Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks About Competence

November 1st, 2016

One issue that can come up in any criminal case, including a DWI case, is the question of whether or not the defendant is competent to stand trial. For court proceedings to be fair, a defendant must be both capable of understanding the proceedings that are being brought against them and capable of assisting their defense counsel in defending them in those proceedings. Capability does not necessarily mean having a high level of understanding or skill in helping in their defense, it is a very basic understanding and ability that most people have most of the time.

It is imperative that DWI defendants understand that raising the issue of competence is not a defense to the crime of DWI. It is a tool that enables defendants to receive a fair trial because it allows court proceedings to be placed on hold until the defendant can become competent to stand trial. For example, if a defendant is found to have a mental impairment that could respond well to therapy or medication or a combination of both, the defendant will be ordered to receive those treatments and can then proceed to trial once the treatments take effect and they can understand and assist as described above.

The defense counsel in a recent Texas DWI case involving competence has asked for additional time to assess whether their client is competent to stand trial. This particular defendant has been examined by multiple professionals, and those professionals appear to have different opinions regarding whether the defendant is competent to stand trial. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter after a November 2013 wrong-way crash that killed one person.

In addition to the issue of differing opinions among professionals, there is the issue of whether those professionals have followed the proper procedures in examining the defendant and reporting their findings. For example, one doctor plans to testify that the defendant is competent, but the defense counsel says that they had not received any report that would have notified them of her findings. Written reports are supposed to be provided to counsel thirty days before the pretrial hearing so that they can have time to read them and prepare their responses to them. A different doctor is of the opinion that the defendant is not competent to stand trial and that the defendant should undergo an extended period of observation and examination.

Competence is just one of many issues that can arise during a DWI case. DWI defendants have a lot at stake, and a Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help those who are charged with DWI protect their rights. If you’re currently facing DWI charges in Texas, you do not have to figure out a DWI defense strategy on your own – in fact doing so could be costly in more ways than one. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has assisted a number of Texas DWI clients with their cases, and he would like to help you. To learn more, please call 214-521-4567 today.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Warns Drivers of the Harsh Consequences for Multiple DWI Offenses

October 31st, 2016

A Texas man who was recently convicted of his eighth DWI has been sentenced to ninety-nine years in jail. His case is one of a few recent multiple-offense cases that have been getting a lot of press lately. The stories of defendants who have continued to drive under the influence of alcohol have been getting a lot of attention because of just how many offenses they have been able to accumulate. It’s natural for people to wonder how a person can get a third or fourth offense DWI, let alone a sixth, a ninth, or even a tenth one.

The Assistant District Attorney who requested the ninety-nine-year sentence explained to the jury that a sentence that severe seemed to be the only way that he could ensure that the defendant would never have the opportunity to drive under the influence of alcohol again. Incarceration is one way to make sure that a person cannot drive while under the influence of alcohol, but there are other tools available like license suspension, ignition interlock devices, and treatment for alcohol addiction.

The multiple offense DWI cases that have been making the news lately are shocking, but they also serve another purpose – they provide information about what works to keep drivers off of the road and what doesn’t. For example, license suspension does not seem to be very effective at preventing people from driving while they are intoxicated. Many of the defendants who have accumulated multiple DWIs actually have valid drivers’ licenses when they get arrested for their most recent DWI. The reason that those drivers may have had valid drivers’ licenses is that Texas law does not permit permanent revocation of a driver’s license. When a driver gets convicted of a DWI, their license may get suspended for up to two years. In addition to the fact that drivers get their driving privileges reinstated fairly quickly after a DWI, there is the fact that license suspension is often not enough to deter drivers from operating their vehicles while they are under the influence of alcohol. Statistics have revealed that somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of people who are convicted of DWI choose to drive even while their drivers’ licenses are suspended.

Whether you are facing your first DWI or you have one or more other DWIs or criminal convictions on your record, it is essential that you face the charges with someone by your side who understands DWI law and how it works. It is also important that you align yourself with someone who can help you understand the short term and long term effects that the charges could have on your life. A Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help you understand the charges, and they can help you minimize the negative consequences of your DWI on your life. To learn more about how Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, can help you, call us today at 214-521-4567.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Discusses Consequences for DWI Offenders with Professional Licenses

October 21st, 2016

Recently, an EMS medic received a thirty-day suspension from work following an arrest for driving while intoxicated while he was not on duty. In addition to the suspension, the medic will be on probation for a year and subject to random drug and alcohol testing. He must also complete a rehabilitation program that includes counseling for alcohol abuse.

