Arrested for DWI? Do This Immediately

It can happen to anyone. You’re out with your friends, have a few too many drinks, and try to drive home. Unfortunately, if you do so, you may be at risk for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense.

If you’ve been arrested for DWI in Texas, your license will be suspended unless you take action as soon as possible. Here are some tips to follow to help maintain your driving privileges:

  1. Hire an experienced DWI attorney immediately. You will automatically lose your license 40 days after your arrest if you don’t fight your DWI charge. Your lawyer knows how to fight this charge. If you can’t afford a lawyer, contact the Indigent Defense Office in your county and one may be appointed for you.
  2. If you refused to provide a blood or breath specimen, you must request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your arrest. At the hearing, a judge hears your case and decides if there is sufficient probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. Your lawyer can effectively question the arresting officer about why you were arrested. Even if you lose the ALR hearing, you gain invaluable information that helps your case later. If the judge determines that there is probable cause, your license will be suspended.
  3. If you missed the deadline to request an ALR hearing or if you provided a breath or blood sample and decide to fight the charges, your lawyer will begin discovery to review the police report, arrest records, and videos. If you refused a Breathalyzer, your lawyer may be able to show that, based on the video, you were not intoxicated. If the video shows that you are in control and there are not any other mitigating factors, you should consider taking your case to trial. If you appear impaired on the videotape, your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain for you.

If your license is suspended, your DWI defense attorney may be able to help you mitigate the damage, such as by helping you obtain an Occupational Driver License.

Parental Alienation

Does your ex-spouse pit your child against you? Does your ex-spouse speak negatively about you to your child? Are you constantly being denied visitation for no reason? These are signs of parental alienation and, if this is happening in your life, you need to take steps to combat it before it gets worse. A child needs both a mother and a father — don’t give up on your rights to see your child and fight for child custody and visitation even if your ex-spouse is trying to alienate you from your child.

Parental alienation is often prevalent in child custody disputes. It is usually defined by a campaign of denigration and hatred by one parent against the other parent.  Family law judges will recognize this as a factor in determining the outcome of a child custody dispute, so if it is happening to you, there are some options available to help you.  If custody has not yet been decided, make sure the judge knows what is happening.  Keep a diary and provide specific evidence.

Some other options include:

  • Request a child custody evaluation ― A psychiatrist could profile both parents and present findings to the court regarding the child’s ability to form a relationship with each parent.
  • Request mediation ― You can present the dispute to a mediator who can make suggestions and provide recommendations on what the parents can do to protect the child’s best interests. This process often works well because it is less confrontational than litigation.
  • Request a guardian ad litem ― This is a special attorney who watches out for your child’s best interests. A guardian ad litem can help work out conflicts and determine what is in the best interest of your child.
  • Create a new parenting plan ― If you already have a parenting plan in place and it is not protecting your rights, your attorney can help you create a new plan that includes specific protections for time with your child.

All parents have a right to a meaningful relationship with their child, so if you are being wrongfully excluded from your child’s life, consult with an experienced San Antonio child custody attorney to determine the best course of action to remain in your child’s life.

Commercial License DWI

Driving while intoxicated has severe consequences for any driver, but if you are a commercial driver, your livelihood is also on the line.  A commercial party bus driver in Illinois was recently charged with criminal and professional penalties for allegedly driving students to their prom while he was intoxicated.  And who can forget the limo driver who drove some Detroit Red Wings hockey players after they won the Stanley Cup?  The limo driver was intoxicated, and the crash left one player in a coma, one player unable to walk, and the limo driver in jail.

In Texas, if a commercial driver has a blood alcohol limit of 0.04 percent or higher, the driver is over the legal limit.  In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates commercial drivers.  FMCSA regulations state that any commercial driver operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher is considered to be driving under the influence.  Further, if you hold a commercial driver’s license and you either refuse a chemical test or you take one and have a BAC of 0.04 percent in a commercial vehicle or 0.08 percent in any other vehicle, your commercial license will be disqualified for one year.  If you drive a commercial vehicle with hazardous materials, the penalty is three years.

Under Texas law, if you have a commercial driver’s license and you are convicted of a DWI, in addition to the penalties you will receive under the DWI statute (such as fines, possible jail time and suspension of your regular driver’s license), you will also lose your commercial driver’s license for at least one year.  This is true regardless of whether you were driving a commercial or non-commercial vehicle at the time of your DWI arrest.  A second DWI conviction will result in the loss of your commercial driver’s license for life. However, you can apply for reinstatement after 10 years.

If you are a commercial driver, being unable to drive means being unable to work.  If you find yourself facing DWI charges, consultation with a tenacious San Antonio DWI attorney is critical to maintaining your livelihood.

Singles Estate Planning

A common misconception is that estate planning is only for married people and families.  That is simply not true and, because nearly 47 percent of the adult population is single, it’s more important than ever to consider estate planning for singles.

