Campus Carry Takes Effect on 50th Anniversary of UT Tower Shooting

The Texas "Campus Carry" law takes effect on the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas tower shooting.

In an interesting twist of fate, the hotly debated "campus carry" law takes effect on the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas tower shooting.

The Texas open-carry law specifically does not apply to college campuses, where handguns must be concealed and holstered. However, many schools are opting out of campus carry, and schools may also designate gun-free zones.

To ensure you stay compliant with open-carry and campus-carry, check your school's restrictions. If you are arrested for violating the law, contact us.

Read the full Fox News story 'Campus Carry' goes into effect as Texas remembers UT Tower shootings 50 years later.

Peter M. Lopez Receives Family Law Mediation Certification.

Peter M. Lopez is a certified mediator and a certified family law mediator.

On March 29, 2016, Peter M. Lopez received certification as a family law mediator.

In addition to the 40-hour course required for certification as a mediator, which Peter completed in January of 2015, he completed a 27.25-hour family law mediation course in March of 2016.

Mediating family law cases that are emotionally charged and especially volatile requires a specialized skill set and the right temperament. Family law cases also require a mediator that has extensive experience with the complicated legal issues that arise in family law cases, such as conservatorship issues, complex property divisions, child support calculations, health insurance considerations, and many others.

Peter has approximately sixteen years handling all types of family law cases from inception, through the discovery process, and to final trial including jury trial. It is that kind of experience and training that allow him to mediate and resolve even the most complex of cases.

If you need an attorney to help you through your family law case or a mediator to help settle it, contact us today.

Sweetwater Passes Ordinance Prohibiting Electronic Messaging While Driving

The City of Sweetwater, Texas has adopted an ordinance banning texting while driving.

The City of Sweetwater, Texas, has passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of handheld devices for anything other than telephone calls while operating a motor vehicle.

Specifically, Section 19-111 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Sweetwater provides: 

(b) Offenses. It is unlawful and a person commits an offense if the person while using a handheld wireless communication device to send, read, or write a text message and/or email, view pictures or written text, whether transmitted by internet or other electronic means, engages in gaming, or any other use of a handheld wireless communication device with the exception of initiating, answering, conducting or terminating a telephone call while operating a motor vehicle within the city limits.

The are certain exceptions which constitute affirmative defenses. Those are if the wireless communication:

  1. Was used to initiate, answer, or terminate a telephone call;
  2. Was used while the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped;
  3. Was used to communicate with an emergency response operator, a fire department, a law enforcement agency, a hospital, physician's office, or health clinic regarding a medical or other bona fide emergency;
  4. Occurred when it was affixed to the vehicle and used as a global positioning or navigation system, or used as a hands-free device or in hands-free mode.

Nor does the ordinance apply to government officials acting in that capacity with an immediate need to make such communications.

A violation of the new law is punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.00 and is not a moving violation for purposes of one's driving record or insurance. The ordinance becomes effective ten days following publication in the newspaper, which, according to a KTXS report citing Police Chief Brian Frieda, is expected be Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

If you are cited for violating the new ordinance and you believe your are not guilty the charge, contact our firm today to discuss your options.

TMCA Publishes list of 2015 Credential Holders in Texas Bar Journal

Peter M. Lopez is the only Credentialed Mediator in Sweetwater, Nolan County, Texas, and many of the surrounding counties.

The Texas Mediator Credentialing Association has published the 2015 list of Credential Holders in the June 2015 Issue of the Texas Bar Journal.

The mission of the TMCA is "Promoting Quality Mediation throughout Texas," and credential holders meet specific training, continuing education, and experience requirements; are bound by a mandatory Code of Ethics and a grievance process; and are commited to delivering quality mediation services.

As of June, 2015, Peter M. Lopez is the only Credentialed Mediator in Sweetwater and Nolan County, and he is the only Credentialed Mediator in the surrounding counties of Mitchell, Fisher, Coke, and Scurry. Peter is one of only two Credentialed Mediators in the Abilene, Taylor County area.

If your situation requires a certified and credentialed mediator, contact our firm today.


20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. Introduction.

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the Introduction to the book.

INTRODUCTION

In fifteen years as a criminal defense attorney, I have handled countless DWI cases. In addition to the clients I have represented, I have talked to hundreds more who were arrested for driving while intoxicated. The questions I get asked during the initial interview with prospective clients, whether in person or on the telephone, are almost always the same. There is also very little practical difference from one series of answers to the next. That is why I chose to write this book.