Medics are not the only people who may face job-related consequences if they are convicted of DWI. Fortunately, professionals who hold licenses that could be affected by a DWI do not have to navigate the DWI process alone. Since there’s so much at stake, it is important that licensed professionals seek legal assistance as soon as possible after a DWI arrest. An attorney could help you to reduce or avoid any alleged consequences of your DWI, thereby protecting your current and future employment.

In Texas, professions that require licenses are governed by the Texas Occupations Code § 53.021. This statute gives licensing authorities for individual professions the power to suspend or revoke licenses, disqualify individuals from receiving licenses or deny individuals the opportunity to take licensing examinations if the person was convicted of one or more specific types of offenses.

There are four classes of offenses that trigger the provisions of Texas Occupations Code § 53.021. The first group of offenses is broadly constructed to include any offense that directly relates to the duties of the licensed occupation. For example, a medic drives an ambulance and DWI relates to driving, so the licensing authority could, by statute, suspend or revoke a medic’s license if they got convicted of DWI. Another group of offenses that could bring about negative consequences for a licensed professional includes offenses that do not directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation and that were committed fewer than five years before the date that the person applied for their professional license. The third group of offenses lists specific crimes that can have negative consequences for licensed professionals who are convicted. This group includes aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, capital murder, burglary, compelling prostitution, indecency with a child, injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, sexual assault, murder, trafficking of a person, and sexual performance by a child. The fourth group of offenses is more general, including any sexually violent offense, but it also specifies that the provision does not apply in certain circumstances.

As you can see, the list of offenses that could bring about negative consequences for your professional license is fairly inclusive. An attorney can help you understand whether the offense that you have been accused of could result in consequences related to your professional license, as well as whether any exception to the rules applies, such as the provision that under certain circumstances, a defendant may not be considered to have been convicted of an offense. The rules can get tricky, and their application is highly fact specific. An attorney can assess the situation using their specialized knowledge and get to the heart of the matter, which is your professional license and the other things in your life that are important to you. Texas DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has helped numerous Texas DWI clients and he would like to help you. To learn more, please call 214-521-4567 today.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Shares Two Essential Tips for Navigating a DWI Traffic Stop

October 11th, 2016

Whether you have ever experienced a DWI traffic stop or not, you may not realize one very important thing about DWI traffic stops. That one thing is that your choices and your behavior during that encounter with law enforcement will have an impact on what happens during the traffic stop. A DWI traffic stop is not a moment to feel as though everything that is happening is completely outside of your control. It is a time to remain calm and concentrate on making choices, such as implementing the two tips that are discussed below, that will result in the best possible outcome for your traffic stop.

The first thing that you can do is to remember who you are dealing with during the traffic stop. You are dealing with a law enforcement officer, and that law enforcement officer is not your friend. Not only are they not your friend, but they are also someone who can and in most cases will serve as a key witness in the case against you. If you view your entire interaction with the law enforcement officer through this lens, you can make choices that can, at the very least, minimize the amount of damaging information that the officer can obtain during the traffic stop. That is the job of the law enforcement officer – to collect every possible bit of evidence during a traffic stop that they possibly can, from the moment that the blue lights come on to the time that you are released from their presence.

Because the law enforcement officer is doing a job during the traffic stop, collecting information to be used against you at a trial, there is a job that you can do, too. Your job is to protect your interest by providing as little evidence as you possibly can, and this begins with assuming that everything that you say and do is being recorded and will be used against you at trial. In fact, the recording of your words and actions will be viewed by the prosecution multiple times before your trial, when they are deciding what kinds of charges to bring against you and how aggressively they are willing to push for a conviction. You can protect your interests by maintaining a calm and polite demeanor, speaking only when necessary, requesting an attorney multiple times during the traffic stop, limiting what you say to the bare minimum that you are required to disclose by law, and remaining in your seat as much as you can.

If the result of your traffic stop is that you were arrested and charged with DWI, you are likely to have some questions and concerns. There is a lot at stake, including your driving privileges and your freedom. Fortunately, you do not have to go through this experience alone. Texas DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has helped many clients with their DWI cases, and he could help you, too. To learn more about Texas DWI cases, please call 214-521-4567 today.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks About Evidentiary Challenges to DWI Charges

October 1st, 2016

When a driver is charged with DWI, the state has the responsibility of proving that the driver did what the State says that they did – that they were operating a motor vehicle while their blood alcohol level was more than the legal limit. To prove this, the State must present evidence in support of its case. Presenting evidence is not always a simple matter, which can be a good thing for DWI defendants. There are things that can be wrong with the State’s case, from not having enough evidence, to evidence that was not handled or stored properly, to witnesses whose credibility cannot be established and more. These problems with evidence can provide defense attorneys with opportunities to get the charges against their clients reduced or even dismissed in some cases.

