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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Sandra Bland Traffic Stop and What You Should Know About Your Rights During A Traffic Stop

In Texas Public Radio’s story, “10 Things About The Sandra Bland Traffic Stop that Every Texan Should Know,” Rhonda Fanning provides some useful information for Texas motorists. But some of the statements in the article are inaccurate and some are just plain confusing. For example, it is inaccurate to say that an officer has “no right” to instruct someone to get out of his/her car during a traffic stop, or that an officer has to express some valid reason. The officer here apparently didn’t have lawful justification for removing the motorist from her vehicle and prolonging the stop. The motorist was correct to point that out, but she didn’t have a right to physically resist. The article is confusing in that it doesn’t clearly differentiate between things a police officer is legally obligated to do — like have probable cause to initiate an arrest – versus things that an officer should do, in accordance with his training.

Here’s an even shorter list of rights and practical advice in a traffic stop or police encounter:

  1. You don’t have to answer any questions, except to state your correct name and address & produce necessary documents (like DL and insurance);
  1. You do have the right to ask questions (like, “am I free to leave?” and, “why are you arresting me?”), but … the cop doesn’t have to answer;
  1. You have the right (and you should exercise it!) to tell the officer whenever you disagree with a request (such as asking for permission to search your vehicle or to have you step outside your vehicle). But … you should never argue or fight with a police officer. After you’ve politely let the cop know you disagree, go ahead and comply with his request.

It’s important to remember that you are probably being video recorded, so always be polite and do not use foul or abusive language when dealing with a police officer. If your traffic stop or police encounter results in a ticket or arrest and you believe your rights were violated, get a good lawyer and go kick the cop’s butt in court.

All of this may be little comfort to a person who gets illegally stopped or detained, mistreated and falsely arrested. Many people go to jail and spend days, weeks or longer in lock-up, because they are too poor to post bond. Some lose their jobs because of unlawful arrests. And about that good lawyer who will kick the cop’s butt in court? Not everyone gets one of those.

Houston Attorney Grant Scheiner tells CW39 NewsFix viewers, “There’s no such thing as ‘No Refusal.'”

Be smart and know your rights when stopped for ??DWI? or ??DUI?.

Guide to Contesting a DWI Charge

A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge is typically considered a misdemeanor on the first offense in Texas; however, the consequences of a conviction can be far more serious than other misdemeanor charges. A DWI conviction could mean jail time, fines, administrative fees, and a possible suspended license.

To help you avoid these harsh penalties, this guide to contesting a DWI charge aims to help you prepare yourself should you be charged. It may not come as a surprise, but we strongly recommend seeking the consultation of an attorney who specializes in DWI defense cases to help improve your chances to successfully fight a DWI charge. However if you choose to proceed, here are some important guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Record as many details of the incident as possible – Write down anything you remember about getting pulled over for an alleged DWI, including what you and the officers said, what tests they asked you to perform and how they were conducted both on their part and yours, and any other specifics you recall.
  2. Learn about the validity of field sobriety tests ­– Many of the procedures that police offers use during a field sobriety test to make a DWI charge are not always accurate and can sometimes be successfully challenged in court. If you were asked to perform any, research about the validity of each of them.
  3. Consider any extenuating circumstances that may influence sobriety tests – People with injuries, certain medical conditions, are past a certain age, or more than 50 lbs. overweight can fail certain tests, such as the walk-and-turn, even if they haven’t consumed any alcohol.
  4. Field Sobriety tests improperly administered ­­– According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, improperly administered field tests are not valid as evidence of intoxication.
  5. Consider the validity of nonstandardized field sobriety tests – Some of the most common tests–including saying the alphabet, counting backwards and touching your nose with your finger­–can be considered invalid as evidence and can lead to a dismissal of charges.
  6. Breath tests are not always accurate – Many alcohol breath tests can have widely inaccurate results and a margin of error large enough to help contest a DWI charge. The breath test may not have been properly administered as well, in which case the evidence would be deemed inadmissible.
  7. Lack of probable cause to arrest – A police officer must have specific facts to support any arrest for DWI, or the suspension will be reversed and the evidence suppressed at trial.