As you are well aware, the law changes from time to time, so over time the specific answers may change. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney working with you on your DWI case. I get telephone calls all the time about landlord-tenant disputes, oil and gas issues, or insurance claims, and I refer those cases to attorneys I believe are knowledgeable in those areas. If I, or a loved one, sustained a severe personal injury, I would not call a family law specialist—as great as that lawyer may be in divorce cases.

That is no less true for criminal cases, especially cases like DWIs that can be so complicated and where the usual rules do not apply. I tell every one of my DWI clients, “With every DWI, there are potentially three cases. There is the actual DWI case. There is the administrative license revocation case (in a different court with a different judge). And there is the occupational license case (frequently in a different court with a different judge).” To add to that, each one of those cases has its own set of rules of procedure, different lawyers representing the different State entities or agencies involved, and very specific, unforgiving deadlines. That’s not true with any other type of case.

One scenario I encounter far too often is a prospective client who comes to see me after going to court unrepresented and pleading “guilty” to a DWI. The conversation usually involves the client explaining all the dreadful consequence he or she is now facing, including fines, mandatory classes, license suspension, an interlock installation on their vehicle, surcharges after the license is reinstated, and worse if a commercial driver license (CDL) is involved. I also hear all the excuses for why he or she did not hire an attorney before going to court alone. The excuses are also always the same: I didn’t think I could afford a lawyer; I’ve never been in trouble before, and I didn’t think I needed a lawyer; it was my first DWI, so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal; I thought I would just get probation. The desperate client then wants to know what can be done about the situation, and the answer, at that point, is usually, “nothing.”

The cost of a DWI conviction is far greater than the attorney’s fee, and the consequences of a DWI conviction are far reaching. Various studies and estimates place the national average cost estimate for a DUI/DWI conviction between $6,000-24,000. The more realistic estimates are that a first offense, non-injury, low blood alcohol level DUI/DWI costs between $9,000-12,000. One Texas Department of Transportation ad warns of a DWI in Texas costing over $17,000. All of the estimates attempt to calculate the out-of-pocket costs of a DUI/DWI conviction, which include court costs, probation fees, fines, driver license suspension and reinstatement fees, annual surcharges to keep a license, vehicle towing and impounding, bail, and other costs associated with a DUI/DWI conviction. What most of the estimates do not calculate is lost income from missing work to attend court, decreased earning capacity because of driver license suspension or loss, increase in auto insurance premiums, and it gets worse if you have a CDL, for which there is no occupational license.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. If you get arrested for DWI in Texas, hiring a lawyer to fight the charge is going to be costly. However, the consequences of not hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you are far more expensive and will linger for years.

I hope this book helps answer a few of your questions if you or someone you love is ever arrested for DWI in Texas.

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. What will happen if I am convicted of DWI in Texas?

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the 1st question answered in the book.

1. What will happen if I am convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas?

In short, it depends. It depends on several factors, such as whether you have had prior DWIs, whether there was an open container, your age, and other factors. Regardless of the circumstances, the consequences of a DWI conviction go well beyond the punishment assessed by the court..

Currently, for a first DWI, Texas Penal Code § 49.04 provides that operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. There is also a minimum term in jail of 72 hours. If it is also shown that the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container, the minimum jail term is six days. If it shown that the blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 or more, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. See Texas Penal Code § 49.09 for these and other enhancement provisions.

It is worth mentioning that the same offense classification and range of punishment applies to boating while intoxicated and flying while intoxicated.

If a defendant is convicted of DWI and placed on probation, there are still mandatory jail terms depending on the classification of the offense. Not less than 72 hours for a Class B misdemeanor. The minimum jail terms for DWI offenses are typically not reduced for “good time” or by early release.

