Houston DWI Defense
Houston DWI Lawyer
If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or other alcohol related offenses in Texas, contact attorney Mark Thiessen at 713-864-9000 or request a free case evaluation. Mark is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ease your concerns and protect your freedom.
Trial Tested DWI/DUI Lawyer in Harris County
Mark is an experienced, knowledgeable DWI Attorney in Harris County and you need the best drunk driving lawyer Houston and Harris County has to offer. You won’t find a more aggressive Houston criminal defense attorney to defend your DWI/DUI case or other alcohol related offenses, or one with a better success rate than Mark Thiessen of the Thiessen Law Firm.
Too many attorneys falsely represent themselves as having expertise in the intricacies of DWI/DUI law, but our firm actually practices what we preach: In a driving while intoxicated (DWI)trial, we dissect DWIs with scientific precision because, though we practice all criminal law and alcohol related offenses, we are trained in and specifically emphasize driving while intoxicated (DWI) defense. We actually have the expertise that you need to get the best DWI representation possible.
Were you arrested and charged with DWI in Texas?
If so, you have some prompt deadlines approaching in order to save your Texas state drivers license. First, if you have not been bailed out, call Burns Bail Bonds at 713-224-0305. Then, once you are rested, give Thiessen a call at 713-864-9000 to set up a free DWI case consultation. Mark Thiessen will meet you anytime he is not in trial or in court, even on the weekends.
Back to Your DWI Case
First, we need to see what court you landed in. The particular court tells us a lot about how the judge operates, who the prosecutors are and what chance this case has of getting dismissed. Some courts have unreasonable prosecutors who refuse dismissal and we must go to trial.
On a side note, some lawyers will tell their clients that everything will be okay or dismissed at the initial consultation. That is simply malpractice. At this point in the case, they do not know enough to make such a statement and are just giving you a false sense of security. At Thiessen Law Firm, we are honest with you from the very beginning. We will need these things:
We will get the Offense Report at the first court date and sit down with you and show you the contents. There are many ways around a DWI conviction. Why were you pulled over? Is that reason consistent with the current case law? Next, who is the officer? Is he DPS or a DWI Task Force Officer or is he an inexperienced patrolman who is going to crumble on the stand? What Standard Field Sobriety Tests did you perform? Did you have any prior mental or physical injuries?
We will request the video of the arrest. It is up to the officer to turn in the video tape, if there is one. If there is not a video, we will subpoena his patrol vehicle’s maintenance records and figure out why there was not. If there is a video, we will watch it and ask that you do as well. Then, together, we can discuss the pros and cons of contesting what is on the video. Are we able to suppress the video? Usually not. But we can suppress portions if they violate the law.
We will also secure the station video and see how you looked when you were booked at the station. Again, we will discuss the pros and cons of using this video and weigh out our options.
Breath Test Score
Only about 5% of attorneys are capable of trying a breath test case with a chance of winning. Mark Thiessen is trial tested and proven. In fact, he speaks to other lawyers at national seminars on how to beat high breath test scores without the use of an expert. And since he’s also an honest lawyer, you must know that he will need a good video to beat a high breath test. If you had a low breath test, Mark Thiessen can usually educate the jury on all of the problems with the breathalyzer machine and the acceptable ranges of error in order to explain the reading. The Intoxilyzer 500EN is outdated and in need of replacement. Many states have already abandoned the machine and moved on the better or newer models. At Thiessen Law Firm, we keep extensive breath test records on all breath test machines.
Blood Test Results
Less than 1% of criminal attorneys can win a blood test trial with the blood being admitted into evidence. Mark Thiessen has won three blood test trials where the blood comes in to evidence and the jury returns a verdict of Not Guilty (.022, 0.19 and 0.09). Anyone can win a trial with the blood suppressed. You need an attorney who can win with the blood coming in. The science is based on gas chromatography, mass spectrometry gas chromatography or enzymatic assay testing, and is highly scientific. Mark Thiessen is one of the few Houston DWI lawyers who can explain the science of gas chromatography to you in terms that you can understand and can convince a jury of the unreliability of the machine and the program. He also knows Mass Spectrometry and is a published author on Hospital Enzymatic Assay testing. Only a skilled and knowledgeable DWI trial lawyer will not only challenge the four corners of the warranty and the chain of custody with the blood, but will also know how the science works and where problems arise in that process.
How Do You Win a DWI Trial?