This guide to contesting a DWI should serve as an initial overview for you to consider if you are charged. As mentioned before, having a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in DWI cases review the specifics of your arrest can help you sort through all of the possible reasons for contesting a charge.

To learn more about contesting a DWI charge, contact Scheiner Law Group today.

How to Get a Provisional License after a DWI Conviction

Receiving a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) conviction can make your life very difficult for a variety of reasons. Beyond the potential fines and possible jail time depending on your case, the loss of your license can also severely impact you daily life, especially if you rely upon your car to get to work. Fortunately you may not be at a total loss if you act quickly and wisely. In this article we’ll explain how to get a provisional license, also known as an occupational license, after a DWI conviction.

According to the Texas Transportation Code your license will be suspended if you refuse to take a blood-alcohol test, fail one, or get convicted of a DWI. If you are convicted of a DWI your license will be automatically suspended from 90 days to one year for a first offense, and for six months to two years for subsequent offenses.

You have the right to file for a provisional/occupational license if you have not already received one in the past 10 years. This temporary restricted license will enable you to travel back and forth to work, school or to carry out critical household tasks.

To get a provisional license, you must explain your “essential need” in a detailed petition and file it with the court clerk. The judge will then hold a special hearing to determine whether to issue an order granting you the restricted license. The judge will take your driving history in to account, and determine the exact parameters of when and under what circumstances you can drive. You will also be required to show proof of insurance during the process.

Getting Approval for a Provisional License

The judge’s order granting you a restricted license must specify certain information, including:

  • Hours and days of the week when you can drive.
  • Permitted purposes for which you can drive.
  • Areas or routes that you are permitted to drive.

Typically you won’t be able to drive more than four hours of the day unless the judge specifies otherwise. The provisional license will take effect immediately, unless you have a previous DWI offense within the last five-years, in which case you may have to wait 6 months to a year.

Requirements of the Provisional License

The judge will impose certain restrictions and requirements upon you when granting an order for a provisional license, including:

  • Carrying a certified copy of the order whenever you are driving.
  • Get alcohol dependence counseling from a state-approved facility. This counseling is considered separate from any mandatory DWI program you may be required to take for your probation.
  • Using an ignition interlock device to keep your vehicle from starting if you have been drinking. The judge has the option to make this a condition for your first offense, but it is required for a second and subsequent offenses.

Failing to adhere to any of these requirements is considered a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, and will likely result in the suspension of the provisional license.

To learn more about a provisional license or to find the answers to any other questions regarding a DWI or other legal matter, contact us today.

Why Trial By Jury May Be a Better Choice Than a Judge

When involved in a legal case, many people wonder if they’re better off trying their case before a jury or a judge. And while there are always exceptions for particular cases, generally speaking as a defendant a trial by jury is usually a better choice than a judge (also known as a bench trial), one that is particularly preferred in Texas despite some declining numbers. The decision can be a complicated one, and certainly one to discuss at length with your legal representation. But to help you sort through the decision more for yourself, here are some things to keep in mind.

If you plan to go before a jury, keep these factors in mind:

  • When defendants elect a jury trial, the state often sends a more experienced prosecutor against you than if you were in front of a judge.
  • When dealing with a jury of 6 to 12 people, they are all drivers and may be impatient with someone with a DUI or a reckless driving defendant.
  • Jury trials tend to last longer than non-jury trials, thus raising legal costs.
  • Judges tend to be stricter on legal technicalities and procedures during a jury trial than a non-jury trial.