Making estate plans is vitally important if you are a single person, and your planning will differ in many ways from planning for married persons. Further, if you are a single baby boomer, your financial strategies will be different than those for younger single people.  Here are some planning tips for single persons:

  • Plan to leave your assets in a way that you want.  If you don’t make a plan, the state has a default plan for you that won’t be customized at all.  You might have certain family members that you want to receive your assets, but if you don’t plan for certain people to receive certain of your assets, it may not happen.  Those people or charities probably won’t receive your assets because the state’s default plan will not take into account your own personal preferences.
  • Plan for incapacity. A medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney make sure that your wishes are carried out during periods of incapacity.  These documents are very important for a single person because there is no spouse to make these decisions if you become incapacitated.  These documents allow you to appoint someone you trust to make these decisions for you.
  • Plan for retirement.  If you are nearing retirement age, try to remain employed as long as possible to increase retirement savings and Social Security benefits.  If you are younger, put aside as much money as you can each year into a 401k or other retirement savings vehicle.  People of all ages should also consider purchasing long-term care and disability insurance.

Calling an experienced San Antonio wills and estates attorney today will help get these plans in place so that you can coast into your golden years.

Can I Own a Firearm?

Currently, one of the most hotly debated subjects in the United States concerns gun control laws.  Particularly, many argue that certain individuals should be prohibited from owning firearms.  On the other side of the argument are those who invoke the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.  A number of state and federal laws have been passed governing the possession of firearms, leading some to ask, “Can I own a firearm?”

Federal law prohibits certain people from owning firearms, regardless of where they live, including:

  • Those convicted of a felony
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Those who are dependent on illegal drugs or alcohol
  • The mentally ill
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence

Texas laws tend to support the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.  Therefore, the State places very few restrictions on the ownership of a firearm outside of those restrictions required under federal law.  In essence, Texas does not apply any other restrictions on owning a firearm than are required by federal law.  It may well be said that if it is illegal for you to own a firearm in Texas, it is illegal for you to own a firearm anywhere in America.

You may have questions concerning your rights to own a firearm in Texas.  Also, you may have been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.  Whatever legal needs concerning firearms you may have, an experienced weapons defense attorney can help.  Being charged with the unlawful ownership of a firearm is a serious offense and your rights are likely on the line.  Your attorney can help establish your defense and protect your rights.

Getting a Mortgage After a Divorce

Divorce is a scary and complicated time, and maintaining a roof over your head is likely one of your primary concerns.  While obtaining a mortgage after a divorce may be a little more difficult than you may think (especially in today’s challenging economic climate), it’s not impossible.

Banks have strict underwriting requirements that must be complied with before they lend money. The lender will look at the source of your money for a down payment and your debt ratios. The lender will also look at the following to determine if you are credit-worthy:

  • Whether you have other financial obligations, such as child support or alimony.  This will probably reduce your borrowing ability.
  • Whether you receive other financial support, such as child support or alimony. This financial support can be used to qualify for the mortgage, so long as there is a six-month history and the income is set to continue for the next three years pursuant to your settlement agreement or divorce decree.
  • Whether you are on the mortgage of the marital property with your ex-spouse and you make payments on that mortgage from a joint bank account. If so, your borrowing ability may be reduced even if the divorce decree awarded your ex-spouse that property. However, if you can show that your ex-spouse has solely made the mortgage payments on that home over the past 12 months, the new lender may not take this mortgage payment on your former home into account.  Another solution is to have your ex-spouse refinance you off of the mortgage.  You could then show those refinancing papers to your new potential lender to prove that you have no further obligation on your former marital property.
  • Whether you have joint credit card debt, auto loans or student loans with your former spouse. If so, those obligations will negatively affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage unless you can prove that your ex-spouse is solely responsible for the obligation.

The good news is that most borrowers today will be able to obtain a mortgage even after a divorce, with a little help.  Your San Antonio divorce attorney can help you avoid most of these negative effects by drafting a careful and clearly worded marital settlement agreement regarding which debt belongs to which spouse to help you start anew.

Top Drug Crime Defenses

Drug offenses can be very serious charges, and they carry stiff punishment under both Texas and federal law. However, there are also a number of defenses available for drug charges, and the success of the government’s case in large part depends on how the evidence was obtained.

Here are a few of the defenses available:

Illegal search

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures and provides that a warrant shall not issue unless the police have probable cause. This basically means that the officer needs to have a valid reason to conduct the search and the warrant needs to specifically describe the place to be searched, the person involved and item to be seized.  If it doesn’t, the search may be illegal.  If a court rules that the search is illegal, any evidence that the police obtained through the search will be suppressed (not be allowed in court to prove the defendant’s guilt).

Invalid search warrant

Even if the police obtained a search warrant, that doesn’t mean that it is valid. In order to obtain a warrant, an officer needs to present a sworn affidavit to a judge and request a finding that there is probable cause to search this particular location for specific evidence. If the affidavit contains incorrect information, information from unknown individuals or informants, or if the descriptions of the search location or items are unclear, the search warrant can be challenged.

