Intoxemeters FST .054

DWI laws, they are a changin’

Intoxemeters FST .054

Intoxemeters FST .054 Jay Cohen

Utah lawmakers voted to lower the legal limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol from 0.08 to 0.05. If the Governor signs the bill, it would go into effect December 30, 2018.

Utah would have the toughest drunk-driving laws in the USA.

This means a person could have as little as one drink and wind up behind bars.

These changing laws make it more important than ever to hire the best Houston DWI lawyer. Breath tests are not always right, there are many factors that can cause a breath testing machine to spit out a number that is just not accurate.

Call Jay Cohen 713-225-1900. Keeping innocent people innocent.

 

[via SLTRIB]

Adderall Vyvanse

Legislative mistake reduces penalties for some drug offenses

Adderall Vyvanse

Adderall Vyvanse

The Texas legislature amended Health & Safety Code §481.103 with the intention of outlawing  more synthetic drugs. In an attempt to sell a legal product, individuals have been producing synthetic drugs that have slightly different chemical structures than naturally occurring substances that are already outlawed. These new drugs have a similar effect on the body and could be sold legally. Naturally, law enforcement and the legislature have gotten together to make their jobs more relevant, increase revenue, clog the court systems and prisons, and label more citizens as criminals. Lawmakers were more focused on patting each other on the back and giving high fives than drafting the actual bill. According to the bill, if a drug is approved by the FDA and listed in this penalty group, the penalty group does not apply, and notwithstanding any other law, a person may not be convicted for the manufacture or delivery of the substance under §481.113 or for possession of the substance under §481.116. This resulted in a final change to the law that is counterintuitive and reduces the penalties for some substances from a felony offense to a misdemeanor. Specifically, amphetamine, its salts, optical isomers, and salts of optical isomers (more commonly known as Adderall), lisdexamfetamine, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers (more commonly known as Vyvanse), dronabinol, and nabilone. This law went into effect on September 15, 2015, however most prosecutors and defense lawyers were unaware of the change. Many people have been wrongfully charged and likely wrongfully punished for possession of these substances. This is another reason it is important to have a Houston criminal defense lawyer that focuses on drug charges so you can get the best possible result.

If you have been charged with, or convicted of, possession of adderall or vyvanse, click here to contact Jay Cohen or call 713-225-1900 to discuss your case.

The CSI Effect and DUI Trial Reality

 

TV and Hollywood have an amazing ability to create dramatically fantastical worlds, from what is otherwise a far more mundane side of life, and the process of criminal investigation by law enforcement on TV is one of these categories. Thanks to the success of series shows like C.S.I., the general public now has a collective impression that, not only can investigators solve cases from microscopic pieces of evidence at the scene of an alleged crime, they can also tell entire stories via computer generation based on that same evidence. Not surprisingly, people who have never been in a criminal trial proceeding, come in with all sorts of expectations, as well as thresholds that law enforcement must meet to make a good case.

However, what is realistically needed to actually prove a case to a conviction is far from the technical science imagined on TV programs. Instead, a good amount of the evidence used is based on witness statements, written reports by the officers involved, photographs, and the big variable bucket of circumstantial evidence. This last issue is the one that people should really be worried about, because it falls on the assumption that the evidence connecting someone to a general location, time, or place, is enough to support a conviction of guilt.  In fact, no one has to actually prove that the person committed the act per se; placement is enough. It’s a far cry from the world of TV, with it’s fanciful stories of computer-generated explanations, and a very different idea than what the average person thinks is “proof beyond a doubt.”

For a party accused of driving while intoxicated or a DUI, for example, a typical case will more than likely be based on an officer’s report, a toxicology report from the defendant’s blood sample or Breathalyzer test once arrested, and witness statements. Two out of three of those evidence categories are extremely subjective, and influenced by the officer or witnesses’ opinion on the matter, no matter how fact-based the statement. In addition, unless the defendant can create a strong enough counter-argument with his own witnesses or solid scientific evidence, he’s likely to get convicted by a jury, mostly because of the general social sentiment against drunk driving and related accidents.

