Austin’s Ordinance Banning “Driving With Hand-Held Electronics” Takes Effect January 1, 2015

In Austin, it will soon be a violation of city ordinance to use hand-held electronic devices while driving or cycling. Distracted driving is a legitimate concern but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to give police officers yet another means to have “reasonable suspicion” for stopping drivers who aren’t actually violating any traffic laws. It’s still perfectly legal to eat, smoke and adjust the radio while driving, after all.

Remembering 9/11

‎9/11 was a double tragedy. Beyond the obvious tragedy of lost lives, it was the beginning of a steady erosion of our system of constitutional rights. Benjamin Franklin said that he who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither. 

Growing up, I could never have imagined that the people of our nation would one day tolerate being groped as a “security” measure to ride an airplane. Nor would I have believed that our police would one day be allowed to forcibly draw blood from any person who asserts his constitutional right to refuse to provide evidence against himself. That still sounds like something out of a novel set in Eastern Europe to me but it’s happening routinely in DWI investigations right here in Austin, Texas.

If the terrorists really hate us “for our freedom” and our way of life then they’ve won a significant victory.

APD’s new “No Refusal” policy.

I just heard through the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association grapevine that APD has now gone to a practice of “No Refusals” all the time for DWI investigation. Apparently, this change in policy was NOT accompanied by an announcement in the media so if you’re in Austin, you might want to pass this along to your friends.

Statewide warrant roundup begins Feb. 25

If you have any outstanding warrants in Texas, now’s the time to take care of them. A statewide warrant roundup begins Feb. 25

FYI, Austin Municipal Court has a no-arrest policy for those who go in to take care of business. For higher level offenses, which are prosecuted in the county and district courts, an attorney can usually arrange a walk-through to clear the warrant. 

To check for warrants in Travis County, 
check w/ APD and check with the Travis County Sheriff.

New criminal court judges take the bench.

The Travis County criminal courts have several new judges that just took the bench:

147th – Judge David Crain
299th – Judge Karen Sage
331st – Judge Cliff Brown
CC3 – Judge John Lipscombe
CC6 – Judge Brandy Mueller

The swearing-in ceremonies are this afternoon for District Court judges and tomorrow afternoon for County Court at Law judges. Here’s more information from an email sent to Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association members by Attorney Dan Dworin:

Monday, January 3

Swearing-In Ceremony for New Criminal District Court Judges

Please join us for the Investiture Ceremony and Reception for New Criminal District Court Judges.

The Honorable Cliff Brown, 147th District Court
The Honorable Karen Sage, 299th District Court
The Honorable David Crain, 331st District Court

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, 250th District Courtroom, 3rd Floor

= = =

Tuesday, January 4

Swearing-In Ceremony for New County Court at Law Judges

You are invited to attend the Investiture Ceremony and Reception for New County Court at Law Judges.

The Honorable John Lipscombe, County Court at Law #3
The Honorable Brandy Borich Mueller, County Court at Law #6

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, 250th District Courtroom, 3rd Floor

No-Refusal New Year’s

I’ve been too busy with the purchase and renovation of my new family home to blog much lately but thought I should at least pass on this information about APD’s latest no-refusal event :

People suspected of drunken driving on New Year’s Eve will have their
blood tested under a search warrant if they refuse to give a breath or
blood specimen, Austin police announced today. The “no refusal”
initiative will run from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday.

AquaPalooza and Boating While Intoxicated

7/13/10 Update. More AquaPalooza = more arrests…

Reading the arrest results for this weekend’s so-called AquaPalooza , it occurred to me to mention a couple of things that some folks don’t know…

First there IS such a thing as boating while intoxicated. I’ve had people laugh like I’m telling a joke on a couple of occasions that I’ve mentioned it in a casual setting. But no, I’m serious folks. Furthermore, drinking and boating is actually riskier than DWI from a criminal liability perspective because the police do NOT need a reason to stop a boat. That’s right, whenyou’re in a boat, the police can demand you stop, board the boat, and conduct an inspection justbecause they feel like it.

No-Refusal Fourth of July Weekend

APD has announced that this weekend will be no-refusal beginning at 9 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday July 3 and continuing to Sunday July 4
at 5 a.m. During this time, if you are pulled over and investigated for Driving While Intoxicated, if you refuse to take the breath test, the police will get a warrant to have your blood tested.

Take a cab, folks. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than fighting a DWI conviction, even if you ultimately win.

Warrant Roundup Begins Saturday


Law enforcement agencies from more than 250 agencies across Texas will begin making arrests Saturday, March 6, as part of the Great Texas Warrant Roundup. This major, multi-jurisdictional push kicked off Feb. 19 with the mailing of thousands of notices warning people with outstanding warrants of the impending arrest effort. The last day to clear warrants is Friday, March 5, before the concentrated effort to make arrests begins.

For more information, including online payment instructions, see this Statesman article.

Also worthy of note is that Austin Municipal Court’s policy is to not arrest people with active warrants who go there to take care of business.

No Refusal Mardi Gras

APD has announced “No Refusal” Mardi Gras here in Austin this Saturday (2/13/10) and Tuesday (2/16/10) from 9 p.m. on each day to 5 a.m. the following morning. That means that the police will seek blood warrants for people who are stopped and investigated for DWI and refuse to submit to a breath test. For more information see this Statesman article.

2/15/10 Update. 21 people were arrested in the first leg of No-Refusal Mardi Gras. Of those, 7 consented to breath tests and 14 were subjected to blood warrant testing. See this Statesman article for more.  Remember, the second leg is coming up this Tuesday evening.

2/19/10 Update.  20 people were arrested during the Fat Tuesday portion of No-Refusal Mardi Gras. That figure includes 4 voluntary breath tests and 16 blood warrants. See this Statesman article for more.