A case in New Jersey illustrates how problems with evidence can result in the dismissal of a DWI (DUI in some states) case. In 2011, a New Jersey police officer was charged with DUI after he crashed into the wall of a supermarket. The officer’s attorney requested that the state provide specific pieces of evidence through the discovery process. The State did not provide the attorney with all of the evidence that was requested. The attorney requested a hearing and the charges against the officer were dismissed after the judge found that the prosecution failed to provide some of the requested evidence to the defense attorney. Failure to provide evidence during discovery is just one of the ways that a problem with evidence can lead to the dismissal of charges.

There are other types of technical issues that can provide defense attorneys with opportunities to request dismissal of DWI charges. Experienced defense attorneys know how to go through the State’s case and scrutinize it, looking for every way that they can defend their client. Blood alcohol test results are an area where things could go wrong for the prosecution and work in favor of the defendant. For example, if the test was not performed correctly or by a person who is authorized to perform the test, the validity of the results can be questioned. Likewise, if the sample was not handled properly, the results of the test might not be allowed to be presented as evidence. When there are questions about blood tests, witnesses may have to be called by the State to try to support the validity of the test results. If those witnesses do not appear, the test result evidence could get suppressed, and the defense attorney could get the case dismissed. Breath test results can be challenged in the same manner, and those tests may provide even more opportunities for fault-finding than blood tests because the machines and testing procedures must be followed correctly by the officer who is administering the test to produce a valid result.

Warrants are another area of evidence where defense attorneys can find fault. If a defendant is not properly warned, as in properly read their Miranda rights and they say or do things that the State later tries to use against them as evidence, the admissibility of that evidence can be challenged as having been obtained in violation of the defendant’s rights.

If you are facing DWI charges, protect your rights by speaking with a Texas DWI Defense Attorney immediately. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has served DWI clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years. Call him today, at 214-521-4567.

 

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks about Subsequent DWIs

September 24th, 2016

Sometimes, a single DWI traffic stop is enough to cause a person to give up drinking and driving for good, even if they are never charged or convicted. Other drivers need a little more convincing and wait until after their second offense to stop drinking and driving. There are also some drivers who continue to drive under the influence of alcohol after multiple DWI convictions, encountering increasingly severe penalties with each additional offense.

Recently, a woman from Houston was sentenced to four years in prison after she pleaded guilty to her sixth felony DWI charge. The woman was stopped by law enforcement after her daughter, who was driving in a vehicle behind her, called the police to ask them to stop her mother because she was driving while intoxicated. When law enforcement officers stopped the woman’s car, they did find that she was intoxicated and they arrested her. When she was arrested, the woman was out on bond for two felony DWI charges.

The potential consequences of being convicted of DWI in Texas become more severe with each subsequent offense, as you can see from the four-year prison sentence that the woman mentioned above received for her sixth DWI. Most drivers will not ever be charged with their sixth DWI, but all drivers should understand what penalties they might be given if they are convicted of a first-time DWI or any type of subsequent offense.

Drivers who are convicted of a first offense DWI in Texas may be fined up to two thousand dollars. They could also have to spend between three days and one hundred and eighty days in jail. A first offense DWI can mean that your license gets suspended. Also, the Texas DWI laws recently changed, and first time DWI defendants could even be required to put ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Second offense DWI convictions in Texas can result in fines of up to four thousand dollars, and jail time of one month to one year. Second-time DWI offenders also face license suspension, a surcharge to reinstate their license after suspension, and the possibility of an ignition interlock requirement just like first-time offenders.

Third-time DWI offenders could be fined up to ten thousand dollars. They can also expect to spend between two and ten years in state prison, in addition to other penalties. The penalties that were described above refer solely to DWI charges. If certain other factors, such as child passengers or a car accident were present during an arrest, the driver may face additional penalties.

If you face any type of DWI charges in Texas, it is important that you understand the short term and long term effects that the charges could have on your life. A Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help you understand the charges, and they can help you put up your best defense against them. To learn more about how  Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, can help you, call us today at 214-521-4567.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Discusses the Role of Toxicologists in DWI Cases

September 6th, 2016

In Harris County, ten years’ worth of DWI cases are being reviewed by District Attorneys in light of questions regarding the qualifications of a lab tech within the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. The woman whose qualifications are under scrutiny has resigned her position, but that does not fix the fact that she may have testified in some DWI cases without having the proper credentials to do so.

