Toyota developing new technology for DWI and drunk driving

According to a yahoo article, Toyota is in the process of developing technology to combat drunk driving in commercial vehicles.  The device that they are currently testing would have a hand-held breathalyzer that detects alcohol in a persons breath and prevent the vehicle from being started if the level of alcohol is over a certain amount.   The article goes on to state that there will be a camera to verify the person that has blown into the machine.

Funny thing about this article is the technology already exists and is being used in DWI cases every day here in Houston.  The only difference is that the technology used here in Texas is "after market," not original to the vehicle.  Go see my friends at EZ Interlock if you are interested in the technology that is already on the market. 

The Harris County courts are using this technology more and more often.  My concern is that Big Brother is getting bigger and bigger.  I think it is very possible that Big Brother may mandate this type of technology for everyone at some point in our history, and that is just frightening.  What else is Big Brother going to mandate - that we all GPS technology in our vehicles so they can know where we are at all times?

Another DWI arrest for former Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Gillispie

As has been widely reported,  former Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Gillispie arrested for DWI / DUI in Kentucky.  Gillispie was arrested approximately 30 miles from Lexington, where he most recently coached the Kentucky basketball team.

GillispieAccording to reports, Gillispie was pulled over for after police received a call of a possibly intoxicated driver that was driving erratically.  The report states that claims he had trouble with his insurance card and that he was confused about the car locks and glove box.  The report goes on to say that Gillispie refused to volunteer for a breath test or blood test.

Gillispie, just like everyone here in Houston charged with DWI, is presumed to be innocent.  Do you think that most that begin to read this article or any other reports of his arrest really presume him to be innocent or do they just assume that because he was charged, he must be guilty?  As a Houston DWI lawyer, I unfortunately think the former is true.  Even though there is a Constitutional Presumption of Innocence, I don't think many in Houston or the rest of the United States really gives much credence to that presumption.  I firmly believe  that he has probably already been convicted in the mind of the public.

As predicted and expected, Harris County DA's office using DIVERT interview against defendants

Last week I spoke with one of our elected Harris County judges and expressed my concerns about the evaluation interview regarding the DWI DIVERT program.  I explained to this Judge that I was concerned about the interviewer asking my client about the alleged DWI facts and the responses that were given.  My concern then was that the Harris County DA's office would use this information in the prosecution of the case if it went to trial. 

I asked the chief prosecutor in that court (who I trust implicitly) if she would use the information from the DWI interview in the prosecution of my client.  She responded that she would not use the information from the interview against any client in any subsequent prosecution of the case should client decide not to accept the DIVERT program.  For the record, I believe her and have no doubt that she would not use this information against my DWI client.

I then asked if I could get the agreement (not to use the information) in writing.  After consulting with the higher-ups, they were not willing to sign a written agreement.  Therefore, we did not agree to be interviewed for the DIVERT program.

Fast forward to today.  A Houston DWI lawyer informed me today that he had basically the same conversation with the Harris County District Attorney's office.  They assured him that they would not use any information against his client that was obtained in the interview for the DIVERT program.  Even though the DA's office told him his client was a good candidate for the program, after the interview for the DIVERT program the DA's office declined him for the program.  And guess what, the DIVERT interviewer sent over a detailed statement given by that client to the prosecutor in the court.  Essentially they sent a confession over.

Again, the pitfalls of the DIVERT program are exposed.

7th Annual Top Gun DWI Seminar - A Blood Test Trial From Start to Finish

Our firm attended the above DWI seminar last week.  The seminar focused on the ever increasing number of DWI arrests that involve blood tests and the challenges that can be made to the admissibility of the blood test results.  While some of the discussion was very technical, most of the material presented was pretty straight forward.

I obtained a few nuggets of knowledge that will help many of my blood test cases.  Unfortunately, I believe the number of blood test cases in Harris County will continue to increase over the foreseeable future.  While I don't like this fact and think that the mandatory blood tests are too Constitutionally invasive, they are becoming more and more prevalent. 

DWI blood draw warrants have become more and more pervasive in Houston and other Texas counties.  Law enforcement officers are advocating the use of mandatory blood draws in even the most mundane DWI cases.  It is incumbent upon those of us that fight DWI cases to be vigilant in our efforts to educate ourselves to effectively defend our DWI clients.  We all must do our part to fight against these mandatory blood draws either with a warrant or without a warrant.

New lows in lawyer marketing - Andy Nolen's style

Just like my friends and colleagues Mark Bennett, John Floyd, Paul Kennedy, Murray Newman and Cynthia Henley, I too am calling out Andy Nolen's immature attempt to market his law practice (if he even has a legitimate law practice.) 

What is it that Andy Nolen has done?  In an attempt to bolster his reputation, he has taken to very juvenile tactics.  He has created or has had someone create a username and has written reviews of  some of the best attorneys in Houston.  In fact, the person with the username "Jerry K" wrote 32 reviews of Houston lawyers on 1 day.  And guess what?  31 of the reviews of Houston lawyers were negative and only one was positive - that review was for Andy Nolen.

