Archive for the ‘DWI Attorney’ Category

What You Should Know About DWI Penalties

Texas criminal defense attorneyWhen arrested for a DWI, many drivers focus on only the worst consequence – going to jail. If incarceration is not imposed, then a combination of probation and a hefty set of fines is almost always the penalty. But along with that goes another possible loss of freedom: the loss of your license to drive. And your license will be affected even before you appear in court.

When you are arrested for DWI, police officers must take away your Texas driver’s license. That’s even if you agreed to take a breath or blood alcohol test. So don’t be fooled: whether you take the test or not, your license will be taken away upon arrest. But there are ways to get it back as long as you act quickly.

The consequences of a Texas DWI can be harsh

First off, you will be issued a temporary driver’s license by the state, but it’s only good for 41 days. And you have just 15 days after your arrest to request a civil hearing. A favorable outcome will mean you get your license back – and get back to your job and family.

But you must act right away; you only have 15 days to request a hearing and you must do so in writing. Those are two important numbers to remember, 41 and 15, and it may seem confusing to you. That’s why it’s so critical to contact Attorney Joseph LaBella right away so he can fight for you.

At the license hearing, the state has to prove that your arrest was based on probable cause and either that you were either legally impaired or that you failed to take the opportunity to provide a breath or blood test. That means the police officer had to offer you both the blood and breath test and had to explain the consequences to you. A skilled attorney can attack the state’s evidence at this stage and help you get your license back.

If you are convicted of DWI and not jailed, you will still face serious consequences in addition to a loss of license for possibly a year or more. If you are allowed to drive, you may have to pay the cost of having an anti-impairment device on your car ignition. You may also be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines to the court.

The financial drain does not stop there. You will also face much higher costs for your auto insurance when you eventually return to driving. These higher premiums can last for years. You may also be barred from renting a car. Most car rental companies will ask if you have any convictions, and if they find out you were not truthful, you will be barred from doing business with them.

For these reasons, it’s clear you will need a skilled attorney at Joseph LaBella and Associates. They are trained to fight for you.

Underage DWI Can Have Serious Consequences for Texas Defendants

Texas criminal defense attorneyFor many years, drunk driving has been the subject of intense activism and media coverage. The public is generally aware that criminal penalties for drinking and driving are severe. But there are also many collateral consequences to having an underage DWI conviction on your criminal record. It is therefore critical that defendants have good legal counsel to ensure that they are treated fairly throughout the charging process.

The Expected Consequences of an Underage DUI

Texas statutes have enacted a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Under Chapter 4, Section 106.041 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, a minor is guilty of Driving Under the Influence – a Class C misdemeanor – if he or she operates a motor vehicle with any detectable alcohol in his or her system. A minor convicted of this offense must be ordered to serve between twenty and forty hours of community service if it is the first offense, or between forty and sixty hours for repeat offense. All community service must be related to education or prevention of the misuse of alcohol. License suspensions also apply for underage DUI convictions. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, a minor’s driver’s license is suspended for sixty days for the first offense, 120 days for a second offense, and 180 days for third and subsequent convictions.

The Unexpected Consequences of a DWI

While most defendants understand that they face a combination of fines, jail time, and ignition interlock use, they are painfully unaware of the collateral consequences that a DWI conviction can bring. First, the court process is not a simple matter of filling out forms. It requires multiple appearances at the court which often result in missing work. Court-ordered community service and substance abuse classes take more time and can further aggravate the defendant’s employer. Furthermore, the sentenced fine is not the only cost a DWI defendant must pay. There are court fees, administrative fees, attorney’s fees, and other fees which add up quickly. Finally, defendants do not always realize the impact of having a criminal record. This can preclude employment and educational opportunities. Social events and relationships can also be impacted.

A defendant’s employment can also be affected by his or her professional licensure. Many licensing entities in Texas require reporting of criminal convictions, and some even require reporting of arrests and other pre-conviction proceedings. A first time DWI offense can cause a defendant to spend many hours attempting to secure his or her professional licensure. This, too, can incur more attorneys fees. Finally, it is important to realize how much time must be spent at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to reinstate driving privileges after a DWI conviction. A special restricted license must be obtained for the period in which a defendant has an ignition interlock device. When this period is successfully completed, the defendant must obtain the appropriate court order and return to the DMV to have his or her regular driver’s license reinstated. This process is neither fun nor fast.

These and many other consequences of DWI can make a defendant’s life difficult long after the court case has been finalized. A Texas DWI defense lawyer can help underage defendants mitigate the damage of a criminal conviction.

Collateral Consequences of a Drug Possession Offense in Texas

Texas criminal defense attorneyIn the history of American criminal justice, drug offenses have generally been subject to some of the harshest penalties, despite the majority of them being non-violent offenses.

