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Mandatory Breath Testing Is a Test of Civil Liberties

Mandatory Breath Testing Is a Test of Civil Liberties Some would say that we already have mandatory breath testing in Texas, since your license can be suspended if you refuse to take a breath test once arrested for DWI.  In reality, we don’t, but it’s not for lack of trying.  There have been attempts to criminalize the refusal of a specimen test.  Doing so creates a slippery slope.  In Canada, the same situation is occurring and the following article presents some strong points.   Mandatory breath testing is an extraordinary police power Drunk driving is a real issue that we should all be concerned about. But we should be equally concerned about handing over drastic new powers to police.   By ROB DE LUCA Wed., Oct. 4, 2017   One of the cornerstones of the government’s efforts to legalize marijuana is a bill intended to provide Canada with some of the strictest impaired-driving laws in the world. Remarkably, the most significant provision in Bill C-46, the government’s new impaired driving legislation, has nothing to do with marijuana legalization at all. Bill C-46 would remove the current requirement — a critical limit to police powers — that police have a reasonable suspicion a driver has been drinking alcohol before demanding a breath sample. Under the new provision, any lawful police stop of a vehicle, no matter how trivial, would be sufficient cause to demand that a driver blow into a breathalyzer. License, registration, and blow. Even more remarkable, however, is the government’s decision to introduce such an intrusive police power at a time when police services are struggling to address...

Is Sleep Driving Equal to DWI?

IS SLEEP DRIVING EQUAL TO DWI?   I have handled a number of people in the past who were on Ambien or the like and didn’t have control of their faculties but were “sleep driving” and got arrested for DWI because it was medication that made them do it or whatever the argument was.  I haven’t seen one of these cases in years. I hope that people have taken the advice and put the keys away when taking this medication.  I had also heard of people sleep eating and gaining weight while on the drug and they had no idea what was happening. In Texas, whether you know or not is not at issue.  State of mind is not an element of DWI, so you don’t have to knowingly or intentionally drive while intoxicated (DWI).  But what if you weren’t on medication?  People have sleepwalked without medication, so it’s not out of the realm that someone could sleep drive, is it? Such a case happened recently and, thankfully, the driver was not found criminally responsible.  Sometimes things happen.  Sometimes bad things happen, and I will say that I wouldn’t want to be around a “sleep driver.”  But not everything is a crime, and even things that could, on a reach, be construed as a crime don’t always need to be prosecuted.  Just because you can prosecute, doesn’t mean you should.  Justice can also be served without a prosecution.  The story of the sleep driver is below and the article can also be found here. Sleep-driving woman ‘not criminally responsible’ for drunk-driving charge A Hamilton court has found a woman...

Is the Political Climate Fueling Divorces?

Is The Political Climate Fueling Divorces? Sharing this article from FITS.  I know of a great number of people that have changed their relationship with others on social media due to the events leading up to and resulting from the last election, but I really haven’t heard of it fueling divorces.  I tend to think in this day and age it is harder to be married from someone with a differing political viewpoint, but this isn’t a normal time and people do change/evolve.  That is much of the reason why divorce occurs.   Is America’s Toxic Political Discourse Fueling Divorces? We’ve written previously on the “all in” problem in American politics – in which partisans of diverse ideological inclination have become rigidly inflexible in their worldview (and righteously impertinent in their tone). The latter we don’t really care about all that much … people’s tone is more a product of their personality than anything else.  And the last thing we want to do is tell people to lower their voices.  We come from the “stop whispering, start shouting” school of political engagement – because in most cases that’s the only way to be heard. Our concern is rather over people who have become incapable of being convinced – even when the truth of an issue is staring them in the face. Willful blindness, so to speak … But is the increasingly contentious political debate in this country seeping into other areas of our interpersonal interactions? Yes, according to a recent survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).   Forty-one percent of AAML members reported that the current political...

