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Miracles Do Happen: Clearing Our Client’s Background

Miracle, Geoffrey Reynolds LawyerGoing above & beyond! So proud of Coffey Firm attorney Geoffrey Reynolds who proved that miracles do happen! Years ago a law enforcement government employee accidentally inverted a digit and made it look like our client had a prior DWI that belonged to someone else. We were told it would take an expunction (fees & a legal process) to clear this up when it was not our client’s fault. Geoff spent 6 months working on this, fighting law enforcement (multiple law enforcement divisions refused to call him back) and was finally successful in fixing this grave error at no cost to our client. Now all criminal records are accurate and our teacher client will no longer be denied jobs for a DWI she never had.

A little background:

When we were nearing the end of this client’s case, the District Attorney started talking about a prior DWI from a different county. Our client told us that she had never even been to the county of the alleged conviction! After investigating a bit, we discovered that DPS incorrectly placed this prior DWI on our client’s DPS criminal background. Not only that, the background associated 2006 conviction to a 1994 arrest from our client’s actual county of residence. Digging even deeper, we discovered that this conviction belonged to someone with an who’s ID had one different digit. This means that some law enforcement agency screwed up our client’s background by putting the wrong digit.

We eventually cleared up that confusion on our client’s case, but then faced the task of fixing our client’s background. Geoff started working by contacting the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office to talk to their expunction department. Geoff was not able to reach the DA in charge of that department, but spoke with her assistant. They directed him to contact the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department’s error resolution section, who never returned his calls despite multiple voice messages. Eventually, he contacted the DPS error resolution department itself, who still took their sweet time in responding. After a few months of work, DPS finally contacted our office and told us that they cleared our client’s background. This happened without our client needing to pay any filing fees and without needing any court involvement.

Miracles Really Do Happen!

Marijuana Possession in Fort Worth

Though not a perfect (or long-term) solution, the Fort Worth Police Department has a new policy regarding marijuana possession. If police catch a person possessing a small amount of marijuana (usually under 4 ounces), they will confiscate it but not make an arrest or issue a citation. At least, this is the case in Fort Worth. Other police agencies within Tarrant County do not share this policy and still make marijuana arrests. This means it is up to the District Attorney on whether the prosecute a marijuana possession case from one of these other Tarrant County Police Departments. This is why Fort Worth PD’s solution for marijuana possession charges is not ideal. Mimi is a criminal defense lawyer in Tarrant County and has a reputation as a fighter. She will fight for the best possible solution, especially due to the problem with testing a confiscated substance.

This problem isn’t just focused on Tarrant County, though. There is a reverse situation in Dallas County. There, the DA has a policy of not prosecuting (most) small marijuana possession charges, but Dallas PD still makes arrests and puts people in jail. Not to be overly political, but it seems the ideal solution for this disconnect regarding marijuana possession is to for the State Legislators to step in. If we have a state-wide decriminalization of small marijuana possession, then perhaps it would solve this disconnect while also preventing a backlog of possession cases in the misdemeanor courts.

Why decriminalize small marijuana possession?

Decriminalizing small marijuana possession seems to make sense because there is an issue with testing. Texas recently decriminalized most Hemp and CBD products. Because of this, the State now has a problem in determining the chemical makeup of confiscated substances. There are no labs that have an official way of determining whether a confiscated substance is CBD or marijuana. If the labs cannot differentiate, how would a Prosecutor know whether they are dealing with a legal substance or marijuana? This is a legal issue, because Prosecutors might allege criminal possession when the substance, in fact, was completely legal.

Mimi Coffey appeared on NBC 5 news to provide the perspective of a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth. She stated that prosecutors have no way to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. The full NBC 5 story can be found at https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/fort-worth-police-stop-enforcing-most-marijuana-laws-amid-questions-about-testing/2488259/. Mimi has appeared on many local and national news stations to discuss the perspective of a criminal defense lawyer in Tarrant county.

Texas DWI & UCW Charges: “I got a DWI and They Took My Gun!”

“Geez, I got a DWI and on top of all that, they took my gun!” Getting a DWI is stressful. However, the police confiscating your gun after the DWI arrest is even more stressful! We, at the Coffey Firm, understand that most people who get a Texas DWI and UCW did not intentionally go out and plan on getting a DWI while carrying a gun in their vehicle. Many people form a personal attachment to their gun. It may be a family relic, have sentimental value, or it could be an expensive valuable.

