Recent blog posts

Police Targeting Drunk Drivers Near Bars Does Not Equal EntrapmentPolice officers know the times when and places where people are most likely to commit a driving while intoxicated offense. Thus, police cars are often parked near bars and entertainment venues late at night, looking for drivers who show signs of impairment. This may seem unfair if you are one of the unfortunate people pulled over. Some defendants wonder whether this form of targeting qualifies as entrapment. However, it is rare to be able to prove that a police officer is guilty of entrapment in a DWI case. Claiming that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over is a more successful defensive strategy.

Entrapment

The legal definition of entrapment is when a police officer induces a defendant to commit a criminal offense which the defendant would not have otherwise committed. An officer watching for drunk drivers near a place where people have been drinking does not qualify as entrapment because the officer is not inducing the driver to:

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Field Sobriety Test Not Enough to Prove IntoxicationField sobriety tests are one of the initial tools police officers will use to determine whether someone is driving while intoxicated. Officers administering the tests are looking for signs of delayed reactions, poor coordination and an inability to follow directions, which may show that the driver is impaired. Officers and prosecutors have come to assume that certain standard tests are reliable in predicting intoxication. However, the tests do not definitively prove intoxication. Defendants can contest their DWI charges if the evidence relies too much on the field sobriety test results.

Test Origins

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted the standard field sobriety tests based on a California study conducted during the late 1970s. Police officers were asked to judge whether subjects were intoxicated by using various field sobriety tests. Researchers identified three tests as having the highest accuracy rates:

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Texas Man Claims DWI Laws Discriminate Against AlcoholicsA Texas man recently garnered attention when he contested his driving while intoxicated conviction by arguing that a Texas DWI law is unconstitutional. Specifically, he claimed that the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit discriminates against alcoholics. Neither the trial court nor the appellate court found the argument convincing, upholding the man’s conviction. There are reasons to question whether the BAC limit is an accurate measure of a driver's impairment. However, the defendant’s argument had little chance of succeeding because he was asking for special treatment, not equality.

Case Details

The defendant was facing his fourth DWI conviction when he attempted to quash the charges by challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ DWI law. A first or second DWI conviction is a misdemeanor unless there are aggravating factors. A third DWI conviction is a third-degree felony, which may result in:

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Posted on in DWI / DUI

Golf Carts Fall Under DWI LawOccasionally, you may read a story about someone who was charged with driving while intoxicated after a crash involving a golf cart. Because the vehicle is normally used for recreational purposes, it is common for people driving golf carts to also enjoy a few drinks. Driving a golf cart while intoxicated does not seem the same as driving a car because of the smaller size and power of the vehicle. However, Texas law treats it as a crime if you are caught.

Using Golf Carts

DWI laws apply to golf carts because Texas law classifies them as motor vehicles. Their use is regulated in different ways than a normal motor vehicle:

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Lowering BAC Limit Would Increase Criminalization of DriversA recent report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that all states lower the blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05 for charges of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol. The report states that:

  • Deterioration in driving skills starts before people reach the 0.08 BAC limit; and
  • Countries that use a 0.05 BAC limit have seen a decrease in vehicle accidents.

To be clear, there are no signs that Texas is considering lowering the legal limit. However, Utah became the first state to adopt a 0.05 BAC limit with a law it passed last year. The change is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 30. Depending on the results, other states may pass similar laws. If the federal government supports the new BAC limit, it may offer incentives to states that comply. The goal of lowering the BAC limit is to increase driver safety. There are a couple of reasons why it may instead increase the criminalization of drivers:

  1. Inexact Number: A 0.08 BAC level is an attempt to create an objective measurement of when someone’s alcohol consumption has impaired his or her driving. It is the best estimate but not an exact line for everyone. Some drivers show no signs of impairment when their BAC is greater than 0.08, let alone 0.05. Lowering the BAC limit increases the number of people who are driving illegally, but not the number of dangerous drivers.
  2. Lower Threshold: How easy is it to have a BAC of 0.05? It may take only one drink for a woman weighing 120 pounds. She may be able to drive home without drawing police attention if her driving shows no signs of impairment. However, a routine police stop or sobriety checkpoint may allow a police officer to notice the smell of alcohol on her breath. With a 0.05 BAC limit, there is an increased chance that a BAC test will result in an arrest.
  3. Unfit Punishment: Though Utah lowered its BAC limit, it has not changed its penalties for a DUI conviction. An advisory council dismissed a suggestion that a lesser punishment should be created for drivers with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08. There is some debate about whether having a 0.05 BAC impairs a driver more than using a phone while driving. A first-time distracted driving offense may result in a fine of $100 or less. A first-time DWI offense may result in thousands of dollars in fines and jail time.

Protecting Drivers

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