COME HERE ON WORK OR VACATION...
...but don't leave here on probation. Our area of Southeastern Texas is served by honest police agencies, judges and district attorneys. History has made our officials 'law and order' types. Prosecutions here are to the fullest extent allowed by law.
In Texas we do have jury trials even on misdemeanor offenses such as a first or second offense DWIs. A good local lawyer who knows the ropes, knows juror profiles, and knows where the skeletons are buried, is worth the expense.
Possibly hundreds of people from throughout the United States (and even the world) have turned to my firm for help over the years. The only consistent thing about all the 'out-of-towner' cases is that all occurred within Southeastern Texas.
My firm gets approached by 'out-of-towners' in differing ways. We may get a call from a lawyer in another city who is looking for experienced legal help for the employee of a corporate client. In another case a worried relative may call after learning a loved-one is in a local jail. Sometimes the client calls directly.
BLAME IT ALL ON BEAUMONT
Anyone arrested on a DWI or other type of crime involving a motor vehicle can certainly 'blame it on Beaumont.' Beaumont is where one of the largest discoveries of oil was found at Spindletop on January 10, 1901. Almost every major American oil company in existence today was founded here in Beaumont, Texas. Beaumont is to the Oil Age as Rome was to the Roman Empire.
I've had people become clients after getting in trouble while 'passing through,' generally on their way to or from Houston. A DWI stop on I-10 while traveling from the Gaming Casinos or Racetrack in Louisiana to one's home in Houston fits a typical profile. Transporting contraband such as drugs, marijuana or currency from or into Houston fits another typical profile.
It's an extremely common profile for employees to get a DWI stop while here on a job assignment from another city. The worker was either 'playing,' 'unwinding' after work, or simply returning to the hotel room after grabbing a quick burger and beer after the last shift. Beaumont, Port Arthur (Sabine Pass), and Orange are today still at the 'heart' of the oil and gas, petrochemical, refining and offshore industries. It's an important port, shipbuilding, and transportation center for our national economy.
A PAGE OF HISTORY, WORTH A VOLUME OF LOGIC
At my firm, we respect the fact people who work hard deserve to 'play hard.' They also deserve to 'unwind' after a stressful shift when their job will not permit them to be home and relax with the family. Southeastern Texas has always had its exotic coastal beauty, its marsh wildlife, its delicious food, its various kinds of 'local' music, its nightlife. It's a clash of cultures where Texas meets Louisiana, the Deep South, Latin America, Asia and the world.
After Spindletop and for over 60 years, Beaumont was recognized as a frontier 'boom town' with all the accompanying vices, including saloons, open brothels, open gambling, gangsters, 'pay-offs', and extensive local corruption. It was machine politics at its most institutionally corrupt, all geared to the 'oil boom' and to the entertainment of the working man.
The corrupt atmosphere lasted through several 'booms', the roaring 20s, the depression years, World War II (Southeast Texas was a major shipbuilding center), the 1950s, all the way until the 1960s. The 1960s saw the James Committee come to Beaumont. Live television hearings followed. The hearings were watched intensely by locals on early black and white screens. The hearings did not send anyone to prison, but the committee did awaken the local electorate. The locals voted to oust the bawdy, colorful official atmosphere that had become institutionalized. Eventually, the saloons, open gambling and open brothels got the message and ceased operations.
As a boy growing up, I can recall my mother and several neighbors viewing the James Committee hearings on our huge black and white television, one of the first on our street. While the hearings were playing out, the kids on my block could play in the street. There was no motor vehicle traffic during the hearings. Virtually all local adults were stationed where there was a television so they could view the proceedings.
The 'James Committee' was a watershed in local politics. It is burned into the region's memory. Local voters have consistently recalled the 'bad old days' of corruption by consistently electing clean, honest, 'good-government' politicians, sheriffs, judges and district attorneys. Today without exception, these officials view their mandate from the voters as 'preserving law, order and decency in the community.'
Hence, its best to get your case before a jury and stop looking for an easy way out or a quick fix. A criminal case in our area can involve a lot of time, travel, and expense but it can be well worth it. Local jurors can be among the most big-hearted, generous and forgiving people on this earth. I should know, they've forgiven my clients on many occasions.
FACE LOCAL JUSTICE WITH CONFIDENCE
The worst thing a person can do is to leave on an airliner after their arrest, forfeit bail, go home thinking one will never return and questions will not be raised. 'You can run, but you can't hide', as the old saying goes. Even if one believes he/she can look over their shoulder all the time, eventually one needs sleep and then there will be that knock at the door at a time when one is least prepared.
Our local Sheriff is so serious about 'rounding up' people who abscond, that he has within the Sheriff's Department a small police 'commuter airline' complete with multi-engine aircraft operated with proceeds of 'drug money forfeitures.' This in-house airline is piloted by flying deputies who routinely pick up prisoners from all across the United States. The prisoners are brought back in shackles.
In contraband and drug cases, freeing a person from jail on bail or on 'an accusation' can be useful to the police. All the authorities have to do is follow a suspect's telephone calls or movements after released. The number of defendants is said to grow exponentially.
LOCAL DWIs AND DRIVERS FROM OUT-OF-STATE
Prior to the Internet revolution, a DWI conviction in one state rarely had interstate consequences. Today, however, under the Interstate Driver's License Compact and the National Drivers Registry, little if anything slips through the cracks. Under the Problem Driver Pointer System administered through the Drivers Registry and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all new applications for license or the renewal of licenses are subject to inquiry. This has been adopted in all 50 of the United States, so that administrative suspensions, reinstatement fees and Texas surcharges will be given 'reciprocity' in a driver's home state and enforced. Simply stated, you cannot simply 'leave' this area and expect to dodge consequences of a DWI as it impacts on your driving privileges.
Home state driver license applications have questions pertaining to DWIs in other states and these questions are universally 'under penalty of perjury.' A false statement can lead to Felony charges and possible prison. It's all part of an aggressive national campaign to guarantee punishment of out-of-state violators in their home state. There is no such thing as running away.
Where an initial period of driving license suspension has occurred, our firm must suggest to our client that he/she contact a lawyer in his/her home State about an Essential Need Driving License or Occupational License petition under the rules pertaining to their home state. All lawyers are licensed in their individual states so this generally restricts my firm against petitioning other states about out-of-state driving licenses.
Texas law does have some advantages that can work for the client. If found 'not guilty', Texas will vacate an initial ALR suspension caused by a DWI arrest or refusal to take a blood or breath test.
Questions pertaining to one's home state licensing requirements and suspensions should be directed to the following listing of Department of Motor Vehicle Contacts.