A Problem with No Fault Divorce

Here is a divorce (or no divorce) story from the UK which has relevance here as there is a bill before the Texas legislature to remove “no fault” divorce in Texas, which I’ll blog about later.  But here is what could be the case if the sponsor of the bill gets his way: Woman ‘trapped in loveless marriage’ after judges refuse divorce Unusual ruling by court of appeal in case of 40-year marriage prompts call for parliament to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce- A woman says she has been left trapped in a “loveless and desperately unhappy” marriage after senior judges refused to allow her to divorce her husband of 40 years on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. The highly unusual ruling by the court of appeal triggered calls from divorce lawyers for parliament to introduce “no fault” divorce and warnings that the decision would force separating couples to make more aggressive allegations to justify marital breakdown. Tini Owens, 66, who lives in Worcestershire, had applied to overturn a ruling by the family court that her marriage to her 78-year-old husband, Hugh, who is a retired mushroom farmer, had not broken down irretrievably despite her having an affair. Her husband opposed her application, denying the allegations made against him. He told the hearing – held on Valentine’s Day – that he did not want to get divorced because they still had a “few years” left to enjoy. One of the three appeal court judges, Lady Justice Hallett, said she had reached her conclusion “with no enthusiasm whatsoever”, adding: “It is for parliament to decide whether to amend [the law] and to introduce ‘no...

Is Your Spouse Thinking About Divorce?

January is a busy month for divorce attorneys.  Some want to see if they can make it through the holidays, some are waiting for that Christmas or year-end bonus to kick in.  Some just want a change in the new year.  The following is from Bravo Blog and sums up the situation. If Your Spouse Is Considering Divorce, They Are (Secretly) Doing This First January is “considering my options” month, says one famous divorce lawyer. While they’re trying to keep up with their New Year’s resolutions, hitting the gym and eating salads, many are also (secretly) visiting a divorce lawyer’s office to see if they want to proceed with a split—and often their partner never finds out. It’s called “considering my options month.” Just because you’re not divorced, doesn’t mean they weren’t looking into it. Top New York divorce lawyer, Jacqueline Newman, managing partner of Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, LLP, says there is a massive spike in divorce inquiries during January. That’s when one half of a couple gathers information on what a divorce would look like- without having discussed it with their partner. There are two reasons January is the time people are snooping around to find how how much a split is going to cost them and how long it will take to finalize. “The spike follows the stressful December holidays. Couples often consider divorce an off-limits holiday topic,” Jacqueline says. But New Year/ new beginnings and stress-exposed fractures in the relationship coincide in January.” Following January, actual divorce filings will spike in February when decision/plan/lawyer are in place. “In my experience I’ve seen in January people want to start...

5 Topics You Need To Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer

5 Topics You Need To Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer Great article from Huffington.  In Texas, spousal support is rare, but support to children is not, and we do need to discover if spousal support is possible.  I love articles like this that divorce clients and potential divorce clients can read and see a road map to an initial family law attorney meeting. 5 Topics You Need to Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer By Vikki Ziegler When clients first contact me, they are often highly emotional, and understandably so. Divorce is complicated. Whether they arrived at their decision after months or years of thought or found themselves forced into the process after discovering their spouse was cheating, time and time again I watch them grapple to make sense of the life change they face. Compounding their struggle are the financial and legal issues involved in dividing marital property. To advocate on my clients’ behalf and negotiate the best possible settlement for them, it is important that I have a full understanding of their financial picture as well as their short-term and long-term goals early on in the process. Though it may mean some forethought and legwork for clients at the outset, their investment will pay off, resulting in less billable hours and a comprehensive agreement that protects them now and in the future. As you prepare to meet with your divorce lawyer, here are five areas on which to focus. 1. Property. Marital property refers to any property the couple acquired during the marriage. It can include but is not limited to the marital home, cars, furniture, jewelry, furs, and...

What are Bond Conditions and Do I Have to Obey Them?

What are Bond Conditions and Do I Have to Obey Them?   Before defining what bond conditions are, let me go ahead and say “Yes, you have to obey them,” so it will begin to sink in.  Bond conditions are the tiny things you must or must not do while you are out on bond.  If you do not obey your bond conditions, you could be sent to jail until your case is resolved. What are some of these things you ask?  Let’s take a DWI case for example.  It would not be uncommon to have a bond condition to not drink alcohol or have a monitor placed on yourself or vehicle if your blood alcohol content was high or you have a prior DWI arrest or DWI conviction (I had a client with no prior convictions but 3 DWI arrests within 2 months – judge placed interlock on his car).  Also, commit no new offenses.  That means if you get arrested again, the judge will revoke your bond.  S/he will probably grant you a new bond but in Tarrant county, they will usually double the old bond.  Not following the judge’s conditions can cause problems. If you get caught drinking or violate the ignition interlock, you might go to jail for a weekend while your case is still pending.  If we need a favor from the judge in a plea deal, your actions in violating a bond condition could have an effect on the outcome of such a request.  Basically, when you get arrested, and are out on bond, lead a quiet existence until the mess is over....