3D png Judges Gavel

The expertise of a practiced trial attorney, skilled in arguing DUI defense cases, is critical. Not only for basic defense, but for the education and experience in knowing how to counter the low-level basis of evidence typically used by the prosecution in such cases, as well.  Silence is definitely not the tactic to fall back on in these situations. A good defense will introduce far more concrete evidence than a few witness statements, solidly bringing into doubt the prosecution’s version of what occurred. Most importantly though, defendants have to get it clear as soon as possible, there is no CSI threshold the state has to meet in a DUI trial; that’s make-believe on TV. People have been, and often are, convicted on a lot less every day, absent a good defense.

First DWI Offense: What You Need to Know

If you’re like most people, when you realize you’ve received a DWI you’re hungover and feel like dirt. Knowing you tried to drive last night doesn’t make you feel any better. The fact that you feel such remorse shows you aren’t a bad person, but just someone who made a mistake. It’s different for someone who makes five-ish or twenty mistakes, but Texas State Law allows first offenders to prove it was a one-time lack of judgment. It’s not the end of the world, but there is a procedure to go through to resolve the issue.

What You Need to Know

Texas State Law is very specific as to how a DWI is treated by both the DMV and the courts. The first thing to happen is your license is revoked and a temporary permit issued until your court date, at which time your license will be suspended for up to two years unless you agree to have your car equipped with an Interlok Breathalyzer System to prevent it from running without verification of a sober driver. For some people, the license suspension can be the worst aspect of the DWI penalties as it interrupts your ability to conduct routine business.

In addition to the license suspension, if convicted there will be a fine up to $2,000. There is an additional license reinstatement fee of $125 along with payments for the Interlock System. There may be further fees associated with community service and probation along with one-time or ongoing attorney fees as the situation calls for and a fee for a bail bondsman at the time of the initial arrest.

Jail time of course can’t be overlooked as part of the penalty. In addition to the time served as part of the initial arrest, jail time can be from three to 180 days. Additionally, if there was an open container in the vehicle, the minimum becomes six days. A number of factors are evaluated to determine the exact sentence, including such things as gross intoxication, whether minors were in the car, your cooperation with the officer during the arrest, and even your demeanor during court proceedings. There may be additional charges if applicable for other crimes committed during the driving episode, most notably damages or injuries caused.

What You Need to Do

Don’t drive during a license suspension as it can be devastating to the case. Abide by any other instructions given to you by police, jailers or preliminary hearing judges. You may want an alcohol assessment to present in court, along with arranging for character witnesses to appear.

You need to hire an attorney to represent you in court, and follow any advice he may give you. A lawyer may be able to find a technicality in the way the arrest was conducted or how the paperwork was filled out which discards the evidence against you. Otherwise, he’ll be able to argue for leniency and get you the lightest sentence possible.

Motorist Arrested in Grand Prairie After Fatally Running Over Man

Police say a man has been arrested in connection with the Monday manslaughter death of a sleeping man in Grand Prairie. Police were called to the 4500 block of Rosedale Drive around 10:30 p.m. to respond to an argument between possibly intoxicated men. However, when police arrived, Martinon began trying to elude officers in his pickup. While cutting across a grassy area to get to the interstate, Martinon ran over 60-year-old Paul Rummelhart. Martinon then turned off his headlights and lost officers in Dallas’ Ledbetter neighborhood. Police say they were able to identify Martinon based on witness statements. Grand Prairie police solicited the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, who located and arrested Martinon Tuesday night in Dallas.

Officers say Paul Rummelhart has no ties to the Grand Prairie area and believe he was traveling or hitchhiking. He was sleeping in a sleeping bag when he was run over and killed.

Now being held in the Grand Prairie Detention Center, Martinon’s bail is set at $500,000. His manslaughter charge joins prior felony warrants for resisting arrest, evading arrest, and misdemeanor traffic violations.

Penalties in Texas

In Texas, manslaughter is referred to as recklessly causing the death of another human being and comes with penalties of up to 20 years in the department of corrections. Resisting arrest, a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas, and is punishable by up to $4,000 in fines and one year in prison. Felony resisting arrest, however, in which a deadly weapon is used, is punishable by up to ten years and a $10,000 fine.