Alternatively, there are many good reasons to choose a jury trial:

  • Jurors may open to hearing your case if they themselves have felt victimized by the traffic court system. If your case is particularly convincing and appeals on an emotional level, you’re typically in better standing with a jury.
  • If you’re facing especially serious consequences from a guilty verdict–such as losing your license or jail time, you are usually better to appeal to a jury of your peers who may be more sympathetic than a judge to your plight.
  • Given how time-consuming jury trials can be for all involved, the system has some incentive to settle your case without going to trial though a deal that may be more beneficial to you.
  • With a jury trial you (or your lawyer) only have to convince one person in the group that you are not guilty for you to win a case. Meanwhile a judge tends to be a tougher crowd, as they themselves have often been prosecutors in the past.

Again, each case is different, so it’s important to speak with your attorney to determine if trial by jury is the better choice for you than a judge. Obviously, there are no guarantees with either choice as any lawyer will tell you, but it’s important to know your options before making a choice.

To learn more about jury trials compared to trials with a judge, contact one of our legal experts at Scheiner Law Group today.

Immediate Actions to Take After a DWI Charge

The moments after receiving a DWI charge can be confusing, upsetting and stressful, especially if it’s your first experience. But despite this difficult moment, there are immediate actions to take after a DWI charge than can drastically improve the outcome of the incident.

While many people resign themselves to believing that there is nothing they can do to fight the charge, but now is not the time to despair. Regardless of the circumstances of and possibly even a dismissal of charges, the moments following your arrest are a crucial time to take action to defend your well-being and do everything you can to protect against the potentially devastating impact of a DWI conviction.

Once you have followed our recommendations on what to do if you are stopped for DWI in Texas and followed our advice for refusing DWI tests, here are the steps to take following your charge:

    1. Write down absolutely everything – As overwhelming as a DWI charge can be it is vitally important that you write down (or record on your smart phone) everything you can about the incident. It’s often said that DWI cases are won or lost in the details, even the most seemingly trivial details can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. You’d be surprised at what will slip your mind after just a few days or weeks, so write down as much as you can about the following:
      • When and where were you when the arrest took place?
      • What questions did the officer ask you?
      • What were your responses to the officer?
      • Was a breath test administered and if so how was it conducted?
      • What did the breath test device look like?
      • Were field sobriety tests administered?
      • How were the tests conducted and what were the outcomes?

It’s critically important to draft a complete version of what happened and share it only with your    lawyer.

      1. Gather witnesses – In Texas, the prosecution may have witnesses to develop their case against you, so it’s important that you do the same. If anyone was in your car, with you prior to the arrest, witnessed the event, or can provide character testimonies, ask them if they would be willing to help. Ask them to write down as many details about the arrest that they can remember as soon as possible.
      1. Contact an attorney – DWI cases are difficult for the defendant, but they are not impossible to win. You will need an experienced Houston DWI lawyer who is sympathetic to your situation, has a track record of success, and can build a case for you that will stand up in court.
      1. Try not to stress out – As difficult as facing a DWI charge can be, it’s important to avoid panicking or making rash, ill-advised decisions. Let your attorney develop a detailed plan and follow his or her lead. Trust that your lawyer knows the best procedures and tactics to follow to achieve the best results for your case.
      2. Learn from your situation – Regardless of what happened or whether or not you were rightly or wrongly charged, it’s important to learn from your experience. One DWI conviction can have significant consequences, but receiving a second or third can have major consequences.

Have you been charged with a DWI in Texas? Reach out to Scheiner Law Group today to learn more about what steps you should take next.

Why You Will Need a Lawyer for Your DWI Case in Houston

The state of Texas has very strict laws regarding driving while intoxicated, and if you’re convicted of a DWI you can face serious and far-reaching consequences, including fines, a suspended license and even jail time. What’s more, a DWI conviction in Houston, Texas will be on your record for life. Sometimes people who are charged with a DWI believe they will be able to represent themselves in court or simply assume the case cannot be won, but chances are, without excellent legal representation this individuals will face serious penalties.

