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DWI and Texas Driver’s License

Did you know that a DWI can affect your Texas Driver’s License?

A DWI arrest may result in a suspension of your Texas Driver’s License. Having an experienced DWI law firm behind you is very important in protecting your rights. It is *incredibly* important to have a DWI Lawyer experienced in protecting your Texas Driver’s License.

How can The Coffey Firm help with my Texas Driver’s License after a DWI arrest?

The Coffey Firm is very familiar with the DWI license suspension process, described in more detail below, and has multiple lawyers who handle the ALR hearings. We even have one DWI lawyer dedicated to ALRs and other Texas Driver’s License matters. This includes petitioning for clients to obtain an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) to allow clients to drive for essential needs during a DWI suspension. Rest assured that The Coffey Firm will fight to protect your Texas Driver’s License to allow you to live your life with as few restrictions as possible.

DWI and ALR Driver License Suspension

The main suspension that affects a person arrested for DWI is call the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) suspension. After police make a DWI arrest, the law requires them to read what is called a ‘statutory warning’ (DIC-24) to the person arrested for DWI. This warning goes over the consequences of giving breath or blood (a “failure” case if BAC is .08 or higher), and the consequences of *refusing* to give breath or blood. If you “refuse,” police must obtain a warrant to do a DWI blood draw. Keep in mind that on a ‘refusal’ case, DPS only has to prove everything up to the refusal itself. This means that for a ‘refusal’ case, DPS does not care about the actual blood result.

You have 15 days from the date of arrest (not the date of release or date of charge) to request the ALR hearing.

The consequences of a “failure” case are a 90 day suspension on a first time DWI arrest or a 1 year suspension for a second or more DWI arrest within 10 years. However, if you have a prior older than 10 years, then the clock essentially resets back to the first time DWI arrest. For example, a DWI arrest in 2023 when your prior occurred in 1991 will mean you only face a 90 day suspension in a ‘failure’ case.

The consequences of a ‘refusal’ case are a 180 day suspension on a first time DWI arrest or a 2 year suspension on a second or more DWI arrest within 10 years. As with the ‘failure’ cases, a prior DWI arrest from over 10 years ago does not affect you. So, a prior DWI suspension from 1991 would not affect a 2023 DWI suspension, at least for the ALR.

How does the DWI criminal case affect my Drivers License suspension?

If a jury finds you not guilty of DWI, then the ALR suspension goes away once DPS receives notice of the DWI not guilty.

But, here is the bad news: the criminal case *generally* does not affect your ALR drivers license suspension. This means that even if the State never files a DWI case against you or gives you a DWI dismissal or DWI reduction, that the ALR suspension would not go away.

The other bad news: a DWI conviction may result in a *separate* drivers license suspension. The law allows for the criminal court to issue its own DWI suspension upon a DWI conviction. This criminal suspension ranges from 90 days on the low end (first time DWI convictions) up to 2 years.

GOOD NEWS, though: on a first time DWI conviction, courts give credit for any ALR suspension already completed. In other words, the court may give you a 90 day criminal suspension, but with credit for 90 day ALR suspension. This would mean no separate suspension on more than paper. Similarly, on a first time DWI conviction there will typically be no separate criminal suspension if you receive DWI probation and that probation requires you to complete a DWI Education Program and/or requires you to only drive vehicles with an ignition interlock installed.

What if I have a Texas CDL? Does that change anything?

Short answer: yes, having a CDL makes quite a bit of difference.

The Texas CDL primarily affects the criminal case and eligibility for DWI deferred. But, having a Texas CDL also impacts your Texas Drivers License suspensions in a strange way. The base suspension does not change, but a CDL holder may receive a CDL disqualification *separate* from the regular license suspension. A first time DWI with a CDL results in a 1 year CDL disqualification on top of the base suspension. A second results in a lifetime CDL disqualification. (*however, the law does allow for a person to reapply for a CDL after a certain amount of time following the disqualification). This means that even once the ALR suspension ends, the disqualification would prevent driving commercial vehicles, which may place employment at risk for most CDL holders.