In addition to jail time and hefty fines, criminal charges affect nearly every aspect of one’s personal life. Following a criminal conviction, many people experience the following personal consequences:

  • Termination from employment
  • Eviction from their rental property
  • Inability to secure new employment
  • Inability to rent property
  • Strained relationships with family
  • Financial hardship
  • Inability to secure education funding
  • Inability to foster or adopt a child
  • Restriction from voting
  • Social stigma

What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested

If you’ve been arrested for evading or resisting arrest, driving while intoxicated, manslaughter, or an unrelated charge, seek counsel from a qualified criminal defense attorney before you participate in police interview or interrogation. Speaking with law enforcement without guidance from a qualified attorney may result in unknowingly incriminating yourself and change the course of your personal and professional future. For the fair representation you deserve, contact Jay Cohen at (713) 352-1637 or by using the short and simple contact form. We strive to provide the best representation at an affordable price to ensure everybody gets the defense they deserve when facing life-altering criminal charges.

Getting Arrested for Marijuana in Light of Increasing Legalization

Marijuana is increasingly becoming legal for both medical and recreational use in many states throughout the country. It is, however, still illegal in most states, depending on how it is being used. This discrepancy in laws can complicate matters when an individual is arrested for marijuana use or possession. The following information discusses the recent laws that have been enacted regarding this issue, how this can affect the case of an individual who has been arrested, and the steps you can take if you have been arrested for marijuana.

The Increasing Legalization of Marijuana For Medical and Recreational Use

There are currently at least 24 states that have legalized some form of marijuana use. Earlier this year Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signed legislation making limited amounts of marijuana legal for medical reasons. While this law is limited in scope and not nearly as broad as laws in some other states, it does show a trend in the overall legalization of the drug. With increased legalization it would seem that arrests for the drug would be in decline. This doesn’t seem to be the case, however, with arrests for marijuana increasing nationwide in 2014. In fact, according to FBI statistics, approximately half of all drug arrests in the United States are marijuana related.

How Increased Legalization Can Affect Being Arrested for Marijuana

Even though many states have now legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, federal law currently does not recognize or protect any type of marijuana use. This conflict between state and federal laws will likely cause increasing problems in our court system. Even if you are arrested by state or local authorities in a state that has legalized marijuana use, it is still possible that you will face charges if you have more than the legal amount or are driving under the influence. If you have been drinking any amount of alcohol this can further complicate the situation.

What You Should Do If You Are Arrested for Marijuana

There are a few important things to keep in mind if you are ever arrested. Don’t answer any questions without an attorney being present. You are not required by law to do so. There are potentially several defenses that could be used if the case goes to court. Potential charges and defense tactics that could be used will depend on a number of circumstances. Because of the intricacies of the law and how you’ll be charged is dependent on many factors, it is imperative to seek legal assistance as quickly as possible. If you have been arrested for marijuana use or possession you need a qualified attorney who has experience handling drug related cases.  Jay Cohen is a Houston based attorney who is committed to defending individuals who have been arrested on alcohol and drug charges. The first consultation and case evaluation is free. Contact Jay Cohen Attorney at Law for more information.

Thanks to Uber, Fewer DWIs in Houston

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>There have been many concerns about the famed rideshare company, Uber. From complaints that Uber is taking over taxi drivers’ jobs to wonders about how the company will insure drivers and passengers to allegations of sexual assault, there are few complaints that Uber hasn’t heard. But amidst all of the hubbub, there’s one clear benefit to Uber arriving in Houston: fewer <a title=”cases of drinking and driving” href=”http://www.cohendwilawyer.com/texas-dwi-facts/” target=”_blank”>cases of drinking and driving</a> have been reported since the rideshare company’s arrival.</span>

<b>Rates of Drinking and Driving in Texas</b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Texas has more accidents caused by drinking and driving than does nearly any other state in the nation. In fact, in the recent year</span><a href=”http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/state-stats/Texas.html”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, drunk driving fatalities represented 39.5 percent of all traffic deaths</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> in the state. And in Houston, the trend is no different; Houston continuously ranks near the top in terms of the number of drunk driving accidents that occur in the area every year.</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>But the introduction of Uber may change all that.</span>