Regardless, we understand the frustration of having to fight two charges at once. We understand that you do not want a Texas DWI and UCW (unlawfully carrying a weapon) conviction. The Coffey Firm will do the best we can in defending you. We will walk you through all the evidence, Texas gun forfeiture laws & Texas DWI law, and options. We combine this with an in depth understanding of your facts, circumstances, life pressures and priorities.

Some helpful information when facing Texas DWI and Texas UCW include:

  1. Understand that the law makes it illegal to carry a gun after a DWI conviction.
  2. Your gun case is a separate case from your DWI.
  3. There are many options and legal considerations for getting your gun back.

We will discuss the objectives of your gun with you. This means its return, its forfeiture in exchange for various plea options if relevant, and more. We will do the best we can to help you achieve your goal.

What are the Texas Gun Forfeiture Laws?

The law on gun forfeiture and return on a Texas UCW (Texas Penal Code 46.02) is governed by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 18.19. What is most often relevant is (d):

(d)  A person either convicted or receiving deferred adjudication under Chapter 46, Penal Code, is entitled to the weapon seized upon request to the court in which the person was convicted or placed on deferred adjudication. However, the court entering the judgment shall order the weapon destroyed, sold at public sale by the law enforcement agency holding the weapon or by an auctioneer licensed under Chapter 1802, Occupations Code, or forfeited to the state for use by the law enforcement agency holding the weapon or by a county forensic laboratory designated by the court if:

(1) the person does not request the weapon before the 61st day after the date of the judgment of conviction or the order placing the person on deferred adjudication;
(2) the person has been previously convicted under Chapter 46, Penal Code;
(3) the weapon is one defined as a prohibited weapon under Chapter 46, Penal Code;
(4) the offense for which the person is convicted or receives deferred adjudication was committed in or on the premises of a playground, school, video arcade facility, or youth center, as those terms are defined by Section 481.134, Health and Safety Code; or
(5) the court determines based on the prior criminal history of the defendant or based on the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offense that possession of the seized weapon would pose a threat to the community or one or more individuals.

Please do not lose hope.

Remember, your gun case is just one part of the Texas DWI picture. Without a Texas DWI conviction (unless there are other legal reasons), your gun possession is legal. However, even with a DWI conviction, your chances of getting your gun back are largely in part up to you. But do not worry, we will carefully go over these options and choices and look forward to helping you.

 

Helpful Things to Know About Being a Coffey Firm Client

Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, Texas DWIThe A+ Goals of The Coffey Firm

  1. Access.

Mimi responds to texts, emails and phone calls directly (her voice mail does ask that a text be sent for faster response, text “call me!”). Most of the Coffey Firm DWI attorneys also readily give out their cell phones. If you can’t reach them, just text Mimi. Every Coffey Firm attorney believes that availability to clients is one of the most important parts of the legal profession.

2. Anxiety.

We understand that this is a very stressful and scary time. The Coffey Firm is here to serve you. This means we know that sometimes you may ask questions which you feel are bothersome. No such thing! We may do it every day, but you do not. Please call or communicate with us. There is no such thing as a stupid question or calling too much. We may not always have the answers, but our job is to listen and help you through the process as much as possible. If you are not feeling some measure of security or access to questions, we are not doing it right! Communication and access are The Coffey Firm’s top priorities, outside of doing the best we can for your case.

3. Answers.

The most important thing to know about the Coffey Firm is that we care about you. We cannot give guarantees, as doing so would be dishonest and disingenuous. No one wants a false promise, or to be led by false hope. Mimi has practiced for over 25 years and has handled over 5,000 cases. She understands that an outcome depends on many factors. What we do promise to do is the best we can. In your case evaluation, she will listen intently, explore the possibilities available and advise you of your options with her professional analysis. Further, her board certification in DWI and over 300 jury trials gives her a solid foundation to strategize wisely. One of The Coffey Firm’s key goals to your situation is to get you back to your healthy normal (life before the arrest) as soon as possible.

Police Encounters: “Voluntary Encounters” – Where the Law and Common Sense Diverge

There is nothing “voluntary” about shining a bright flashlight in a person’s face. Nor is there anything “voluntary” about having an officer bombard them with question after question. Yet police, and district attorneys regularly claim that “voluntary encounters” occurred just because the officer never activated his overhead lights. On other occasions they claim “voluntary encounter” simply because a motorist rolled down his window when he saw the police approach his vehicle with a flashlight in an empty parking lot.

Is every police encounter a “stop”? What is legally required?

