So That's What SOAH Stands For

 Administrative Law Judges handle all sorts of cases for the State Office of Administrative Hearings – aka SOAH - from the tremendously boring, such as boat motor sales and use tax cases, to the no doubt endlessly fascinating scenarios where a trucking company is alleged to have failed to carry a required certificate of registration. (I know so little about those cases that I can barely understand what is written in the previous sentence; frankly, I cribbed it from the “about us” page on the SOAH website.)

Of course, they also handle license revocations arising out of DWIs. I got to my ALR this week a little early, and stuck my head in a different courtroom than the one my client’s case was being heard, to chat with a Judge. He handed me a printout of this – sorry, just click the link – it’ll look better from the original website than if I try to cut and paste it into a little box on this blog.

Apparently that site is all the rage on whatever informal listserv the subset of ALR Administrative Law Judges use. Probably the others too, but it seems most (least?) appropriate for the DWI court personnel. 

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Witness Chicken (The Police Version)

Maybe your client is guilty. Maybe it will be easy for the State to prove that your client is guilty. That is, if they can get their witnesses to show up.

There are all sorts of reasons that defense lawyers set cases for hearings and trials, not the least of which is that they expect(well… hope?) that a judge will suppress some or all of the evidence, or that a jury will find their client not guilty.

Occasionally a client will even volunteer this as the solution to their problems, “What are the chances that so-and-so won’t show up, and my case will be dismissed?”

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SCRAM Violation? Maybe, Maybe Not...

From an out of state commenter:

I received a summons today to appear in court next week. The papers did not even include what the appearance would be for. I have been on the SCRAM bracelet for two months now. This is the second time that I have been notified of violation of the bracelet.

The first was just a failure to download. I just received a prerecorded phone call for that violation, "no biggy." Today when I called the court house to find out why I had to appear, I was informed it was a violation from SCRAM.

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DWI Defendants Are Coming! Away! Which Way?

Just in from a marketer via email, with the title line “Thousands of DUI Defendents are Coming!”:

Because we are the #1 Google ranked DUI/DWI website, thousands of DUI/DWI defendents[sic – I couldn’t bring myself to misspell it in the title of my post though] will come to our site next week looking for an attorney. Will you get your share?

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The Will Of The People

Here’s the text of the resolution, along with my running commentary , on last week’s City Council agenda regarding the possibility of Austin police officers - instead of registered nurses or otherwise medically qualified and trained personnel - collecting blood specimens from DWI suspects:

WHEREAS, the State of Texas allows peace officers to collect breath and blood specimens as evidence for prosecuting people suspected of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated through Texas Transportation Code §724.012, and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 18.01; and

Since there’s already an implied consent statute, and a law governing search warrants…

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A Not So Anonymous Tip

The 911 call:

Caller: Somebody's really drunk driving down Granton Road."

Dispatch: Okay are you behind them, or...

Caller: No, I am them.

Dispatch: You am them?

Caller: Yes, I am them.

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Sprung From Cages Out On Highway Nine

From the “Tramps Like Us” version of passed-out-while-intoxicated comes this “DWI” arrest out of New Jersey:

A Holmdel man was charged with driving while intoxicated after police found him lying on the grass near his parked car, police said today…

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Do Cops Get To Make Up New DWI Laws?

The Dallas Morning News Crime Blog ran a story recently about stepped up DWI enforcement for a holiday weekend:

The message: If you drink and drive during the Labor Day holiday, you will go to jail.

That's the word from local law enforcement and the Texas Department of Transportation which launched its anti-drunk driving campaign in the Dallas/Fort Worth area Friday morning…

"Drunk driving is a serious issue, and we intend to come down especially hard on drunk drivers during the two weeks leading up to Labor Day holiday," said North Richland Hills police Sgt. Neal Maranto. "If you are drinking and driving, you will be pulled over and you will be arrested.”

Two commenters immediately noticed the substitution of “drinking and driving” for “DWI”. (They are not the same thing.)

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The Last Thing You Need When You're In Trial

…is to check your iPhone during a break and realize that one of your so-called friends has snapped an unfavorable picture of you crossing a deputy and sent it out via email to everyone you know.

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DWI Dismissal Could Lead To Removal Of Ignition Interlock Device

Proving that the Wichita Falls Times Record News Online is just a little behind what most people would consider news, a few days ago they ran a story titled “First Offense May Require DWI Device”:

Repeat drinking and driving offenders in Texas know the hassle that comes with the advanced charges, but soon, first-time offenders, too, could face a tougher crack down.

Texas state legislation mandates that repeat offenders be ordered to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle as a condition of their bond.

However, that could change soon, as legislators are looking at amending the law, making the interlock a requirement on the first offense.

Actually, the legislative session is over, and I’m pretty sure House Bill 1110, which would have done just that, was left pending in committee, which is fancy legi-speak for “went nowhere”. I say “pretty sure” because Texas has some funky procedures regarding the Governor’s ability to call special sessions for certain issues, but I haven’t heard of one for this… yet. Not saying it couldn’t happen.

At any rate, I found this tidbit from the article amusing. Sometimes journalists like to rile their readers up, let ‘em know what sorts of outrageous consequences there could be if a bill doesn’t pass:

For some, the device is only a temporary inconvenience.

Being a condition of bond, the suspect could be allowed to have the device removed if the case is dismissed, or the terms of the conviction or probation don’t mandate its use.

That’s right folks! You get arrested, not convicted but just accused of DWI second in Texas, and you’re going to be required to put an interlock on your car. But as the law stands now… if the state dismisses your case (or, and the article doesn’t mention this, but hey, this is bad law too) if you are acquitted…

Under current law, you are no longer required to have the IID on your car. Imagine that. The horror. Better call your legislator and, well, tell them what? Rewind time and get this bill out of committee?