The problem with the woman’s credentials is that she has testified in at least some cases that she had obtained a different type of master’s degree than the degree that she actually earned. It is unknown how many cases, if any, were affected by the false testimony but that is the reason that so many cases are being reviewed. The review process will help attorneys who represented clients involved in those ten years’ worth of cases to determine whether any of the cases can be challenged.

If you are a DWI defendant, you may wonder why the truth of a toxicologist’s testimony about their degree makes a difference in a DWI case. It matters because telling the truth matters and, perhaps even more importantly because scientific evidence plays a significant role in DWI cases. Because scientific evidence plays a prominent role in DWI cases, it is essential that any expert witness who testifies regarding toxicology reports or any other scientific subject matter know what they are talking about.

In DWI cases, toxicologists present information regarding the results of blood and breath tests. The tests must be performed according to specific methods, which the person who is testifying must understand and be able to explain clearly to the finder of fact. The test results are to be interpreted according to certain guidelines, which are another thing that the expert witness must be aware of and able to describe. Forensic toxicologists are also used in DWI cases to explain the manner in which alcohol behaves in the body. Toxicologists might testify about how a person is likely to act at a particular time after consuming a certain amount of drinks based on their calculations involving the metabolism of alcohol in the body. A toxicology expert might also testify about procedures for administering blood and breath tests in the field, procedures for calibrating breathalyzer machines and other equipment, and other similar issues. Because of the broad spectrum of topics that toxicology expert witnesses testify on, it is easy to see how a misstatement regarding the credentials of any such expert could prove damaging if the “expert” gives the finder of fact incorrect information.

If you have questions about Texas DWI defense law, Texas DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, may be able to help you. Whether you are being charged with your first offense or a subsequent offense, we are here to guide you through each step of the DWI case process towards resolution of your matter. Call our office at 214-521-4567 today to find out more.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Discusses Treatment for DWI Offenders

September 5th, 2016

Sometimes, a DWI arrest is just the wake-up call that a person needs to realize that they might need to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol. Fortunately, courts respond well to defendants who see the error of their ways and who choose to pursue treatment as part of resolving their DWI cases. One example of a high-profile DWI defendant who has chosen the treatment path is Texas Rangers player Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress was recently arrested for DWI, and not only has he apologized for his poor decision, but he has also entered a treatment program, a commitment that indicates that he is serious about taking action that could help him make better choices in the future.

If you are charged with DWI, and you think that you may want to pursue treatment for alcohol-related issues, know that there are many different options for drug and alcohol treatment throughout the state of Texas. It is possible for DWI defendants to choose to enter treatment voluntarily, so if you feel as though you may benefit from it, be sure to seek it out on your own instead of waiting to see whether the court orders you to attend. Voluntary attendance at a treatment program speaks well of a defendant’s remorse as well as of their desire to refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol in the future.

Some DWI offenders need treatment for drug addiction as well as alcohol dependence. There are treatment centers that offer complete solutions for whatever it is that you need. With more than thirty programs available throughout the state, there is sure to be a program that is a good fit for you. Seeking treatment could help you to refrain from drinking and driving in the future, which would, in turn, help you avoid dealing with additional DWI charges, getting injured in an accident, or hurting others by injuring them in an accident.

It is important that DWI defendants be honest with themselves and with their attorneys about the role that alcohol plays in their lives, so the desirability of treatment can be accurately assessed. While all DWIs result from poor decisions, only some of those decisions are made by people who have an addiction to alcohol. Other DWI defendants are occasional drinkers who do not have a problem with alcohol abuse. Talking with your attorney about the role of alcohol in your life can help them understand whether pursuing treatment would benefit you or whether you truly do not need it. If your attorney has a clear idea of whether treatment is necessary for you, they can either work it into the resolution of your case, or they can push back against the prosecution if they are trying to impose court ordered treatment.

If you were arrested for DWI, you are probably well aware that your driving privileges, your freedom, and other things in your life are at stake. You probably want to do everything in your power to preserve the most important things in your life, and pursuing treatment for alcohol abuse may be a valuable tool that can help you do that. Texas DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit can help you understand the treatment options that are available and can work treatment into his plan for resolving your case. Attorney Pettit has helped numerous Texas DWI clients with their DWI cases, and he would like to help you, too. To learn more, please call 214-521-4567 today.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Shares Football Season Tailgating Tips

September 2nd, 2016

It’s football season, and there’s something wonderful about getting together with family or friends to cheer on your favorite team. Tailgate parties can add even more fun to the game day experience – unless someone in your group ends up being charged with DWI. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to encourage responsible behavior at your tailgate parties this season. Use these tips to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe and out of trouble.