Distinguishing what is a legal “voluntary encounter” in a motion to suppress is critical because it can make the difference between a justified stop and one that is thrown out of court for violation of constitutionally protected rights. The idea of a “voluntary encounter” occurs when a citizen decides to approach a police officer. For example, this may be to ask for the time, directions or inquire about a traffic stop ahead. However, if during the course of the encounter the police form a reasonable suspicion that a crime may be occurring, they may prolong the interaction into a legal detention for investigation.

Reasonable suspicion exists when an objective person, given the relevant facts and circumstances of a particular situation, would believe that person engaged in behavior that is against the law. Or, in simpler terms, when a police officer points to specific reasons why they believed you were a threat or committed a crime. Examples of reasonable suspicion include: speeding, single- or multi-car accidents, hitting (but NOT bumping) a curb, stopping past a stop sign/light, and more. The arrest happens once and if there is probable cause.

Here is one Texas DWI example to illustrate this concept:

Now imagine a scenario with a legally parked citizen, alone and minding their own business, in an empty parking lot. An officer approaches the citizen’s vehicle, unprovoked, and taps on the driver side window. Should the motorist ignore the officer or engage? Most people would respond to a police officer tapping on their window. Prosecutors routinely argue that this constitutes a “voluntary encounter” to justify a criminal investigation that resulted from the encounter. Now think about what would have happened if you just ignored the officer tapping on the window.

The uniform and badge itself is a show of authority in the eyes of most people. It is not rationale to drive away when a police officer is on foot approaching a vehicle, with flashlight in hand, whether or not the officer has his or her squad car lights on. This is a prime and often abused area of law where the common sense of people diverge from the twisted legal fictions many courts come up with to back a police officer up on their illegal stop. Mimi has spent over 25 years fighting motions to suppress in court to not just protect the individual client when these abuses occur, but preserve liberty for all Texas citizens.

In what world is having officers surround and shine lights in a person’s car a “voluntary encounter”? It is not. The law in Texas is up to judges and juries. Mimi continually fights such preposterous ransacking of our rights.

What are “voluntary encounters“?

It is the opposite of a “seizure” or “detention,” to be technical. In simpler terms, a “voluntary encounter” means a citizen is free to leave or otherwise ignore the officer. A “voluntary encounter” doesn’t trigger the 4th Amendment, meaning police don’t need reasonable suspicion to detain a person.

In practice; however, it gives the police an easy “out” if their sole, subjective intention is to discover some sort of crime. In other words, police like to use “voluntary encounters” to gather enough facts to support reasonable suspicion. For example, after the “voluntary” encounter, the officer might claim he or she smelled alcohol, thereby miraculously laying the groundwork for the reasonable suspicion detention aimed for.

Community Caretaking

Related to “voluntary” encounters, police also like to assert their “community caretaking” power. In technical terms, the police have the power to engage someone if that person reasonably appears to be in distress. While “distress” can indicate a medical emergency, it also applies to situations like distraught motorists. In simpler terms, it means that the police don’t need reasonable suspicion of a crime to approach an individual as long as the person reasonably appears to need help.

Courts look at 4 factors when determining the propriety of community caretaking:

  1. The nature and level of the distress exhibited by the individual;
  2. The location of the individual;
  3. Whether the person had access to help independent of that offered by the officer;  and
  4. To what extent the individual, if not assisted, presented a danger to himself or others.

What does this mean in simple terms?

In simpler terms, police must show why they believe the person needs help, where the person is, whether other people could provide help, and whether that person might be in danger or their situation harm others. None of the factors, alone, are enough, but when taken together they might collectively justify a community caretaking stop. That said, the first factor is still the heaviest factor.

Sounds reasonable, right? Well, just like with “voluntary” encounters, it makes sense on paper but, in practice, it can give police officers another way to initiate a criminal investigation without your 4th Amendment protections. The main thing to remember about community caretaking is that once the police determines that the person does not need help, they can no longer assert community caretaking. This means that if the police approach someone and the person does not appear to need help, they can’t prolong the encounter unless they have reasonable suspicion.

Police will try to claim both Community Caretaking and “Voluntary” Encounters

Be aware, in some situations may try to claim a “voluntary” encounter when their “community caretaking” claim fails.

When facing a traffic stop, it is important for people to know their rights. Those stopped should always be polite with police rather than argumentative. They must provide their driver’s license, insurance and registration. Further, a person must exit the vehicle upon request.  It is OUR job to attack the stop as improper or invalid in these type of situations. It is OUR job to defend our clients and protect their constitutional rights.

