Archive for February, 2015

Drugged Driving an Increasing Focus of Law Enforcement


Texas criminal defense attorneyIn Houston, TX, you can be arrested if you have a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit, which is set at .08 BAC. However, you can also be arrested for impaired driving even if you are not over-the-limit on alcohol. If you have drugs in your system, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, then you can find yourself charged with an impaired driving offense. A DWI arrest can lead to the loss of your driver’s license, a criminal record and potentially a requirement to complete a mandatory drug counseling program.

A DUI defense lawyer can provide you with legal representation in both drunk driving and drugged driving cases. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a report indicating that there are fewer drunk drivers on the road than in past history but that the number of drugged drivers is increasing. As more evidence comes to light that there has been a shift in who is driving impaired, law enforcement practices are shifting to ensure there is sufficient focus on identifying drugged drivers. This can mean a greater crackdown on people who may have potentially used marijuana or other drugs before getting behind the wheel.

Drugged Driving is On-the-Rise

Over the past 40 years, the NHTSA has conducted five roadside surveys of drivers. These surveys are set up as road blocks, and drivers are given plenty of warning that a road block is upcoming. Motorists who go through the road block have their BAC tested and can be tested for drugs in their system. If someone does turn out to be impaired, he is not arrested. The data on impairment is collected anonymously in order to get a better understanding of how many people are drunk or high behind the wheel at any given time.

The reports from the most recent national roadside survey have been released and they show that there has been a 30 percent decline between 2007 and 2014 in the number of people with a BAC above the legal limit. Just eight percent of motorists were found to have any alcohol in their system and just one percent were found to be over-the-limit. Compared with the first NHTSA roadside survey that was performed in 1973, this was an 80 percent drop in the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol. This low number shows the effectiveness both of public education campaigns organized by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as well as the aggressive policing of drunk drivers.

The number of drivers who were found to be on drugs, however, has increased. From 2007 to 2014, the number of weekend nighttime drivers who had drugs in their system increased by 16.3 percent.

It is more difficult for law enforcement officers to identify drugged drivers in many cases, but as studies continue to show an increase in the number of drugged drivers, it is likely that law enforcement officers and lawmakers will begin exploring new ways to solve the problem of drugged driving.

Call Joseph LaBella & Associates today at 800-395-5951 or visit to speak with a Houston DUI defense lawyer. Serving Harris County, Montgomery County, and communities along Interstate 45 through The Woodlands and Conroe. 

Could Texas Drunk Drivers Be Prohibited From Buying Alcohol?


Texas criminal defense attorneyDrunk drivers throughout Harris County, Montgomery County and surrounding areas face many serious criminal penalties when they are convicted of driving under the influence. A criminal record can limit future job opportunities. The temporary suspension of a license can make it difficult to fulfill personal, professional and family obligations. The record of the DWI  can raise insurance costs for years to come, and the fines and costs from the trial and penalties can be financially devastating.

These consequences are very harsh for someone who may have just had a momentary lapse in judgment or made a simple mistake and who was convicted for impaired driving as a result. Yet, even with DWIs carrying such stringent penalties, a DWI defense lawyer knows that lawmakers regularly take steps to come down even harder on drunk drivers. In part, this is because of intense pressure from public advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Whatever the motivation, lawmakers in one state are considering imposing draconian restrictions unlike any that currently exist.

Could States Prevent Drunk Drivers From Buying Alcohol?

According to Fox News, a senator in Oklahoma has introduced a bill that would give judges the authority to impose and enforce alcohol restrictions on people as a consequence of impaired driving charges. Senate Bill 30 requests that procedures be developed to require drunk driving offenders to refrain from buying or even consuming alcohol for a period of time that is up to the discretion of the judge.

There are currently no laws anywhere the country imposing a blanket prohibition on any group’s right to consume alcohol after reaching the legal drinking age of 21. There are significant questions about whether this proposed law would even be constitutional. There are also practical enforcement questions. For example, would restaurants be allowed to serve food that had alcohol in it to someone who had been convicted of drunk driving, or would a DUI offender still be able to take communion or participate in religious ceremonies that involve alcohol?

The bill does not spell out answers to these questions. The proposed law sets forth the general guidelines for how the prohibition would work. DWI offenders would be required to order and use a replacement identification that had the words “Alcohol Restricted”  printed on its front. As a result, when people have to show ID to buy alcohol, the clerk would be alerted that the buyer was not allowed to make the purchase.  The law also specifies that if someone was caught buying alcohol for anyone that he or she knew was alcohol restricted, that person could face felony charges. Penalties could include up to a year of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.

If Oklahoma does pass this law, it will apply only in-state and won’t directly affect Texans. However, other states could adopt similar laws if Oklahoma leads the way. This would significantly curtail the rights of people who have faced drunk driving charges.

Call Joseph LaBella & Associates today at 800-395-5951 or visit to speak with a Houston DWI defense lawyer. Serving Harris County, Montgomery County, and communities along Interstate 45 through The Woodlands and Conroe.