Other probable consequences of a DWI include:

  • Up to one year on probation for a Class B misdemeanor
  • Up to two years on probation for a Class A misdemeanor
  • Driver license suspension or revocation
  • DWI education classes (“DWI school”)
  • Driver license reinstatement fees
  • Annual driver license surcharges
  • Possible installation of interlock device (“blow & go”) on vehicle
  • Possible notice to employer of the interlock device on work vehicle
  • Probation fees, fines, and court costs
  • Community service hours
  • Victim Impact Panel
  • Evaluation and treatment for alcohol/drug abuse
  • Required compliance with treatment requirements
  • Attendance at AA/NA meetings
  • All other rules of probation

And this list is not exhaustive. It does not include the probability that your auto insurance carrier will drop your coverage or dramatically increase your insurance premiums, the suspension of a commercial driver license (CDL) with no possibility of an occupational license, and other possible consequences. The legal ramifications of a DWI conviction are harsh, but the collateral damage is just as bad or worse.

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.


20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. What does intoxicated mean in Texas?

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the 2nd question answered in the book.

2. What does “intoxicated” mean in Texas?

Texas Penal Code § 49.01 defines “intoxicated” as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body, or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Alcohol concentration means grams (.08) per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine.

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. What if this is not my first DWI?

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the 3rd question answered in the book.

3. What if this is not my first DWI?

If you have one previous conviction for DWI, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum jail term of 30 days up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000. If the offense charged is your third or more DWI, the offense is a third degree felony punishable by two to ten years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice—Institutional Division and a fine of up to $10,000. If the DWI is a felony, the charge may be enhanced by other prior felonies.

If probation is granted, the minimum jail term is not less than five days for a Class A, and not less than ten days for a felony. The minimum jail terms are mandatory.

Other probable consequences of a second or more DWI

•    All of the probable consequences listed in 1. above
•    Up to 2 years on probation for a Class A misdemeanor
•    A probation term of two to ten years for a felony.
•    Installation of a breath analysis machine on vehicle
•    DWI education classes for repeat offenders
•    Possible lengthy waiting periods before eligible for occupational license
•    Subsequent DWI is a felony

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.


20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. Can the police officer take my license?

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the 4th question answered in the book.

4. Can the police officer take my license?

Yes. If you are arrested for a DWI, and you have a Texas driver license, the arresting officer will probably confiscate your license. If so, you should be given a yellow sheet of paper called a Notice of Suspension, Temporary Driving Permit (DIC-25), explaining that your license will be suspended effective 40 days from the date of the notice. The DIC-25 is your temporary driving permit until the expiration of 40 days, or, if you request a hearing to contest the license suspension, until an Administrative Law Judge decides whether your license should be suspended.

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas. Will my driver license be suspended?

20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is the first book in the 20 Questions series by Peter M. Lopez. It is currently available to read in ebook form below and for download as a pdf. A paperback version is scheduled to be released this summer.

Each question answered in 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas is also answered individually for your convenience here on our website if you are searching for answers to specific questions.

As you read, you may discover you have other questions. If so, links to the answers to the other nineteen questions in the book are provided below.

This is the 5th question answered in the book.

5. Will my driver license be suspended?

Not necessarily. You have fifteen days from the date you receive notice, or are presumed to have received notice, of the suspension to request a hearing to contest the suspension. The fifteen-day deadline is absolute. It is one of those unforgiving deadlines mentioned earlier. If you do not request the hearing to contest the suspension within the fifteen-day timeframe, you waive, or give up, any right to challenge the suspension, and you will not get your license back until after the suspension period ends and you have paid the reinstatement fee.

If you request a hearing, either by phone, fax, or mail, your case will be set for an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing, the attorney for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will present evidence in favor of suspension, which is usually the offense report and required notices. The defense will then present evidence or argue against suspension. Most of the time, the only issues are whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant was operating the motor vehicle while intoxicated, and whether there was reasonable suspicion for the stop or probable cause for the arrest. The burden of proof to suspend a license is much lighter than what would be required in a criminal trial, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

If a breath or blood test was refused, the issues are whether there was reasonable suspicion for the stop or probable cause for the arrest, and whether a breath or blood test was offered and refused after being notified of the consequences of a refusal.

If the ALJ decides in favor of the defendant, there is no suspension, and the driver license will be returned. If the ALJ decides in favor of DPS, the applicable suspension period will be imposed. The decisions of the ALJ are appealable, but specific rules and timeframes apply to appealing administrative decisions.

If you have other questions about a DWI arrest in Texas, here are the answers to the other nineteen most frequently questions when arrested for driving while intoxicated:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, call our firm today, and please enjoy 20 Questions: Arrested for DWI in Texas.