Texas DWI, Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer

As Founding Father Patrick Henry said: “When your very existence is at stake, are you to speak the technical language of books, and to be confined to the limited rules of technical criticism? To those tricks and quirks–those little twists and twirls of low chicanery and sophistry, which are so beneficial to professional men?” The law was not meant to be created to deprive people of their liberties. Mimi believes in the power and common sense of people, just as Patrick Henry did.

A Texas DWI charge does not mean a person has no rights. Count on Mimi to fight to protect us all.

Mimi Coffey is Board Certified in DWI by the National College of DUI Defense. She is also the author of Texas DWI Defense: The Law and Practice.

About Mimi

Mimi is listed on several “best” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant CountyDWI Lawyer Dallas County, DWI Lawyer Collin County, DWI Lawyer in Johnson County and DWI Lawyer Parker County. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW. She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.

North Texas Specialty Courts & other Specialty Courts: Veterans Court, First Responders Court, DWI courts, Drug Courts, Diversion Courts

For certain categories of people (Veterans, first responders, alcoholics) some charges may fall into a special category that affords special options that are not normally available to most citizens accused of a DWI. There are definite benefits to these courts for some people. For example, a DWI court may treat a probationer much different than on normal probation. This can be good and bad depending on the factors. There are definite reasons why a person should or should not go into a DWI court, as well as all the other specialty courts. Mimi will go over your case with you to help determine if a specialty court meets your needs.

The legislature has allotted funds for special courts for certain classifications of people. Due to the state funding, strict adherence to the program’s rules must be followed in terms of who qualifies for admission into these courts. We will go over these specialty courts with clients: what factors can influence their acceptance or rejection, as well as the requirements and reasons one may or may not choose to go into these specialty programs. For example, we have many Veterans who choose options that don’t involve Veterans Court, even if Veterans Court might be the better option in general. In other words, sometimes a specialty court might not suit a particular person’s needs. One should never consider any of these courts until it is established that the State can prove their case. Mimi Coffey conducts a full case evaluation first!

Types of Specialty Courts

There are some upsides to participating in one of the programs to make the program worthwhile, including a dismissal and sealing of the charge for some of these courts, not all. That said, each program has strict eligibility requirements and tends to be very selective. Just because a person might be eligible doesn’t mean the program will accept them. This is especially true depending on the results of a mental health or substance abuse evaluation. We help and guide clients through the whole process.

Here is one important point to remember: Not every county offers these programs.

Veterans CourtTexas DWI, Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, Veterans Court

As the name implies, only Veterans or current military members are eligible for this program. Generally, the program further limits eligibility to those who have a brain injury or mental disorder (e.g., PTSD) if it arose during military service and impacted the conduct at issue in the case. However, the program has the discretion to allow Veterans without those issues if participation in the program will achieve the objective of public safety through rehabilitation.

Each county will handle Vet’s Court in their own way. But, the main objective of the program is to achieve public safety. To that end, the program may last between 11 to 24 months depending on the underlying criminal charge. Each member is closely supervised and must report their progress in court. In most cases, upon successfully completing the program, the underlying criminal charge is dismissed and expunged. In other words, Vet’s Court is a “pretrial diversion” program.

*Please note, for Collin County cases for example, there is NO legal benefit. The case does NOT result in a dismissal. We will go over all the pros and cons with clients in making this important decision.

Mental Health Court Programs

Similar to Vet’s Court, this program is limited to those with brain injury or mental disorder. Unlike Vet’s Court, this program is designed for the general public, though the programs themselves are mostly the same. The program can last between roughly 9 months to 2 years and requires extensive mental health and substance abuse supervision. Like Vet’s Court, upon successfully completing the program, the underlying conviction may be dismissed and possibly become eligible for expunction.

Drug Court Programs

This is a very broad “program” because it splits off into various different courts. Some programs focus on controlled substances, others focus on first-time drug offenders (of varying degrees), and some focus squarely on alcohol abuse and DWIs. That said, the main purpose of the Drug Court programs is to place subjects in what is essentially court-supervised rehab. Subjects must provide clean urine (and in some cases hair or other form of) test throughout the program. The program length can vary depending on the County’s rules for their drug courts, and depending on the individual program. Some programs dismiss the underlying charge and some will allow eligibility for nondisclosure (but not expunction). If the underlying charge is a DWI, however, it is NOT eligible for nondisclosure under a Drug Court Program.

Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP)

One example, in Tarrant County, of a Drug Court program is FAIP. This Tarrant County DWI program typically deals with high-risk repeat DWI offenders, which means felony DWI offenses. A DWI becomes a felony when it is a person’s 3rd or more DWI. In other words, the first two DWIs are misdemeanors. Anything after that is a felony. There is also an additional “step” called habitual offenders, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

This program is basically an intense treatment program that lasts for 4 years. The primary benefit to this program is that participants avoid prison. The downside is that you will go through a structured program that includes a 6-month or 1-year “hard” suspension (meaning no driving whatsoever), intensive supervision and monitoring, and weekly compliance hearings. Mimi ALWAYS recommends that our clients have a full case evaluation before making a final decision on whether FAIP suits their needs.

Public Safety Employees Treatment Court Program (“First Responders Court”)Texas DWI, Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, First Responders Court

Like many of the other programs above, First Responders Court serves as an alternative to a straight conviction or probation. The statute defines a “public safety employee” as a peace officer, firefighter, detention officer, county jailer, or emergency medical services employee of the state. This can include probation officers, nurses, and others depending on employment. After successful completion of the program, the court will dismiss the underlying charge. The statute does not mention an expunction or nondisclosure, but some Counties will also do one or the other for graduates of the program.

Other Specialty Courts

  • Commercially Sexually Exploited Persons Court Program (“Prostitution Court“)
  • Youthful Offenders Diversion
  • First Offender Drug Program
  • Domestic Violence Diversion
  • Deferred Prosecution Program

*Know that this is partial listing. It is our job to know which courts or programs clients may benefit from. We discuss all this and more once we fully evaluate their case. Our mission is to get clients the best possible result.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are Junk Science!

Mimi Coffey is a Texas DWI lawyer who fights! She not only fights in the courtroom, for decades she has been waging a war on the junk science, known as DWI standardized field sobriety tests, used to wrongly convict people. She is recognized nationwide for her efforts. Mimi knows that police use this junk science to justify their DWI arrests, and wants to help you fight back. To find the best way to fight back, Mimi conducts a full case evaluation. During this evaluation, Mimi will get to know you and your story before going over all the evidence with you to discuss the strongest points of your case.

DWI Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are the “tests” that police officers use when investigating someone for a DWI. These tests were developed by a psychologist under federal grant funding, Dr. Marcelline Burns. She admits that the tests have no correlation with one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.  The underlying studies have received much criticism due to the lack of adherence to scientific peer review protocols. Dr. Spurgeon Cole conducted landmark research that exposed the deficiencies of these tests for determining alcohol intoxication Unfortunately, police falsely convict a large number of people due to these tests. The three standard tests are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), also known as the “eye test”;
  • Walk-and-turn (W&T), sometimes called the “walk in a line” test; and
  • One Leg Stand (OLS)

SFST “Validation” Studies

The SFSTs are not validated on driving ability. Mimi wrote a thoroughly researched paper on the deficiencies of the field sobriety tests.  It was published for lawyers nationwide in The Champion (link for lawyers). The Wisconsin Court of Appeals referenced Mimi’s paper in one of their decisions, holding that SFST evidence is admissible as relevant, but can be attacked for reliability. Other lawyers across the country have referenced this work. It succinctly tears apart the problems with the tests in terms of lack of science. The SFST course for officers (the police DWI manual) focuses on the proper administration of these tests. The issue is that these tests lack the foundation necessary to be used in the manner of which they are being used for arrest decisions and testimony for convictions in court. The responsibility lies with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Most unfortunately, the science has been sacrificed for the politics of law enforcement. A goal to lessen DWI deaths must not sacrifice truth and science. The marriage of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and NHTSA is dangerous to the integrity of the judicial process. Politics must never trump science. In addition to Dr. Spurgeon Cole’s study, there are others that address the serious deficiencies of a police driven agenda when it comes to science. Dr. Steven Rubenzer has also written critically about its shortcoming.

Mimi’s article is the most comprehensive in addressing the foundational deficiencies of these tests.  Some brief introductory key points regarding the NHTSA studies are:

1977 SFST Validation Study

The biggest issue with this study is that, aside from being the first major study (and thus “setting the bar” for the other studies), researchers conducted the tests in a controlled environment rather than in actual practice. In other words, researchers conducted the tests in a “laboratory”, rather than on roadside after a traffic stop. The study claims that in actual practice officers would decide to release, rather than arrest, if the officer was uncertain, but since this is the first major test, the researchers did not provide a basis for this statement.

Other problems involved subjects arriving already under the influence, which was ignored by the researchers despite the instructions for the experiment, and the sheer number of tests performed, since the three-test battery had not yet been completely “validated” at the time.