<b>Providing Safe Rides for Houston Customers</b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Uber prides itself on the fact that its rideshare service is affordable </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>and</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> that it offers those who have had a drink (or two or more) a safe way to get home. And over the past 18 months—the same amount of time that Uber has been operating in Houston’s city limits—the</span><a href=”http://www.click2houston.com/news/is-uber-cutting-down-on-drunken-driving-arrests/35074008″> <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>rate of drunk driving accidents and convictions has fallen dramatically</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>. Before Uber’s arrival in 2013, the number of driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) arrests totaled 6,205. One year later, that same number has been reduced by nearly 16 percent to 5,182. And in the first six months of 2015, there have been 2,0888 DWI arrests. If this trend continues, then a 19.4 percent reduction in DWI arrests will be the result.</span>

<b>Is Uber to thank for the decline in DWI arrests?</b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>When Police Chief Charles McClelland was asked by KPRC News 2 whether or not he believes that Uber is the force behind the large decline in the number of DWI arrests, he responded by saying that he believes, “any type of alternative mode of transportation other than people getting behind the wheel drunk,” has some kind of impact.</span>

<b>When a Rideshare Doesn’t Keep You from Driving</b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Taking a ride share or another alternative mode of transportation when you have had a drink is within your best interest. In the event that you have been charged with a DWI, though, you need the legal services of the attorneys at Jay Cohen Attorney at Law to help you build your defense. To meet with</span> <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>our experienced DWI attorneys</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> today, call us now at (713) 225-1900.</span>

Former State Representative Convicted of Drunk Driving in Texas

Getting convicted of drinking and driving can change your life for the worse. This is especially true if you hold a job where upholding the law is extremely important, such as a teacher or police officer. Former house representative and general counsel for Texas Health and Human Services, Jack Stick, can probably speak to this; Mr. Stick was convicted of a drunk driving charge on Monday, September 21st.

A 2012 Arrest, a 2015 Conviction

Jack Stick’s drinking and driving charge dates all the way back to September 11, 2012, when he was arrested by police officers in Austin after he refused to take a field sobriety test when pulled over by officers. At the time of arrest, Stick’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was .096 percent, an amount far above the legal limit of .08 percent.

Stick’s Lawyer Says He Wasn’t Drunk

Despite the incriminating evidence against Stick, such as Stick’s confession at the time of arrest that performing a field sobriety test would incriminate him, as well as the BAC level revealed above, Stick’s lawyer, Brian Roarke, told the jury that Stick was “as sober as you and I are here today” at the time of his arrest. He also said that blood alcohol tests are extremely fallible.

Despite the plea, the jury found Stick to be guilty.

Penalties Stick Faces

While the prosecutor pushed for harsh penalties for stick—jail time or an 18-month probationary period and community service and counseling—the judge presiding over the case, Nancy Hohengarten, said she believed a lighter sentence was fair. As such, she sentenced Stick to six days in jail, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension for driving while intoxicated.

How a DUI/DWI Conviction Can Change Your Life

Being convicted of a DUI or a DWI in Texas is embarrassing. What’s more, it can be financially costly, and result in jail time. Perhaps worst of all, it can affect your ability to get hired for a job, find housing, or participate in certain programs or opportunities.

What to Do if Facing DWI Charges in Houston

If you are facing DWI charges in Houston, you need an attorney who can negotiate a plea deal on your behalf to have your sentence reduced, or advocate for you to prove your innocence. At Jay Cohen Attorney at Law, we’re ready to do what’s right for you. Call us today to schedule a consultation and learn more at (713) 225-1900.

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DWI= Possible Prison, Large Fines, and High Insurance Costs

Getting a DWI in the state of Texas carries more than just legal repercussions and court fees; it can significantly increase your car insurance, rate, too. A recent article published by The Dallas Morning News highlights the high costs of insurance in the state of Texas (especially for drivers with a low credit score) and how those costs can skyrocket after being convicted on a driving while impaired, or DWI, charge.