Errors in laboratory testing

The government has a very specific burden to present testimony from everyone who touched, processed or tested the drug evidence. If one link in this chain of custody is missing, the evidence will not be admissible in court.  Further, the testing procedures at many labs can be challenged.  If the court agrees that there is doubt as to whether the government properly handled the drugs, the charges can be dismissed.


This occurs when a government agent uses threats, fraud or some other type of undue influence to induce a defendant to commit a crime.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, consultation with an experienced San Antonio drug offense attorney will be invaluable to determine if any of these defenses are available to you to get the charges dismissed.

Texas is Among Top States for Identity Theft

According to a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission, Texas is one of the top states in the country for identity theft. This crime is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, and Texas ranks seventh in the nation in cases of identity theft per capita.

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of fraud in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.  One popular scam in Texas is a Medicare scam.  The victims usually receive a phone call from a person posing as a Medicare official claiming that the current Medicare cards are being phased out and that replacement cards must be obtained in order for the person to keep receiving benefits. To obtain a new card, the seniors are told that they need to confirm their Medicare number (which is identical to their Social Security number) and bank account number. The thief then has access to this valuable information.

The Texas identity theft statute provides that a person commits the offense of identity theft when he knowingly obtains the personal identifying information of another without the consent of that person with the intent to harm or defraud that person. Personal identifying information includes many types of information, such as:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Drivers’ license numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Passport numbers
  • Employer or tax identification numbers
  • Fingerprints, voice prints or iris image
  • Passwords
  • Telecommunication identifying information or access device

If you have committed identity theft in Texas, you may face some serious punishment, as this offense is a state jail felony. The court may also order you to make restitution to the victim of the offense for lost income or certain other expenses.

If you have been charged with identity theft, it’s important that you contact a reputable San Antonio criminal defense attorney with experience in defending theft charges to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

Boating DWI (BWI) in Texas

Often, a day on the lake includes food and a cold beer or other form of alcohol.  While this is perfectly legal, it is important to keep in mind that most Texas DWI laws are in force when operating a motorized watercraft.  However, because the watercraft must be motorized, this excludes canoes, kayaks and other paddle boats operated by human force.

Unlike in the operation of an automobile, it is legal to consume alcohol while operating a watercraft.  However, if doing so causes you to have a blood alcohol level above 0.08, you may be arrested for a BWI.  Also, unlike in a DWI, a police officer does not have to have probable cause to stop you while operating a boat.  On the road, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, such as for speeding or swerving.  But on the water, an officer may stop you at any time to check for an operator’s license or life jackets, regardless of the way you are operating the boat.  In the process, an officer may sense that you are impaired and may ask you to perform a field sobriety test.  A field sobriety test following a long day on the lake may present all sorts of problems for you as a driver, even when you are not impaired.  These include weak legs from waterskiing, bloodshot eyes from the water, red skin from the sun and more.

The penalties attached to a BWI in Texas are the same as for a DWI.  They include:

  • 1st conviction: A fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days
  • 2nd conviction: A fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to one year
  • 3rd conviction: A fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time up to two to 10 years

Furthermore, a BWI conviction can act as a first conviction for a subsequent DWI, making your first DWI a second conviction.

Being charged with BWI is a serious offense.  If you have been charged with BWI in Texas, it is important that you contact an experienced BWI defense attorney who can defend your case and help protect your rights.

A Football Player, a Ring and a Broken Engagement

In a recent lawsuit filed in Harris County, Texas, Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams sued his ex-fiancée, demanding that she return a $785,000 diamond engagement ring. Williams alleged that Erin Marzouki broke off the engagement last January and never had any intention of marrying him. Williams accused Marzouki of absconding with the ring.

Marzouki filed a counter-suit, denying the allegations and accusing Williams of having numerous instances of cold feet and ultimately breaking off the engagement himself. Marzouki alleges that Williams made it clear in writing that he wanted her to keep the ring after their last of many breakups in December. According to her, Williams communicated his wishes in text messages to her father and brother.

This raises the question:  When the engagement is broken, who gets the ring?

Texas courts will usually consider an engagement ring to be a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage.  This means that unless the future event occurs, the gift isn’t final.  If the event (the marriage) doesn’t happen, the gift must be returned. This rule is founded upon the principle that if the person that accepted the engagement ring is the one who breaks the engagement off, then the ring should be returned because the gift was never completed.

However, a court may also look at whose fault it is that the marriage was called off.  Sometimes, a court will rule that if the ring giver had a change of heart, the recipient should be allowed to keep the ring. The issue of who broke off the engagement seems to be a big question in the Williams/Marzouki engagement, so how the court will ultimately rule may turn upon this fact.

Only time will tell if diamonds really are this girl’s best friend.  However, if you are either seeking to keep an engagement ring or get one back due to a botched engagement, working with a knowledgeable San Antonio family law attorney will help you obtain relief you desire.