1981 Study

This is the study that “validated” and “standardized” the three-test battery of HGN, W&T, and OLS. One problem is that the researchers did not test subjects for other drugs, despite the researchers wanting to limit the study to only alcohol impairment. This casts a shadow over the study because there was no way to determine if other substances affected the observations.

1983 Study

This study is particularly problematic because took only three months to perform and researchers could not monitor all police data collection. In other words, the researchers merely compiled the limited date they received (but did not monitor). Another major problem is that all but one of the agencies analyzed equipped officers with PBTs (portable breathalyzers, basically). The mere presence of PBTs interferes with the researcher’s stated purpose of only using the SFSTs to make arrest decisions. The study even says that some arrest decisions could be based on the PBTs! Furthermore, since this study involved real drivers subject to actual arrest, police already suspected many subjects of DWI before the officer conducted the SFSTs (based on driving behavior, for example). Officers incorrectly classified and falsely arrested at least 16% (~197) of drivers.

Colorado Study

This study differs from the earlier studies in that the study included weather conditions and that the study was based on Colorado’s lower .05 limit. Researchers only observed 41% of investigations. But, the observers were all associated with law enforcement in some way. In other words, not only were less than half of the investigations observed, the observed investigations did not have “neutral” observers! Because this study focused on the .05 BAC limit, it did not (and should not) validate any tests used to determine BACs of .08 or above.

San Diego Study

This study found HGN to be the most effective test and that the addition of the W&T and OLS did not raise the probability of determining BAC significantly. The study also says that HGN lacks “face validity” because it has no link to driving. In addition, the study admits that officers cannot accurately measure “complex human performance” such as driving skills  at roadside. Finally, the study states that the link between BAC and driving is a separate issue.

An additional issue is that this study involved officers with significant SFST experience, which means that it did not determine whether a fairly new officer would make correct arrest decisions.

Florida Study

The flaw in this study is, out of the 379 subjects, only 256 made it to the final report. Even then, no observation existed for about 38% of the 379 tests performed. The test is also interesting because it shows that failure to arrest impaired drivers included subjects who passed the W&T and OLS but displayed 4 clues on HGN.

Texas DWI, Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, SFSTsFalse positives based on Junk Science

Back in 1997, when the legal limit was .10 instead of .08, Dr. James Booker, a Ph.D in Chemistry, calculated how many people failed the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests even when below the legal limit. This study, as seen in the image above, analyzed 80 tests. 45 of the tests showed BAC of .15 or more, and 35 showed between .00 and .149. Of those 35, 20 of the tests showed BAC of above .10, and 15 tests showed below the legal limit. In each of the 35 tests between .00 and .149, officers made arrests based on reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause of alcohol impairment. The offices made incorrect arrests in 15 case, which is 43%! That means that officers can make incorrect arrest decisions almost half of the time based on these standardized field sobriety tests!

 

  • Mimi Coffey is Board Certified in DWI by the NCDD. She is a fighter for all.  For those looking for a “DWI lawyer near me”, know that she handles most all of North Texas*. Courts in the city of arrest do no handle DWIs. County courts handle DWI cases. She has been practicing law in north Texas for 25 years.  She is well known as a top criminal lawyer for DWI in particular.
  • *DWI lawyer Ft. Worth, DWI lawyer Dallas, DWI lawyer Arlington, DWI lawyer Weatherford, DWI lawyer McKinney, DWI lawyer Plano, DWI lawyer North Richland Hills, DWI lawyer Grapevine, DWI lawyer Southlake, DWI lawyer Euless, DWI lawyer Bedford, DWI lawyer Grand Prairie, DWI lawyer Azle, DWI lawyer Mansfield, DWI lawyer Frisco, DWI lawyer Allen, DWI lawyer Burleson, DWI lawyer Cleburne, DWI lawyer Decatur, DWI lawyer Rhome, DWI lawyer Denton, DWI lawyer Argyle. . .   Please note this is a partial listing. Mimi handles cases of out of the following counties: Tarrant, Parker, Johnson, Wise, Dallas, Denton, Colllin, Ellis, Kaufman, Hood

Texas DWI Superfine

As of September 2019, the “surcharge” program by Texas DPS no longer exists. While that may sound good, it has been replaced by a Texas DWI “superfine”. Put another way, the “surcharge” for DWI convictions still exists, while the “points” system for things like tickets is history. Let’s take a quick look at what is new, and what is not (at least in terms of DWI).