If you are someone who enjoys preparing and serving delicious creations on your tailgate grill, it may be surprising to you that some people do not bring enough food to their tailgate parties. That’s right, some people bring a couple of snacks or even forget the food altogether and focus their efforts on making sure that they have plenty of cold beer and other beverages available for themselves and their guests. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach magnifies the effects that alcohol has on the body, such as impaired judgment. When a person’s judgment is impaired, they are more likely to make poor choices, such as drinking and driving. Bring plenty of food to go along with your drinks to reduce the likelihood that one of your guests will drive while they are under the influence of alcohol.

As important as food is to tailgate parties, water is just as important. Weather during football season can vary dramatically, and when people are out in the sun drinking alcohol, it can affect their bodies more severely if they are dehydrated. Bring a lot of water for yourself and your guests, and encourage everyone to drink at least one cup of water for each alcoholic beverage that they consume.

Keep your drinks separate to avoid confusion and help people make responsible choices about what to drink. If all of the non-alcoholic drink choices are in one cooler and the minors, designated drivers, and others who choose not to drink know where to find them, they are less likely to be tempted by the alcoholic beverages in the other cooler. In conjunction with this tip, also be sure that you know the ages of the people who are drinking at your party to ensure that you do not accidentally serve alcohol to any minors.

Plan ahead for after the game by having telephone numbers of taxi services handy for your guests and designating one or more sober drivers ahead of time. If everyone at your tailgate party knows that they can get a safe ride home, they are less likely to drink and drive.

Keep football season fun for your family and friends by tailgating responsibly. Taking steps to reduce the likelihood that anyone in your group will get a DWI is a good thing to do at tailgate parties and at any other type of social gathering throughout the year where alcohol is served. If you are currently facing DWI charges, speak with a Texas DWI Defense Attorney right away to protect your rights. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has been serving DWI clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years. Call his office today, at 214-521-4567.

 

 

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Want You to Know About ALR

August 30th, 2016

If you have never faced DWI charges in Texas, you may not know that it involves two types of legal proceedings. As in other states, drivers who get arrested for operating vehicles while they are intoxicated face criminal charges. In Texas, though, individuals arrested for DWI also face civil proceedings after their arrests. These proceedings are entirely separate from your criminal DWI case. The civil proceeding that follows a DWI arrest is called Administrative License Revocation (ALR). Drivers who do not know about ALR could lose their driving privileges as the result of their lack of awareness that they must request a hearing within fifteen days of their DWI arrest if they want to retain their driving privileges.

It is essential that drivers know about ALR before they get arrested because it is not always explained clearly during the DWI arrest process. Sometimes, the arresting officer describes the license suspension process in such a way that the driver does not understand that their driving privileges are in danger, when and how their license suspension would take effect, or that they have options for contesting the suspension. The outcome of the ALR process may be that your driver’s license is suspended for a length of time anywhere from ninety days to two years. If you have your CDL, you may also end up with an automatic one-year disqualification as the result of the ALR process.

During your traffic stop, if the law enforcement officer asks you to take a breath or blood test and you either refuse to take it or take it and fail it, you will be served notice that your driver’s license will be suspended. Once you receive that notice, you only have fifteen days to request an ALR hearing. If you do not request a hearing before the fifteen days are up, your license suspension will be set to go into effect on the fortieth day from the date of the notice. If you do request a hearing, know that that hearing has a very limited purpose – to provide the Administrative Law Judge with the information that they need to issue an order stating their decision the matter of your license suspension.

At your ALR hearing, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will attempt to prove that your driver’s license should be suspended because you either had a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater at the time of your arrest or because you refused to submit to blood or breath testing. Since it is a hearing, you have the opportunity to counter the DPS’s evidence. Your attorney will present any available evidence that would tend to show the judge that your license should not be suspended. After your hearing is over, the judge will issue a final, appealable decision and order. If the judge finds that DPS has proven its case, the order will authorize license suspension. Conversely, if the judge decides that DPS has not proven its case, your license will not be suspended.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit – Support for Texas DWI Defendants

Requesting an ALR hearing allows you to contest the proposed suspension of your driver’s license. Since you only have fifteen days to request an ALR hearing, it is important that you contact a Texas DWI Defense Attorney right away. Call Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law today at 214-521-4567.