The current penal code in effect in Texas is no different. Defendants convicted of drug offenses are subject to jail time, fines and court fees, substance abuse counseling, community service, driver’s license suspension and a host of other sanctions. Even a first offense can carry serious penalties for charges of drug possession.

No criminal defense attorney can promise a particular outcome, but an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the system, protect your rights, work to suppress evidence harmful to your case, negotiate favorable plea deals and, in some cases and work toward a successful trial verdict.

The Criminal Penalties for a First Offense of Drug Possession

The sentencing for drug offenses is set forth in Section 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. Sentences are determined based upon (1) the type of drug, and (2) the quantity of the drug. Based upon these factors, the possession offense is classified as a:

  • Class C misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of up to $500)
  • Class B misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of up to $2000, up to 180 days in jail, or both)
  • Class C misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of up to $4000, up to one year in jail, or both)
  • State jail felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of 180 days to two years)
  • Third degree felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of two to ten years)
  • Second degree felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of two to twenty years)
  • First degree felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of five to ninety-nine years)

The Collateral Consequences of a Drug Conviction

Many criminal defendants are painfully unaware of the collateral consequences of a conviction for drug possession – even if it is a first offense.

The criminal process is lengthy, and often results in a significant amount of missed work. Job prospects are usually severely limited after a drug conviction – even if it is a misdemeanor. The consequences of a criminal record is not limited only to job opportunities, either housing, professional licensure, education, welfare benefits, military records, immigration status, the right to serve in public office, and social opportunities can all be limited by the nature of a drug conviction. Civil rights are also revoked automatically after a felony conviction, including: the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury and the right to possess a firearm.

A court can order a criminal defendant to undergo substance abuse screening or treatment as it deems necessary. This, too, can incur significant investments of time and money, but it is a critical step toward rebuilding one’s life after a drug conviction. If the drug offense involved driving under the influence, a significant investment of time and money would be needed in order to restore a defendant’s driving privileges.

Because a drug conviction can carry such devastating and long-lasting consequences, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel from the beginning of your case. Not only do defendants have a constitutional right to be represented by counsel, but the collateral consequences of a drug conviction can be mitigated by effective legal representation.

Protect your legal rights by contacting a Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Consequences of a First Time DWI Offense in Texas

Texas criminal defense attorneyIt a lesson that many criminal defendants learn the hard way: even the first DUI offense can carry costly, time-consuming consequences which plague the defendant’s life for years to come. A sentence in the criminal court is just the start of a long and painful process.


Mandatory Sentencing for a DWI

The Texas Penal Code makes the following provision for sentencing a defendant for a first DWI offense:

  • Without prior convictions, a DWI is designated as a class four misdemeanor. (Texas Statutes, Title 10 49.09)
  • Class Four Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $4000, a jail term of up to one year, or both. (Texas Statutes, Title 3 12.21)

The Texas Statutes also provide for the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Under Title 7 §524.001, an arresting officer must take a DWI suspect’s driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension, along with a temporary license valid for forty one days. The Department of Public Safety must then suspend the driver’s license if the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. This entire process in entirely independent of any criminal proceedings.

Once a defendant incurs a second DWI within five years, the court must order the defendant to install an ignition interlock device, which prevents the defendant from operating the vehicle without first passing a breath test.  (Texas Statutes, Title 10 §49.09(h)). The Defendant is prohibited from driving any vehicle without an ignition interlock device during this time. If a defendant is proven to have any prior DWIs, he or she must also be sentenced to jail for a minimum of thirty days. (Texas Statutes, Title 10 §49.09(a)).

The Consequences That Many Defendants Don’t Know About 

Unfortunately, there are many collateral consequences of a DWI conviction beyond the mandatory sentence in the criminal case.  Any DWI case requires several court appearances, which are often during work hours. Community service also impacts a defendant’s performance at work. Substance abuse screening or counseling can also be ordered by the court, and this, too, can require a defendant to miss even more time from work. On the whole, the chances of getting thorough a DWI case without any impact upon the defendant’s work life are not great.

There are also administrative consequences for a DWI defendant’s driver’s license. The driver must meet all requirements and apply for reinstatement of his or her license through the Texas Department of Public Safety. As with most DMV matters, this process is neither quick nor pleasant. If a driver has temporary or restricted driving privileges reinstated, this requires yet another administrative process upon eligibility for reinstatement of full driving privileges.

There are many collateral consequences to any DWI conviction, even if it is the first offense. Defendants can protect their legal rights by consulting with an experienced Texas DWI attorney. Attorney Joseph J. Labella has over twenty years of experience in successfully defending DWI cases. He ensures that DWI defendants have their rights protected to ensure a just outcome for their legal cases.