The Coffey Firm is dedicated to protecting your CDL so that a first time DWI does not ruin your life! Our DWI Lawyers know how important your CDL is to making a living and will fight hard so that you can keep your job.

What are the consequences to driving without a Texas Driver’s License?

The main consequence that you place yourself at risk of a Driving While License Invalid (DWLI) Or While License Suspended (DWLS) ticket. Fortunately, both of these are fine-only traffic tickets most of the time. However, there are circumstances that would raise it to a Class B Misdemeanor. One of those is driving without insurance. More importantly, though, is that if it was as DWI suspension the DWLI becomes a Class B Misdemeanor. This means that rather than simply paying a ticket, police may arrest you. This is why The Coffey Firm helps clients obtain an Occupational Drivers License in the event of a suspension. With the ODL, the court grants you permission to drive for essential need during the suspension, meaning that you are legal to drive within the restrictions set by the court.

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 get a DWI off your record or avoid probation revocation.

Mimi is also listed on several “top criminal lawyer near me” directory listings such as Wise County DWI Lawyers, Tarrant County DWI LawyerDallas County DWI attorney, Collin County DWI attorneys and Parker County DWI attorneys. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in Dallas – Fort Worth. 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.

Texas DWI Blood Tube Recall

Texas DWI Blood Tube Recall, Blood Draw, Blood Test Mimi Coffey DWI LawyerDespite having many problems, DWI blood tests have become the norm for many police agencies as part of a DWI investigation. Any problem with the tube or the substance within the tube can have *huge* ramification on DWI blood test accuracy. This is why a Texas DWI blood tube recall means that the problem might cause inaccuracies when tested.

BD, one of these medical companies, issued a recall of just under 250,000 tubes because of an issue with the preservative. To illustrate, the preservative is, as the name implies, designed to preserve the blood and combat issues like fermentation. Without this preservative (or with defective preservative), fermentation and other issues have a higher risk of occurrence. But, BD is not wholly to blame for the issues associated with the recall. To their credit, in the recall notice BD advised agencies to review inventory and return defective tubes. In a later notice, they even recommended destroying all affected tubes. However, Texas DPS gave conflicting instructions by telling agencies to “submit specimens [quickly]” even when it came to recalled tubes.

How many cases has the Texas DWI blood tube recall affected?

Put simply, in many cases (about 2,760 identified cases) agencies used, and labs tested, recalled tubes. Because of the unfortunate COVID 19 pandemic, many of these cases are *just now* before a court. Mimi currently has a few clients whose arrests fell within the time period where police may have used the recalled tubes. Mimi understands the science behind DWI blood testing and likes to review the detailed blood records to determine the presence of issues that might show a higher or lower BAC. She recently appeared on NBC 5 as part of their “NBC Investigates” segment on the recalled blood tubes. You can find that DWI blood tube article on NBC 5’s website.

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 get a DWI off your record or avoid probation revocation.

Mimi is also listed on several “top criminal lawyer near me” directory listings such as Wise County DWI Lawyers, Tarrant County DWI LawyerDallas County DWI attorney, Collin County DWI attorneys and Parker County DWI attorneys. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in Dallas – Fort Worth. 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.

Texas DWI & Corpus Delicti

The Law Requires Reasonable Suspicion to Detain for Texas DWI

One of the basis concepts in Criminal Law is that police must have reasonable suspicion to begin an investigation. Reasonable suspicion exists when, based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer has specific, articulable facts that, when combined with rational inferences from those facts, would lead him to reasonably conclude that a person is, has been, or soon will be engaged in criminal activity. While this is an objective standard under the law, sometimes the subjective intent of the officer seeps in. For example, while the officer may objectively have a reason to stop you for speeding, he might subjectively want to make a DWI stop. The officer may develop this intent if, for example, his patrol route is in an area with multiple bars or if he patrols a specific time of night.