A Look at Average New Customer Premiums For Car Insurance in Texas

The Texas Department of Insurance requires all drivers of motor vehicles to carry automobile insurance in Texas. However, for many people, these costs aren’t cheap. Here’s a look at the average cost of premiums (per year) for car insurance for new customers in Texas with:

• Excellent credit – $1,338
• Good credit – $1,631
• Poor credit – $3,426
• Excellent credit, with DWI – $2,435

While the above shows that those with a weak credit score often pay more for insurance than do those who have received a DWI, those who have poor credit and have a DWI on their personal record pay the most by far. As such, those who have received a DWI conviction may pay upwards of $1,000 more per year for auto insurance than will non-DWI offenders.

Other Penalties for Those Convicted of a DWI Charge

Having a higher insurance rate isn’t all that DWI offenders have to worry about; in addition to paying more for insurance premiums, those convicted of a DWI charge can lose their driver’s license (and have to pay up to $3,000 to have it reinstated), pay a fine of up to $2,000, and may even have to serve up to six months in jail. For a second or third time DWI-offense, the penalties are even more severe. Of course, a DWI can have more serious and permanent repercussions too, especially if you cause property or bodily damage while driving while intoxicated.

Avoiding Major Penalties when Charged with a DWI

It’s important to remember that a DWI charge is much different than a DWI conviction. And if you’ve been charged with a DWI in Houston, you still have an opportunity to fight it and reduce your risk of being subjected to high insurance premiums, jail time, fines, and more.

At the law offices of Jay Cohen Attorney at Law, our DWI attorneys will collect evidence for your case, help you determine whether to plead guilty or not guilty, and work on your behalf to negotiate a plea bargain if necessary. For help understanding DWI law and consequences, and how to protect yourself if charged with a DWI in Texas, call us today at 713-225-1900.

Texas Troopers Increase Patrols as Labor Day Weekend Approaches

While Labor Day Weekend may still be a couple of weeks away, Texas’ troopers have already announced plans to increase patrols for the four-day period between Friday and Monday, September 4th through 7th. The increase in patrols, says the Texas Department of Public Safety, is an effort to prevent drunk driving and stop DWI accidents before they happen.

Labor Day Weekend Deadly in Texas

Labor Day Weekend is one of the deadliest in the state of Texas. In 2014, there were a total of 38 fatal crashes, and 44 fatalities, from Friday through Monday of the Labor Day Weekend according to the Texas Department of Transportation. With the exception of the Thanksgiving Weekend, Labor Day Weekend in 2014 was the deadliest for drivers in the state.

State Troopers Not Alone

It’s not just Texas’ state troopers who will be stepping up patrols over the holiday weekend; local police departments throughout the state have also announced plans to increase the number of officers watching for drunk drivers. The San Juan and Hidalgo County Police Departments, for example, have stated that they will conduct ‘no refusal’ weekends. During these weekends, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test can result in major penalties, including license suspension. What’s more, a no-refusal weekend also allows officers to obtain search warrants for blood samples—often via phone call—to check for blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. Increased patrols that target drinking and driving are being funded by a grant through the Texas Department of Transportation.

Tips for a Safe—and Legal—Holiday Weekend

The Texas Department of Public Safety has also published some safety tips for those traveling during the Labor Day weekend. Amongst these tips, drivers are encouraged to:

• Take a cab or call a friend if drinking;
• Eliminate distractions;
• Buckle up;
• Slow down;
• Avoid fatigued driving;
• Pull over for police; and
• Maintain their vehicles.

Drinking sober and seatbelt use, in particular, are especially important. Seatbelt use has been proven to be a life-saving measure, and can significantly reduce a person’s risk of injury when involved in a crash. What’s more, if you notice a drunk driver during the holiday weekend—or any other time—make sure you keep a safe distance, and report the driver to law enforcement officials immediately.

What to Do if Charged with a DWI in Texas

If you are charged with a DWI during the Labor Day weekend or at any other point, the best thing that you can do is contact an attorney who’s experienced in DWI law. The legal team at Jay Cohen Attorney at Law will make sure that your interests are protected, and that you know your rights when charged with a DWI crime. To learn more and to schedule a free case review, call us today at 713-225-1900 or request a consultation online.