Surcharge v. Superfine

Old System – Surcharge

The surcharge system issued a fine based on either “points” or convictions. Regardless, putting “points” on a person’s license only happens after a conviction. The old system said that a “conviction” is a “final conviction” regardless of whether the conviction resulted in jail time or probation. In terms of the surcharge for a Texas DWI conviction, the old system said this:

  • Each year the department shall assess a surcharge on the license of each person who, during the preceding 36-month period, has been finally convicted of [a DWI offense]
  • The amount of the surcharge . . . is $1,000 per year, except the surcharge is:
    • $1,500 per year for a second or subsequent conviction within 36 months; and
    • $2,000 for a first or subsequent conviction if it is shown [that the persons BAC] was .16 or more at the time of analysis.
  • A surcharge under this section for the same conviction may not be assessed in more than three years.

New System – Texas DWI Superfine

Unlike the old statute, the new superfine system does not clarify what “finally convicted” means. Most attorneys agree that a “final conviction” means only jail time, but courts issue the superfine even when placing a person on probation. The superfine system also allows the court to waive the superfine for indigent persons (and explains what documentation can be used as proof).

The DWI “superfine” is as follows:

  • $3,000 for the first conviction within a 36-month period;
  • $4,500 for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36-month period; and
  • $6,000 for a first or subsequent if it is shown on the trial of the offense that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of .15 or more at the time of analysis.

Doing the math, the superfine is EXACTLY THE SAME as the old surcharge, just worded differently (and lowering the larger fine to .15 instead of .16 BAC).

Fighting back against Surcharges

Back when the surcharge program still existed, Mimi Coffey fought tooth-and-nail against the system as being unconstitutional. She even went so far as to sue Texas DPS in Federal court claiming the surcharge system was a violation of double jeopardy and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, the Federal Court threw the case out. However, this did not stop Mimi from continuing to fight. Mimi even spoke in front of the Texas Legislature, asking them to repeal the surcharge system.

Mimi is listed on several “best” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant CountyDWI Lawyer Dallas County, DWI Lawyer Collin County, DWI Lawyer in Johnson County and DWI Lawyer Parker County. She is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW. She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.

Understanding Blood Draw Requirements in DWIs

Texas DWI, Blood Draw, Mimi Coffey DWI LawyerNobody wants to have their personal space invaded or their bodily integrity compromised. But police officers often order DWI blood tests from people during Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) investigations to determine that person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). BAC refers to the percent of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream and is a factor when determining whether to file a DWI charge. Understanding blood draws in DWI cases can be confusing because the legal process of taking a blood sample is a complicated area of the law. As with other DWI laws, there are legal requirements that must be met for a blood draw after a DWI, BWI, or DUI arrest.

Many in the legal community consider Mimi Coffey a knowledgeable criminal attorney on the subject of DWI due her 25 years of experience and board certification in DWI Defense by the NCDD. Mimi knows that any Texas DWI arrest can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. She also knows that the fear of the moment can sometimes cloud a person’s memory of the arrest. Mimi conducts a full case evaluation to determine the strongest points of a client’s case, and to help them refresh their memory of the arrest. During this evaluation, Mimi goes over all of the evidence, including video, and gives recommendations on how best to proceed.

Here is a simplified explanation of the blood draw requirements from a DWI Lawyer in Arlington. A DWI blood draw has two main requirements: 1) a qualified person must perform the blood draw, and 2) the blood draw must occur in a “sanitary” place. Texas Transp. Code § 724.017(a) and (a-1). There is one important thing to note before getting into the details, though. Keep in mind that police can “force” a blood draw by getting a warrant even when a person refuses.

Qualified Person Requirement

The statute lists five broad categories for persons qualified to perform a blood draw:

  • a physician;
  • a qualified technician;
  • a registered professional nurse;
  • a licensed vocational nurse; or
  • a licensed or certified [EMT] authorized to take a blood specimen under subsection (c).

Subsection (c) has some specific restrictions. But, to put it simply, an EMT can only perform a blood draw if authorized by the EMT’s medical director and using protocol established by the medical director. Stated another way, an EMT is not a “qualified technician” under the statute. A phlebotomist is usually, but not always, a “qualified technician” for blood draws. In essence, a “qualified technician” is someone not in the other categories but is “qualified” because of education, experience, etc..

Texas DWI, Blood Draw, Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer

Does this hospital room look sanitary?

Sanitary Place Requirement for a Blood Draw

The “sanitary place” requirement, however, can be somewhat confusing. Part of the reason for confusion is that the statute does not define what “sanitary” means. There is also very little case law that defines “sanitary” for blood draws. Unfortunately, most of the caselaw says that a place only has to be “safe” rather than “ideal” to count. Some cases say that taking a blood draw on the floor of a place is not sanitary. This is the case even if the place itself is sanitary.