Few lawyers have learned to win DWI trials on a regular basis. DWI is one of the hardest cases to try because it is an opinion crime. The definition of intoxication is not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties, or having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
A skilled DWI trial attorney will systematically weave a thread of doubt throughout the entire case, demonstrating to the jury everything that occurred leading up to, during and after the arrest. The police and district attorney only focus on the negative aspects of your police interaction. We give the jury ALL the information they need to follow the law. The State must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and it is their job to do so. Our job is to reveal the truth to the jury, even if it prevents the district attorney from completing their mission. When Thiessen is representing you, very rarely can or does a jury decide guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based on an officer’s opinion that you lost your normal mental or physical faculties. What separates us from the other Houston DWI trial lawyers is that we care about our clients: We get to know who you are so that we can present the real you to the jury for their consideration.
If the State has a breath or blood test, your case might become more difficult, but a fair jury will still follow the law and find you not guilty. The State must prove that your BAC is accurate and reliable. Mark Thiessen has rarely met a district attorney with enough knowledge and understanding of the Intoxilyzer machine and infrared spectroscopy to be able to convince a jury upon the reliability of the results. Blood is more difficult to defend than breath and, again, few DWI defense attorneys understand the science, and even fewer district attorneys understand blood. It is absolutely crucial that you hire a blood or breath DWI trial attorney such as Mark Thiessen.
Other DWI Issues
Drug Recognition Evaluations (DRE)
A person may be intoxicated by a variety of substances including: alcohol, prescription medication, illegal drugs, over the counter medication or any combination thereof. So, if you look intoxicated and blow a 0.000, you are still not going home. Blowing a 0.000 is the first step of the 14-step Drug Recognition Evaluation where the officer tries to allege that you are intoxicated by something other than alcohol. You are going to need a skilled attorney who is familiar and comfortable in all aspects of a DRE.
Felony DWI / Third Offense
While the DWI Penalties are harsher if convicted, the third felony DWI is no different than preparing and attacking a first DWI. But the biggest difference occurs at jury trial. The first thing the jury hears is that you already have two DWIs. It is a tough—but not impossible—stain to overcome. Much more is at risk in felony court, but if your case is good, there is no reason you should be prevented from professing your innocence even though you admitted guilt twice before.
Mandatory Blood Draws
The newest litigation surrounds blood testing, mandatory blood draws, forced blood draws and “no refusal” weekends. I agree that the previous are a violation of your personal rights; however, the Texas Supreme Court has allowed all four of these DWI deterrents.
The Texas Supreme Court allows police officers to draw blood without your consent. On “no refusal” weekends, if an officer has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated and you are hiding evidence, then a judge can author a search warrant for your blood. They will strap you down and forcefully take your blood. According to the US Supreme Court, the police must always have a search warrant to draw blood if the client refuses. It’s either consent to the blood test, or the police have to get a warrant. Plain and simple.
More and more clients are coming in beaten up by the police. Let Thiessen Law Firm fight the warrant for you.
Q: What are the Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFSTs)?
A: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) as a series of psychophysical tests administered by law enforcement designed to determine if an individual is driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). More specifically, Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) is used to determine if an individual is under the influence of alcohol.
The Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) consists of a battery of three tests which are to be administered and evaluated in a standardized manner in order to obtain validated indicators of impairment and to establish probable cause for arrest. The three tests administered are: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn and the One-Leg Stand.
1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Testing
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary jerking movement of the eyeball that occurs naturally as an individual's eye gazes to the side. Normally, nystagmus (jerking movement) occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. When an individual is impaired by the effects of alcohol, this jerking is exaggerated and can occur at lesser angles. Additionally, an individual driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence will have greater difficulty tracking a moving object. As the test is administered, law enforcement personnel look for three clues of intoxication in each eye. The clues are:
- Lack of Smooth Pursuit: If the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly.
- Distinct and Sustained at Maximum Deviation: If jerking is distinctly noticeable when the eye is looking as far to the side as it can (maximum deviation).
- Onset of Nystagmus Prior to 45 Degrees: If the jerking begins when the eye is within 45 degrees of center.
The officer tests each eye. If, between both eyes, four or more of the indicators are observed, then the police determine you are intoxicated.
