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November 2015 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Could I Lose My Children Because of a DWI?

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Lose Children because of a DWI?

When someone is charged with DWI/DUI and they are going through a custody battle, a major concern is whether a DWI conviction will impact their ability to keep their children. This is a legitimate concern since a DWI conviction can impact a court’s assessment of your ability to care for your children. A DUI conviction can affect everything from visitation rights to whether one parent is granted sole custody of the children. That is why it is imperative that you contact a Austin DWI Lawyer as quickly as possible.

The Timing of the DWI/DUI Charge is Important

If you were charged with a DWI/DUI recently, it will be a major red flag for a family court judge in considering who gets custody of your children. In Texas, if you are convicted of a DUI, even for a first offense, you could be looking at a jail sentence between 3 days to 180 days. If you have prior DUI convictions on your record, the jail sentence will likely be even longer. If you are in the midst of a custody battle and you wind up in jail for a DUI, a judge will be forced to take the conviction into consideration in deciding whether to even award visitation rights to you.

A major factor in custody disputes is the prevailing legal standard judges apply in determining custody – the best interests of the child. A judge may determine that a parent with a recent DWI/DWI conviction on their record is an indication that the individual is irresponsible and incapable of properly caring for a minor or an inability to keep their child safe.

If your DUI conviction occurred many years ago with no other charges since then, the impact of the conviction will likely be minor.

Loss of Custody and Visitation Rights is a Real Risk

When a DUI conviction was recent, the non-DUI spouse can attempt to seek sole custody by requesting a sole managing conservatorship. The non-DUI spouses would likely argue, as mentioned above, that you cannot provide a safe or stable environment for the children due to your criminal record. Losing custody has major ramifications in the role you can play in your children’s lives. A parent with sole managing conservatorship is empowered to make all decisions on behalf of the children. They do not have to consult you on any decision. You may even be denied visitation rights on the basis that you are unable to provide safe transportation for the children.

Speak to an Experienced Austin DWI Lawyer

As you can see, a DWI/DUI conviction can have a major impact on your life and the lives of your children. That is why you need to do everything in your power to fight the charges. Just because you were charged does not mean you will automatically be found guilty. Let an experienced, aggressive Austin DWI/DUI defense lawyer advocate for you. The police officer who pulled you over may not have had sufficient probable cause to even initiate the stop. And, remember, the burden is on the state to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a very standard which must be met. Contact The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford today. We are here to help.

How Many Is Too Many? Severe Penalties For Too Many DWIs

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Five Questions for Your DWI Attorney

A 54-year-old man in Round Rock, Texas was sentenced to life in prison after his ninth DWI conviction, according to ABC News. And this may sound truly astounding – this man had 8 prior DWI convictions on his record, along with a host of other convictions for burglary, credit card abuse, providing alcohol to minors, and more.

The ninth DWI charge was the proverbial breaking point for the Texas judge who sentenced the Round Rock resident. This individual had a blood alcohol concentration of .32, four times the legal limit in Texas.

A life sentence is not uncommon in Texas for people with a disturbingly high number of DWI convictions. A 64-year-old man living in Montgomery County was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of his 10th DWI, according to the Houston Chronicle.

These are some extreme examples of just how severe the punishment can be for multiple DWI convictions. Clearly, there were some extenuating circumstances surrounding these individuals to give the judges a basis for sentencing them to life in prison. The shockingly high number of DWI convictions is bad, but the extensive rap sheet of both individuals probably played a role in the sentence. As mentioned, the Round Rock resident was convicted of numerous other crimes and the Montgomery County resident also threatened to kill a police officer.

Multiple DWI Convictions Resulting in Ever-Escalating Punishments

If you are convicted of a second DWI, you are likely looking at a punishment including:

  • Serving a jail sentence of up to one year;
  • A monetary fine of up to $4,000;
  • Having your driver’s license suspended for up to two years; and
  • Having to pay an annual fine of up to $1,500 for three years just to maintain your driving privileges.

Along with the above-referenced punishments, you will likely see a dramatic spike in your auto insurance premiums, or you may even be denied auto insurance and forced to pay into a “high risk” insurance pool along with other convicted drivers (this type of insurance is not cheap). You will also have to list your convictions on any employment application, college application, rental application, etc.