Let's take my law partner Leslie Johnson as an example, where Jerry K says, "Pompous, this guy acted like he was the president or sumthin and treated me like i was trash."  So how do I know this is fraudulent - well my law partner is also my wife and not a he as described in the post.

The following is a list that was posted on Mark Bennett's blog that I attached here for reference.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Paul Kennedy: I'm calling you out, Andy Nolen.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Cynthia Henley: Thinking about hiring Andy Nolen - let's put it this way - you better shop around . . .
Miami criminal defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum: In Houston, Criminal Defense Lawyer Andy Nolen is the Best. Everyone Else Sucks.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Murray Newman: When We All Agree
Houston criminal defense lawyer John Floyd: Houston Attorney Andy Nolen: A Dishonest Lawyer?
The Further Adventures of "Lawyer" Andy Nolen
The Continuing Adventures of "Lawyer" Andy Nolen
Andy Nolen: Total Fraud?
Andy Nolen: Today's Last Chapter]

Andy Nolen, you and your blatant attempt to make other Houston Criminal Defense lawyers look bad for your benefit is completely transparent and a disgrace to our profession.

12 days into DWI DIVERT Program - Still no official forms for DWI lawyers to review

The Harris County District Attorney's office has been talking about the new DWI pretrial diversion program since May of this year.  We have heard the official date of the start of the program is August 1, 2009.  It is now August 12, 2009 and we as Houston DWI lawyers have yet to see any of the official documents related to the new DWI DIVERT program.  I was in court this morning and asked a chief prosecutor for the paperwork that they would require my client to sign to be a part of the DWI program.  The response - "We don't have the final forms yet."

How am I as a Houston DWI attorney suppose to advise my clients to accept or reject this program if we don't even have the forms that would be required to enter into the agreement?  I know, it is a rhetorical question, but the program and the design of the program have been ill-conceived from the outset.

The assistant Harris County DA's are just as frustrated, in fairness, by the lack of information as the defense bar is.  Why?  Because they too are dependent on the higher-ups in the office to learn about the program.  It seems nobody really knows enough about this program - remember, the DWI diversion plan that District Attorney Pat Lykos discussed months ago

The new DWI DIVERT program - ill-conceived, hastily planned and a waste of time so far. 

Here is the Pre-Trial Diversion conversation I predicted was coming

I was in court this morning and the Assistant Harris County District Attorney that I dealt with gave me insight into the new DIVERT program and confirmed to me that there will be fewer dismissals of Houston DWI cases, at least temporarily. 

Here is the gist of the today's conversation about one of my innocent clients that was charged with DWI:

Me:  Have you had a chance to evaluate this case for trial?

Prosecutor:  Sure, your client is eligible for pretrial diversion.

Me:  Sure he is, he has never been in trouble before.  But, have you evaluated this case for trial?

Prosecutor:  He is eligible for the new DIVERT program.

Me:  I understand he meets your qualifications, but have you evaluated the case for trial.  My client is not interested in doing the DIVERT program.

Prosecutor:  Why wouldn't your client do the pretrial diversion program.

Me:  Have you watched the video in this case that shows my client is not intoxicated and does not comport with what the offense report says?

Prosecutor:  The new program will allow your client to get his case dismissed.

Me:  Again have you seen the video?

Prosecutor:  No because your client can do the pretrial diversion program.......

This went on for a few more rounds until it seemed to finally sink in to the prosecutor that my client is not going to participate in the new DIVERT program.  Only then did she agree to watch the video and evaluate the case for trial. 

Is it too much to ask to have them evaluate the case for trial and have them actually do that?  Do the prosecutors really want innocent people pleading guilty to a crime (requirement of the pretrial diversion) that they are not guilty of?  Do they want the police officers to be the person that arrests the citizen, inaccurately reports about that citizen and then ultimately convicts the citizen?  Do the prosecutors want to use the education they received to actually evaluate theses cases? 

I Finished DWI Pretrial Diversion - Can I get my Record Expunged?

One of the carrots the Harris County District Attorney's Office is offering with the new DWI pre-trial diversion program is an expunction after the completion of the program.  Is this just another fraud by the DA's office?  I think so.

Let's take a closer look at the draft proposal the DA's office has shared to date.  The final paragraph of that proposal is a DISCLAIMER that says,

The defendant acknowledges that he may or may not be eligible for an expunction upon the completion of their agreement and the dismissal of this case.

What do you mean "the defendant may or may not be eligible for an expunction?"  Let me get this straight, the Harris County DA's office is offering this program presumably to allow a defendant to clear his record.  However, in the same document, the DA's office is forcing a defendant to acknowledge that the DA is not going to help them get the record expunged. 

The reason for this disclaimer is that the Department of Public Safety may look at this plea arrangement as a form of deferred adjudication probation and oppose the expunction.  The DA's office knows that DPS is going to oppose an expunction and they don't care.  Just another fraud by the Harris County DA's office's pretrial diversion program.