A Brief History of Divorce

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DIVORCE   With the debut of HBO’s new show DIVORCE, the topic of divorce is coming up in the national media.  Time magazine posted this article (reprinted below) and you can find other relevant pieces throughout the internet.  One thing I found surprising about the article is the rise of divorce in the 19th century.  My parents divorced in the 1970s and they seemed like pioneers at the time.  As a lawyer I found out the State Bar of Texas did not even have a family law section when the 1970s began.  Family law was not a specialty. I thought it was in the 1980s with L.A. Law and divorce specialist Arnie Becker was a top producer at the drama’s firm. If you are going through divorce and I would have no recommendation on the new show DIVORCE.   I saw a news video with a group of females.  Two were married, one single, the other divorced.  The divorced woman found the most humor in the show.  Alas, it has only been one episode so that is also why I hesitate  to give an opinion.  But, it has brought us the divorce history below. A Brief History of Divorce in America: From Legal Rarity to Dark Comedy Ashley Ross The legal concept of “irreconcilable differences” dates to 1969 Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to television on HBO’s Divorce follows the story of a woman as she uproots her life with the hope that liberation from a 17-year marriage will solve all her problems. The series not only sheds light on divorce, it makes light of it, too. But the history has not been kind...

Changing Social Attitudes on Divorce

Changing Social Attitudes on Divorce   Great article from the Huffington Post on the attitudes on divorce for one recently divorced author. Everyone does seem to take a position akin to a funeral at the end of a marriage.  There was a book titled “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.”  We lament what once was, but one is in this position because it is no more.  Perhaps the author, Galina Nemirovsky, is correct in that we should take a more celebratory tone.  An old friend of mine has been doing just that on social media after her divorce and I, for one , have enjoyed reading her posts and her sheer delight at her new life and the doors that have opened.  The article is posted below or view it here.   THE BLOG I’m Part of the Divorce Welcoming Committee 09/12/2016 09:10 pm ET | Updated 13 hours ago Galina Nemirovsky Writer and Blogger; Join in my discovery of Life Clubs, my 365 Project @HeartsEverywhere.com When I was getting divorced, no one told me, “Congratulations!” or “Good job!” Instead, they frowned, rubbed my shoulders and wanted to cry. Only, I was euphoric; I was liberated from my controlling husband and it wasn’t easy taking the final steps to leave. Getting divorced takes courage and strength and whether you’re the initiator or the receiver, you’re both victims who feel like the rug has been violently pulled out from underneath you, left free falling into a black hole. Pursuing happiness isn’t always easy and often involves jumping over some messy and complicated hurdles such as hurting someone I once...

Uber Departure Does Lead to More DWI’s in Austin

Uber Departure Does Lead to More DWI’s in Austin   It had been speculated and the early returns did not show the anticipated result,  but the bigger picture is starting to indicate that the ride sharing services of Uber and Lyft did affect the number of DWI arrests in Austin.  In a previous post, I discussed the departure of the companies from Austin after the city wanted more regulation.  An argument for the programs to remain was the impact they had in DWI arrests.  Many thought this was a smoke screen and invalid, but the numbers in May don’t lie. From May 9 – May 31 2016, Austin had 359 DWI arrests, up from 334 the previous year, which is an increase of 7.5%.  That’s about 8 per week.  Over a year, that is over 400 DWI’s that may have been prevented with alternative transportation.  The number is big.  The city of Austin needs to rethink it’s stance and work with Uber and Lyft to get the services back on the road and potential DWI’s off of it. Below is the article from KEYE: DWI arrests have spiked since Uber and Lyft left Austin. The Austin Police Department released new numbers to KEYE TV that show there were 359 DWI arrests from May 9, the day Uber and Lyft shut down, to May 31st of this year. Last year during the same time period, there were 334 arrests. That’s a 7.5 percent increase in the weeks following their departure. “It’s an everyday pain that you live with,” said Deborah Tatum. Tatum wishes for one more day with her son...