a DUI defense case, as can knowing how to bring challenges against scientific evidence in court.

Evidentiary challenges have helped many DUI defendants avoid convictions, and they may play a role in your DUI case. There are many ways to challenge blood and breath test evidence. From the manner in which the samples are collected to the equipment that is used and what happens to the sample after it is collected, there are multiple points in time at which things happen that can form the basis for an evidentiary challenge. For example, law enforcement officers may not use the testing equipment properly, due to insufficient training, lack of experience, or mistakes. Equipment that is used may be outdated. Samples can become contaminated or be mishandled. In short, there is a lot of room for error, and DUI defense attorneys are experienced at examining the course of events that occurred during and after a DUI traffic stop in a way that often enables them to find one or more bases for challenging the blood or breath testing evidence.

If a driver who has been charged with DUI chose to participate in field sobriety testing, there are often ways to challenge evidence that is related to those tests. There is a growing body of evidence that supports a conclusion that field sobriety tests do not provide accurate information, so it is a good idea to challenge them on that basis.

There are also other ways in which science is relevant to DUI defense. Medications, metabolism, food and drinks can all interfere with the accuracy of blood and breath test results. The natural differences between all of our bodies can also affect test results because weight, gender, and body structure all influence how alcohol affects us.  A knowledge of the science that is involved in how alcohol works in our bodies can help DUI defense attorneys formulate other challenges to DUI charges if they are applicable to an individual’s situation.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, you need a strong ally who can help you defend yourself against DUI charges. A skilled Texas DUI Defense Attorney can combine their knowledge of the law with their knowledge of science to develop a defense strategy that is likely to being about the best possible outcome in your case. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has been providing high quality DUI defense representation to clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years. Call Attorney Jack Pettit today at 214-521-4567, to learn more about how he may be able to help you.