However, the Health and Safety Code can provide some minimal insight into what “sanitary” might mean. The code defines sanitary as “a condition of good order and cleanliness that precludes the probability of disease transmission”. This definition is only somewhat helpful. The code then defines public nuisance, which is a bit more helpful. Some of the key examples that we have seen in the past could fall under a public nuisance. These public nuisances include:

  • a place, condition, or building controlled or operated by a state or local government agency not maintained in a sanitary condition;
  • sewage, human excreta, wastewater, garbage, or other organic wastes deposited, stored, discharged, or exposed in such a way as to be a potential instrument or medium in disease transmission to a person or between persons;
  • a place or condition harboring rats in a populous area;
  • an object, place, or condition that is a possible and probable medium of disease transmission to or between humans.

More about Mimi Coffey & The Coffey Firm

When people look for a Top DWI Attorney or Best DWI Attorney, they look for experience, certification, and respect in the legal community. Mimi Coffey is a nationally-renowned trial attorney, board-certified in DWI by the NCDD. She has been practicing for over 24 years and is an author of multiple DWI Defense textbooks. She is also a national and state-wide lecturer on the law.

The Coffey Firm handles a wide variety of cases, including Unlawful Carrying Weapon (UCW), Assault (including family violence), and Possession charges. We can also help you try to seal your record or avoid probation revocation.

Mimi is also listed on several “top criminal lawyer near me” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant CountyDWI attorney Dallas County, DWI attorneys Collin County and DWI attorneys Parker County. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW, She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.

DWI Accidents Involving Injury

DWI Accidents Involving Injury*WARNING* THE PUNISHMENT FOR NOT STOPPING AT DWI ACCIDENTS INVOLVING INJURY IS A UNIQUE TYPE OF PUNISHMENT!

Stress can cause a person to act differently. Hopefully, most people would agree that a car accident can be a very stressful event. Further, most people would hopefully agree that we should check for any injuries after an accident. And, hopefully most of us would agree that no one would intentionally want to be in an accident or injure another person in an accident. it is also possible that a person may seem intoxicated, but other factors such as a medical event, could appear as intoxication to others when it is simply not the case. But, again, stress can sometimes cause a person to do something they wouldn’t normally do, including leaving an accident. However, keep in mind that leaving an accident may lead to criminal punishment, not just a personal injury case.

Mimi has experience in representing accidents involving injury and understands that the situation can be extremely scary. Mimi will listen and do a full case evaluation to understand the circumstances before and after the accident in totality to provide the best representation possible. If you are looking for a “criminal lawyer near me,” know that Mimi handles most of North Texas.

Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 defines the offense of DWI “Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death.”

The statute states (in simplified language) that:

(a) The driver of a car involved in an accident that involves (or is reasonably likely to involve) injury or death shall immediately:

  1. Stop at the scene or as close to the scene as possible;
  2. Return to the scene if not stopped at the scene;
  3. Determine whether a person involved in the accident is injured, and whether that person requires help; and
  4. Remain at the scene to gather information and render aid (if necessary).

The Punishment

This is fairly straightforward. Where the statute becomes confusing, however, is where it defines the punishment for violating the statute. An accident involving serious injury or death is easy to understand. But, an accident involving simple injury seems to be a brand new type of punishment that seems to fit somewhere between a misdemeanor and a felony. In other words, just looking at the statute does not clarify whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor. Case law says that it is “unambiguously” a felony since imprisonment (rather than confinement) is a possible punishment.

(c) a person commits an offense if the person does not stop or follow the rules above. An offense:

  1. Involving an accident resulting in:
    1. Death is a second degree felony (2-20 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or combination)
    2. Serious bodily injury (think losing an arm or a leg) is a third degree felony (2-10 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or combination)
  2. Involving an accident resulting in injury (non-serious) is:
    1. imprisonment in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for not more than 5 years, or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year;
    2. a fine not to exceed $5,000; or
    3. both the fine and imprisonment/confinement.

For reference:

  • A State Jail Felony is: state jail 180 days – 2 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • A Class A Misdemeanor is: Up to 1 year of jail, a fine up to $4,000, or a combination.

Mimi Coffey is listed on several “top” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant CountyDWI Lawyer Dallas County, DWI Lawyer Collin County, DWI Lawyer in Johnson County and DWI Lawyer Parker County. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW, She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.