Why You Will Need a Lawyer for Your DWI Case in Houston

Whether you’re facing your first DWI charge or you’ve been convicted in the past, having an experienced DWI and criminal defense lawyer on your side can drastically increase your chances of a dismissal or reduce potential penalties. Here are some of the reasons why you will need a lawyer for your DWI case in Houston:

  • A lawyer won’t simply take the first plea deal, but instead thoroughly investigate all aspects of the case and explore all possible defenses.
  • Using their years of experience with DWI cases, an attorney can look for reasons that your case should be dismissed.
  • An experienced DWI lawyer can challenge the basis for which the arresting officer stopped your vehicle.
  • A lawyer can challenge whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to administer a field sobriety test, breath test, or blood test.
  • Your attorney can challenge the procedures used by the officer in determining your intoxication and whether they were correctly administered.
  • If you are ultimately convicted of a DWI, your attorney can help get your penalties reduced, included fines and jail time.

If you’ve been charged with a DWI, hiring a lawyer to help you fight your case can tremendously improve the outcome. A vigorous defense can mean the difference between wining and losing your case. To find out how Scheiner Law Group can help you fight your DWI case, reach out to us today.

What Getting an Underage DUI in Houston Means

What Defines Underage DUI in Texas?

If you are driving in the state of Texas and are under the age of 21, an officer who pulls you over and even so much as smells alcohol on your breath can charge you with underage DUI. Because it is against the law to drink under the age of 21, the state of Texas has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. Texas laws state that any minor who has “any detectable amount of alcohol in his/her system” while driving a motor vehicle can be charged with DUI.

If this happens to you, it is important that you take it seriously, as this charge can have long-lasting and serious effects on your life.

The Zero Tolerance Law in Texas Isn’t Set at ZeroWhat Getting an Underage DUI in Houston Means

The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 mandated that all states set the limit at 0.02% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels for drivers under the age of 21 in order to receive Federal Aid Highway Funds. Some states decided to go even further and set the limit at 0.00%. However, Texas kept the 0.02% limit, which means that if you were charged in Texas with an underage DUI based on a 0.00% standard rather than 0.02%, it was not in line with state laws. If this is the case, you will need a good DUI attorney in Houston to fight these false charges for you.

Penalties for Underage DUI

Underage DUI in Texas is considered a Class C misdemeanor. While the arrest of a minor for DUI is similar to that of an adult, sentencing for a minor charged with DUI can be much different than for an adult. It’s important to understand these differences and realize how crucial it is to hire an effective DUI attorney in Houston that has a great track record in DUI cases.

The penalties for an Underage DUI in Texas are slightly different than those for an adult DUI. A driver under 21 years of age is legally considered a “minor,” which means you will not receive jail time and the penalties will not be as severe as those for an adult. However, the consequences are still severe and long-lasting. If convicted, the offense will remain on your record permanently, affecting your life for years to come, including the ability to acquire higher education, gainful employment, and professional licensing.

Penalties for underage DUI in Texas can include the following:
•    A fine of up to $500
•    Probation
•    Community service
•    Alcohol awareness classes
•    Suspended driver’s license for 30 days for a first offense
•    Suspended driver’s license for 60 days for a second offense
•    Suspended driver’s license for 180 days for a third offense
•    Permanent criminal offense on record

Keep in mind that other possible contributing factors, such as high BAC levels or injuries due to your actions, may affect what penalties you receive.

In addition to these penalties, you will be responsible to pay any fines, court costs, probation fees, and legal fees that are associated with your hearings and consequences.

What To Do if Charged with Underage DUI in Texas

Unfortunately, officers do make mistakes and sometimes file false charges. Sometimes the instruments that measure BAC fail and false readings are submitted. You certainly don’t want to get a charge on your permanent record that you don’t deserve. We at Scheiner Law Group can review your case and fight to keep your record clean, as well as restore your life to normal after a false underage DUI charge has been made against you.