Where this standard becomes questionable is when the “reasonable suspicion” does not arise until after an encounter. To illustrate, imagine seeing an accident on the road and, being a good Samaritan, you pull over to help if needed. The police arrive and start interviewing everyone on scene and, during the conversation, you mention that you had a few drinks earlier before pulling over to help with the accident. Suddenly, the officer pulls you to the side to have you perform the pseudo-scientific SFSTs, even though you were only there to help!

Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, Corpus DelictiCorpus Delicti

Simply admitting to driving is not enough. This falls under a Criminal Defense rule called “corpus delicti”. This rule requires the Prosecution to prove the commission of a crime before an out-of-court admission to a crime is admissible as evidence. In the realm of Texas DWI, this means that simply admitting to driving is not enough. Further, police may not require a person “to undergo [SFSTs] without reasonable suspicion that the person [is DWI]”.

Rudd v. State

A good example of how Texas likes to ignore this rule is State v. Rudd, 255 S.W.3d 293. In that case, a friend drove out to the scene of an accident at the injured driver’s request. During the course of investigating the accident, police notice the “smell of alcohol” on Rudd. Rudd was already out of his car when police arrived, but they made him do the SFSTs anyways. Ultimately, police arrested Rudd for DWI despite no driving facts other than Rudd’s admission.

The trial court suppressed evidence of the SFSTs based on an “invalid detention” (i.e., no reasonable suspicion). This was an amazing display of justice by the trial court. Unfortunately, the appellate court said the trial court erred. The appellate court said that the officer did have reasonable suspicion for the DWI investigation. In what world is allowing police to arrest with no driving facts just? Texas has no excuse for ignoring the reasonable suspicion requirement for investigations. We should not be coming up with any unrelated excuse to jump into SFSTs and DWI investigations. The law requires reasonable suspicion to detain for Texas DWI.

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.

Texas DWI Blood Test Issues

Texas DWI, Blood Draw, Blood Test Mimi Coffey DWI LawyerThough many don’t realize it, most Texas DWI cases involve DWI blood tests rather than breath tests. This is in large part because of the fact that the law allows police to draw your blood by getting a warrant if you refuse to give breath or blood. Regardless of whether police drew blood as a result of consent or a warrant, there are many issues surrounding the reliability of the result of a blood test. This is in addition to the requirements for blood draws in Texas DWI.


One of the main issues with a Texas DWI blood test is fermentation. The technical definition of fermentation is “the chemical process by which molecules are broken down anaerobically”. This can be described in simpler terms as the process where a substance metabolizes. Many people are familiar with the concept of fermentation related to making things like beer or wine. What many may not know is that blood can also experience fermentation. When a DWI Blood Tube is old or defective, room air can get in and cause the blood to ferment faster. When blood experiences fermentation, it tends to result in a higher blood alcohol score.

For example, a fermented sample may return a result above .15 even though the actual alcohol content should be much lower. This is one explanation for why many people hear/see the blood result and say “I know I wasn’t that drunk”. Mimi has a background in science and has hands-on experience analyzing blood test results through education at Axion Labs and the UTA Shimadzu lab on gas chromatography. This is one reason why Mimi might request blood discovery for your case. What she finds in that discovery might show that fermentation or a host of other issues might be at play.

Other Texas DWI Blood Test Issues

There are a host of issues that can affect the reliability of the blood test or its result, including:

  • Fermentation (see above)
  • Contamination – for example, another substance mingles with the blood.
  • Misidentification – for example, placing the wrong name on the tube. This can also happen when placing incorrect information on the tube..
  • Improper Calibration – this occurs, for example, when the testers do not properly calibrate the machine used for testing.
  • Expired Calibration – when the machine used for testing is out-of-date.
  • Inaccurate Pipettes
  • Inaccurate Dilutors
  • Deficient Quality Control – when the technique is not properly supervised, or when the blood results are not double-checked before submission.
  • Improper venipuncture (see video) – in other words, when the technician does not perform the blood draw correctly.
  • Inaccurate calculations (at all levels including the calibration curve & margin of error). In other words, interpreting the data incorrectly.

See the below video for an example of proper blood draw procedure.

Mimi Coffey DWI Lawyer, blood test procedure

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 get a DWI off 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.

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.