Tag Archives: criminal defense attorney

Young Carefree Texas Drivers May Face DWI Charges

A rite of passage for any teenager is getting a driver license. For many, another rite of passage is drinking alcohol. The two are a deadly mix. As most know, teens make up the highest risk of accidents amongst all groups of drivers. On top of that, Texas unfortunately leads the nation in the number of accidents related to driving while intoxicated (DWI), with about 2,000 each year.

In Texas and across America, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while driving is 0.08 percent. The legal drinking age is 21. Texas has a zero tolerance law for underage drinking. That means that a driver under the age of 21 with any detectable amount of alcohol has committed a violation. Young drivers account for many drug and alcohol related accidents because they reach higher alcohol levels more quickly than people with higher body weights and more experience digesting alcohol.

If a teenager (or anyone) is pulled over on suspicion of DWI and refuses to perform a breath or blood test, the driver license is usually immediately suspended for six months. The DWI penalties for teen drivers under the age of 21 can vary according to the amount of alcohol in their system, but the penalties generally are

  • 30 days suspension for a first offense
  • 60 days suspension for a second offense
  • 180 days suspension for a third offense

DWI convictions also carry a heavy financial penalty called a conviction-based surcharge. This is an ongoing additional fine that must be paid for three years and can be thousands of dollars. Teen drivers may also be ordered to attend alcohol awareness courses and perform community service.

Finally, teens need to be aware that they can face legal liability for their actions. Every driver in Texas owes a duty of safety to others on the road. A violator of this duty can be held legally accountable for his/her actions through a lawsuit.

Teens must be informed about the severe consequences of DWI. If your teen is facing punishment, it’s best to consult an experienced San Antonio DWI attorney to protect your teen’s rights.

Domestic Violence Legal Issues

Unfortunately, domestic violence (often referred to as family violence in Texas) is a common occurrence. Nearly 75 percent of all Texans have either experienced domestic violence themselves or know of a family member or friend who has. If you have been a victim of this crime, or know someone who has been, there is help available.

In Texas, domestic violence is defined as an assault by a person on a spouse, former spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or member of the same family or household. Victims of domestic violence should report the abuse to the police right away. If the situation is imminent, call 911.

Whether the perpetrator is arrested is up to the discretion of the police officers. The perpetrator can be arrested on either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the actions and the injuries. Once you report the incident, you are not allowed to change your mind and drop the charges on your own. It is the prosecutor’s decision whether to pursue criminal charges at that point.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, consider hiring an attorney to help you file for an order of protection. The prosecutor may ask the court to put an order of protection in place in cases of domestic violence. When a protective order is issued, the perpetrator is not allowed go near the victim or the victim’s home or workplace, threaten the victim, or possess a firearm. Once a protective order is in place, the victim cannot decide to remove it — only a court can modify a protective order.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, reach out and get help. Texas has many laws and resources to support you and keep you safe. A San Antonio family law attorney may also be able to advise you.

Prohibited Weapons in the Lone Star State

Texas is a state of big ideas, big politics and big weapons. If you are a Lone Star State resident and love weapons, you need to understand that certain weapons are prohibited. You can get into big trouble with the law if you fail to comply.

Under the Texas Prohibited Weapons law, it is illegal to knowingly possess, manufacture or sell:

  • An explosive weapon
  • A machine gun
  • A short-barrel firearm
  • A firearm silencer
  • A switchblade knife
  • Knuckles
  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • A chemical dispensing device
  • A zip gun

If you are found in possession of one of these weapons and are charged, you might have a defense if:

  • You were performing official duties of the armed forces, National Guard, governmental law enforcement agency or correctional facility
  • Your possession was pursuant to registration under the National Firearms Act
  • Your conduct was incidental to dealing with a switchblade, spring blade knife, or short-barrel firearm solely as an antique or curio
  • You were dealing with armor-piercing ammunition solely for the purpose of making ammunition available to the armed forces, National Guard, governmental law enforcement agency or correctional facility.

It is illegal to carry a firearm or prohibited weapon at the following places: schools, polling places, courts, racetracks, secured areas of airports, and within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility on the date of an execution.

Many people wrongly believe that if they forgot or didn’t intentionally carry the weapon in one of the prohibited places, their case should be dismissed. However, in Texas, the unintentional but reckless carrying of the weapon can be a violation.

You may apply for a license to carry. To obtain one you must be qualified to purchase a handgun under state and federal laws. You cannot have a felony conviction (or a misdemeanor conviction less than five years old), pending criminal charges, chemical or alcohol dependency, certain psychiatric diagnoses, restraining orders, or tax or child support defaults.

If you have questions about the legality of certain weapons, consult with a Texas criminal defense lawyer today.

How to Get Around with a Suspended License

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. We’re all familiar with that old adage. It applies to things we take for granted. Our driver license certainly falls into that category. Few of us remember that driving is a privilege, not a right.

If your driver license is suspended, the results can be devastating, especially in areas with no public transportation. Suddenly, you have no way to get to work, school, or church. If your license is suspended, it’s important that you pay all fines that have been assessed against you. If your suspension is the result of a conviction, you must also pay surcharges assessed by Department of Public Safety (DPS). These annual surcharges are typically paid every year for three years from the date of conviction. They can be quite hefty, often in excess of $1,000 to $2,000 every year.

If your license has been suspended, you may be able to apply for and obtain an occupational license, sometimes called an essential need license. This is a special type of restricted license that is issued to individuals whose driver license has been suspended, revoked, or denied for reasons other than delinquent child support.

An occupational license allows for the operation of a non-commercial vehicle to allow the driver to get to work, school-related activities, or to perform essential household duties. If you are interested in an occupational license, you must apply for one in the county where you reside or to the court of the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. There may be a waiting period based on the type of offense involved.

If you are able to obtain an occupational license, make sure you comply with the restrictions. While it may be tempting to do other errands and additional driving, don’t do it. You will only make matters worse if you get caught.

If your driver license has been suspended, consult with a DWI defense attorney to make sure you comply with all of the restrictions and to determine whether you may be eligible for an occupational license.

Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the blog of Joseph P. Appelt P.C. Our San Antonio, Texas office handles cases involving family law, criminal defense, DUI, wills and estates, and general civil matters. Since 1994, we have been providing clients with efficient and passionate legal representation.

Through this blog, our goal is to educate, inform and share important news and insights about our areas of practice. With our experience and skills, we are able to offer you practical advice to help you succeed in the legal process. The more you know about the law, the better prepared you can be to deal with the specifics of your case.

Along the way, we’ll also share more about our practice. And we hope to hear from you through your comments on our blog posts. At The Law Office of Joseph P. Appelt P.C. we believe in the power of communication and invite you to share your views.

Please check back on this blog for updates. And if you need assistance in San Antonio or Bexar County, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.