A few months ago, I wrote a post about stoplight cameras popping up at intersections in Austin. Since that time, the intersection cameras have also been installed in many other Texas cities, and in many other cities nationwide. For those out of the loop, these are cameras that are installed at intersections, and the cameras can take photos of cars running red lights or committing other traffic offenses. It allows cities to generate ticket offenses without having to pay a police officer.
Earlier this fall, Austin Police Chief Acevedo testified before the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee in support of a proposed new law for "Driving While Ability Impaired." The new law would make it a criminal offense to drive with a blood alcohol level of .05 or more, but less than the existing .08 limit that applies to DWI cases. Acevedo stated, "A person may be intoxicated at 0.05, and you don't want them out driving."
I guess you could put this under the "Philosophy" category of posts. It's admittedly a fluff piece but the idea arose from actual events today, so hopefully it's mildly relevant or entertaining. Maybe relevant or mildly entertaining.
YES! Sorry this is such a simple post, but I sometimes get surprised talking to people at what they don't know about police stops. I want you to think about this- if you and a friend were pulled over, and an officer saw something illegal in the car, do you not think they could separate you and then tell each of you, "well your buddy over there just said it was all yours" or "look, the more honest with me you are, the easier this will go on you?" This is the police doing their job, getting you to give them free information while you are not yet in custody. And regardless of how you feel about police lying to get information, it is A-OK in the eyes of the law.
There are many offenses which require a person to register as a sex offender if convicted. Without going into detail, most of them are sexual offenses you would consider obvious. On the other hand, some charges labeled as sex crimes are not situations where you would consider the person deviant or dangerous at all. In either situation, sex offender registration can be a serious burden, making simple things like finding a place to live or finding a job nearly impossible. There are websites that will list sex offenders' names and addresses, and in today's internet age, there is almost no way to escape scrutiny. There is even a Sex Offender Tracker App for your Droid or iPhone. (OK, the video is pretty misleading, but it is funny, and don't think the technology is too far from reality.)
Travis County Warrants are like that alley cat you used to feed at your college apartment. They just never really go away. Sometimes it's a hot check you wrote by accident, or a ticket you never paid off. Just as often it's failure to pay surcharges for some ticket or small offense that you may never have known about because your address has changed. Even if you don't think you have a Travis County warrant, it never hurts to check just to be sure.
In honor of Halloween Weekend, the Austin Police Department has again issued a "no refusal" designation for people stopped for suspicion of DWI. Take a look at the APD No-Refusal for Halloween Weekend Press Release for more details.
Should you be able to use deadly force in response to non-deadly force? Generally speaking, the answer under Texas law is no. One of the requirements for using deadly force to be justified is that it is in response to another's use or attempted use of deadly force.
Wow, so this decision has quietly just slipped by under the radar (or maybe I'm just foolish enough to believe it isn't already smeared across the blogosphere). The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, not known for being defense friendly, has taken a close look at dog-sniff evidence. Turns out they didn't like it so much. In a September 22, 2010 opinion, the CCA reversed the Court of Appeals and overturned a murder conviction and Richard Lynn Winfrey's 75 year prison sentence. The CCA ruled that while dog-scent evidence may be admissible, it alone will not support a conviction. Winfrey's conviction was based almost solely on a dog-sniff lineup, and the CCA took the opportunity to research current studies and publications on the subject. The opinion is in many respects a breath of fresh air.