If your charges are not the result of a false accusation or nonworking equipment, we still believe that you deserve a second chance. In some cases, young people who are otherwise upstanding citizens use bad judgment and get behind the wheel of a vehicle after a sip or two of an alcoholic beverage. Regardless of your situation, we will fight for you. Because a DUI can become a permanent part of your record and can have long-term negative effects on your life, the attorneys at Scheiner Law would like the opportunity to defend you against all underage DUI charges and help you avoid the many negative consequences that may affect your otherwise bright future.

No matter the situation, you will want to have a competent Houston DUI lawyer going to bat for you. Give Scheiner Law Group a call today so we can begin our job of defending you and your future!

How to Deal with an Out of State DWI in Houston

Have You Been Charged with a DWI While Traveling in another State?

Taking a vacation and traveling out of state can be a wonderful adventure. But if something unexpected and difficult happens, like being arrested and charged with a DWI, you need all the help you can get from experienced DWI lawyers in your home state of Texas. Here at Scheiner Law Group, we can usually find you a lawyer outside of Texas to assist you in a DWI, DUI, OWI or OUI case. We are a team of experienced Houston attorneys who have helped many individuals get DWI charges dropped and get their driving record clean. It’s best if you contact us immediately so we can get to work on your case as soon as possible to help you avoid any negative short-term or long-term consequences.

How to Deal with an Out of State DWI in Houston

Out-of-State DWI Charges

DWI charges exist in every state and apply to all drivers, both in-state residents and out-of-state visitors. Due to Congressional highway funds, the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels is the same in every state. However, the charges for exceeding that limit differ from state to state. Some drivers assume that a DWI arrest in one state will have no impact on a previous of future DWI arrest in another state, but this is not the case. You are not off the hook in your own state if you get a DWI in another.

Your Driver’s License and Possible Suspension

There are two reasons a state may suspend your driver’s license before your case goes to court: if your BAC was over the legal limit or you refused a test. If this happens, you have a limited time to appeal the suspension of your license, with the amount of time varying from state to state. In Texas, you generally have 15 days to ask for an administrative hearing to retain your driver’s license. If you fail to get a hearing, the suspension of your license could be final and may then be reported to other states.

The First Step to Take

The first and most important step is to hire a qualified DWI lawyer in Texas. At the point of your arrest or shortly after, crucial deadlines will be put into place, so time is of the essence. A competent DWI attorney can walk you through this process, which can be overwhelming from the start.

Why Scheiner Law Group is Your Best Chance

Scheiner Law Group has many years of experience as a Houston DWI law firm. We fight to keep your record clean and to restore your life to normal after a DWI charge, whether it takes place in Texas or another state. Because a DWI can become a permanent part of your record, it can have long-term negative effects on your life, including being accepted into some colleges or universities and being hired for certain jobs. We would like the opportunity to defend you against all DWI charges and help you avoid the many negative consequences that can occur both now and in the future.

Texas DWI Cheat Sheet

Texas DWI Cheat Sheet

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States. There’s a near-limitless list of things to do in the metro area – and that includes bars, clubs and other drinking establishments. If you’re enjoying a night out on the town, it’s helpful to know the answer to the question: “How much is too much?”

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a designated driver on hand. But sometimes you’re the driver, and you’ve already had a drink. Is it safe to drive home? Could you actually have another drink without significantly impairing your ability to operate a vehicle? These are valid questions, with potentially serious consequences. With that in mind, Scheiner Law Group, Houston’s premier criminal defense and DWI attorneys, offers this handy guide to set the record straight.

If you need help with a possible DWI case, ask for a lawyer. The Scheiner Law Group specializes in Houston DWIs and DUIs. We’ve successfully dismissed many would-be cases in Houston and the surrounding areas.

For more information, please visit the Scheiner Law Group’s web articles about your right of refusal and other tips & tricks.

Get Help Now:

Call (713) 807-9700 or visit scheinerlaw.com.

For emergencies and non-business hours, call or text DWI Attorney Grant Scheiner at (713) 581-4540.

Español: (713) 226-9393.

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