The problems with the HGN are: (1) this does not measure an individual’s mental faculties; (2) this does not measure an individual’s physical faculties; (3) some people have natural nystagmus; (4) the police are looking for millimeter ticks of your eye, and they don’t even know what is natural for you; (5) there are plenty of ways to get a false nystagmus, i.e. if you are facing their headlights or rapidly moving traffic; (6) each clue has very specific time requirements to properly administer this test: usually 14 passes, 82 seconds in all, and if an officer violates this, then the results are compromised; (7) they don’t ever have a camera close enough to your eye so that a jury can actually see the ticking themselves, so the police always say you failed; (8) head injuries may affect the results. Bottom line: This test is utter nonsense and you should hire an attorney who understands all the nuances and problem areas of the HGN test.
Divided Attention Testing
The Walk-and-Turn test and the One-Leg Stand test are both "divided attention" which means you must listen to the instructions very carefully. These are highly complicated, you are given no chance to practice and it is quite easy to fail even if you are sober.
2. Walk-and-Turn Test
The Walk-and-Turn test (WAT) has 15 different instructions: Place your feet (1) on the line (2) in a heel to toe manner (3) with your left foot in front of your right, with (4) your arms at your sides. The officer should then demonstrate the position you must stand it while he gives you all the other instructions. (5) Do not begin before you are instructed to. When instructed to begin, (6) take nine heel-to-toe steps (7) on the line. Then on your ninth step (8) take a series of small steps to turn around. Then (9) return on the line taking (10) nine heel-to-toe steps. (11) Count each step out loud. (12) Look at your feet while walking. (13) Do not raise your arms from your side. (14) Do not stop once you begin. (15) Say that you understand. This test has eight possible clues and it only takes two minor errors for officers to think you are impaired. The clues are:
- Can’t Balance During Instructions: If the individual cannot maintain balance while in the instruction phase.
- Starts Too Soon: If the individual begins before instructions are finished.
- Stops While Walking: If the individual stops at any time during the test.
- Misses Heel to Toe: If the individual does not touch heel-to-toe by half an inch.
- Raises Arms: If the individual raises arms more than six inches from the body for balance.
- Improper Turn: If the individual doesn’t use a series of small steps or fails to turn to the left direction.
- Wrong Number of Steps: If the individual takes an incorrect number of steps.
- Steps Off The Line: if the individual steps on the imaginary or designated straight line.
Officers may tell you the instructions more than once if you ask for them. They will not let you practice and only require two clues to fail the test in their eyes.
The problems with the WAT are: (1) you don’t get to practice; (2) if you are 50 pounds or more overweight, this may affect the results; (3) back, leg and neck injuries can affect the results; (4) it is the individual’s job to disclose any injuries – the officer will not ask; (5) the officer must determine whether any clues were subject to nervousness, inexperience or language barriers; (6) you don’t get credit for all the things you do correctly on the test; and (7) many times the test is administered on the side of a busy road. Bottom line: This test is so easy to fail, you should never even attempt it.
3. One-Leg Stand Test
The One-Leg Stand Test has 13 different instructions: (1) Stand straight. (2) Place your feet together. (3) Hold your arms at your side. (4) Do not begin until instructed to. (5) Say that you understand. When instructed, (6) raise either leg, (7) approximately six inches from the ground, (8) keeping the raised foot parallel to the ground. (9) Keep both legs straight and (10) look at the elevated foot. (11) Count out loud in the following manner: (12) one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three and so on (13) until told to stop. The officer should use a timer and require the individual to perform this test for 30 seconds. This test has four possible clues and it only takes two minor errors for officers to think you are impaired. The clues are:
- Sways: If the individual sways while balancing.
- Raises Arms: If the individual raises arms more than six inches from their body.
- Hops: If the individual hops to maintain balance.
- Drops Foot: If the individual puts a foot down.
Again, you are only given the instructions one time, unless you ask for them again. And you are not allowed to practice.
The problems with this test are: (1) you don’t get to practice; (2) if you are 50 pounds or more overweight, this may affect the results; (3) back, leg and neck injuries can affect the results; (4) it is the individual’s job to disclose any injuries – the officer will not ask; (5) the officer must determine whether any clues were subject to nervousness, inexperience or language barriers; (6) you don’t get credit for all the things you do correctly on the test; (7) many times the test is administered on the side of a busy road; and (8) the sway clue is a subjective determination and may be different for every officer’s belief of what “sway” is. Bottom line: This test is so easy to fail, you should never even attempt it.
NOTE: This information is not legal advice. It is provided for educational use only. If you need legal advice regarding a DWI offense in the State of Texas, please contact Mark Thiessen at 713-864-9000, or request a free case evaluation.