If you are convicted of a third DWI, you enter a new realm of punishment. In Texas, a third DWI conviction is a felony. This means you are probably looking at a punishment including:

  • Serving at least 2 years in prison, but the sentence could be as long as 10 years;
  • Paying a monetary fine of up to $10,000;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years;
  • Having to pay an annual fine of up to $2,000 for three years to keep your driving privileges; and
  • Having an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle.

If you have more than three DWI convictions on your record, the punishments only get worse and will likely include a multi-year prison sentence, loss of driving privileges, and huge monetary fines.

Contact an Experienced Austin DWI Attorney Today

As you can see, a DWI conviction can have major ramifications in your life. If you or a loved one was charged with driving while intoxicated in the Austin area, let the experienced DWI defense attorneys at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford help. All of our lawyers are Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Five Questions for Your DWI Attorney

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Five Questions for Your DWI Attorney

DWI charges are serious and can result in serious consequences if a conviction is secured. Once you hire a Austin DWI attorney, it is important that you maintain an open line of communication, so that you will feel part of the defense process and your attorney will have all necessary information. Help to foster this professional relationship by asking your attorney these five questions.

Should I Fight the Case?

Every case is different and there are rare instances when fighting a DWI charge is not in your best interest. Depending on the complexities of the case, the entire legal process can take months, and result in substantial legal fees. Your attorney may advise you to plead guilty and accept a fine. In this instance, your attorney can still assist you with negotiating a plea bargain with the state or advocating for lenient punishments.

At the other end of the spectrum are cases that are filled with procedural mistakes and hefty conviction consequences. In these situations, your attorney may advise that you aggressively fight the DWI charge. The cost of fighting the case can prove easier to handle than possible imprisonment, loss of driving privileges, and possible loss of employment that sometimes accompany a DWI conviction.

Can I Fight the License Suspension?

Under Texas law, your license can be suspended for up to two years following a DWI conviction. In cases of repeat convictions of failure to complete court ordered conditions, the state may even revoke your license. Your license suspension may also stem from a refusal to take an alcohol breath test at the time of arrest. When you obtained a Texas driver’s license, you agreed to take an alcohol breath or blood test upon any arrest for DWI. A refusal results in an Administrative License Suspension for a period up to 180 days.

Suspension of driving privileges can cause a major headache in your day-to-day routine, leaving you unable to get to work, go to the grocery store or even pick your kids up from school. Ask your attorney about ways to fight the suspension, or at least gain restricted privileges to drive under specific circumstances.

Are there Grounds for a Motion to Suppress?

Successful prosecution of a DWI charge requires that the state present an adequate amount of evidence to the court. Sometimes, the evidence in question was obtained illegally or in violation of your Constitutional rights. Upon reviewing the state’s evidence, your attorney can determine if there are grounds to keep one or multiple pieces of evidence out of the court record. If the motion is successful, it can ultimately lead to a not-guilty verdict or even dismissal of the charges prior to court.

Were the State’s Breath Test Rules Followed by Law Enforcement?

If you consented to a breath or blood test and the results are being used against you by the prosecution, speak with your attorney in depth about the events of the arrest and what was told to you during the process. Ask your attorney to review your version of events and the results of the breath or blood test to determine if all required rules and guidelines were followed by law enforcement agents. For example, your attorney may question whether the testing machine was properly calibrated or whether your consumption of food prior to the test may have influenced the results. If they were not, you may have grounds to suppress the test results.

Could my Health Issues Have Contributed to the Signs of Intoxication?

If you are a person with significant medical problems, be sure to tell your attorney about them. Allergies, physical conditions, and lack of sleep can all mistakenly present as indicators of intoxication. In addition, certain medications may lead to an inaccurate breath test result. Keep your attorney well informed, so he or she can properly advocate for you.

If you are facing DWI charges, secure an attorney who will give you an honest and accurate consultation about the merits of your case. Call The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford at (512) 476-4444. Our Austin DWI attorneys are ready and able to answer your questions without judgment. Contact the office today for a professional consultation.