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San Antonio Blog

A breath test for pot raises legal concerns

Drunk driving charges are serious business in Texas, and a conviction can lead to license suspension or license revocation, significant fines and jail time, among other penalties. A driver can be charged with an offense owing to his or her level of impairment based on objective evidence presented by a law enforcement official or charged with a per se DWI based on the driver's blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration. DWI laws also apply to what is often called 'drugged driving." Currently, there are no breath tests available to law enforcement for the detection of drugs, but that soon may be changing.

Scientists have now reportedly developed a method to isolate and measure the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of pot, in an individual's system. It took many years after the development of a BAC test for alcohol before there was general agreement regarding the level of alcohol in a driver's system and per se impairment, and that remains controversial to this day. Similarly, there is a lack of consensus among scientists regarding THC level and impaired driving.

A DUI charge could prevent you from getting to work

In Texas, being found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08% when operating a vehicle could lead to a license suspension for between 90 days and one year, even if you have never been charged with a DUI before. This can be especially worrying if you, like most people, depend on your drivers' license to get to and from work.

If you are facing DUI charges and are concerned about how you will get to work if you have your license suspended, you should start by gaining a good understanding of what the possible consequences are for you. In the best case, you will be able to successfully defend yourself and have all charges dropped. In the worst case, you may need to find other ways to get to work.

Texas marijuana enforcement inconsistent after hemp legalization

In June 2019, hemp production became legal. Law enforcement agencies, however, lack an easy way to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The situation has resulted in inconsistent enforcement of marijuana laws throughout the state. Some law enforcement agencies continue to cite people for possessing marijuana and sometimes arrest them. In other communities, law enforcement leaders have chosen to largely ignore marijuana.

In Round Rock, the county attorney's decision not to prosecute people possessing small amounts of marijuana has prompted the local police department to cease marijuana citations or arrests. Leadership in Austin has taken the opposite approach. The Chief of the Austin Police Department said that the continuation of marijuana enforcement was important to public safety. A political fight appears to be brewing over citations and arrests for marijuana in Austin. The city council has scheduled a hearing to determine if law enforcement should apply resources to minor marijuana offenses.

4 people arrested for meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana in Texas

An apartment complex in Tyler was the scene of a drug raid in late August. Narcotics investigators in Henderson County had targeted the home of a 53-year-old woman. According to the Henderson County Sheriff, she had been arrested the week before in a different town and found to have one-quarter pound of methamphetamine in her possession. At her Tyler location, authorities reported seizing another half pound of methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and a substance believed to be cocaine. The woman now faces charges of manufacturing and delivering controlled substances. The court set her bond at $50,000, and she remains jailed in the Smith County Jail.

The raid on her residence also resulted in the arrest of three other people. A 52-year-old man has been charged with similar crimes as the woman along with marijuana possession. A 34-year-old male resident of Tyler taken into custody was determined to be a felon in possession of an unlicensed firearm. The fourth person arrested, a 34-year-old woman, only received a charge for possession of a controlled substance.

Determining if an eyewitness picks a guilty suspect

When Texas residents witness a crime, they may be asked to view a lineup or an array of photos in order to identify the individual who committed the crime. Although the guilty individual may be in the photos or lineup, it is possible that the police have the wrong person in the lineup. Since police cases often depend on if a witness picks the suspect, it is important to realize that witnesses often make errors as well.

Eyewitness memory researchers have been working to see if it is possible to determine the accuracy of an eyewitness's decision as to who committed the crime. They have used a variety of indicators of accuracy, including eye movement patterns when looking at the lineup, the words they use as they go through the process of making a decision, and how quickly their decision is made.

New marijuana testing methods being developed in Texas

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that legalized the cultivation of hemp in the state, dozens of district and county attorneys announced that they would stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases. These prosecutors were not taking a stand on the issue of marijuana legalization, they were choosing to avoid pursuing cases they did not believe they could win. Crime labs in Texas are not currently able to determine with accuracy the THC content of marijuana, which means that prosecutors are not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance a marijuana defendant was caught with was marijuana and not hemp.

The Texas Forensics Science Commission has been working on the problem with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and a new testing method is expected to be available to prosecutors in early 2020. According to the agencies, the new test will be able to determine whether a substance has a THC concentration higher than 1%, which is more than is permissible in hemp. Most of the marijuana at the center of narcotics cases has a THC level far higher than 1%.

7 arrested during Texas drug bust

Texas authorities have busted seven people on drug charges after executing a search warrant at a residence in Marshall. The arrests stemmed from an ongoing investigation by the Harrison County Sheriff's Office.

According to a local TV report, SWAT teams from the sheriff's office and the Marshall Police Department raided a home and a camper trailer located on a property on the 400 block of Spruce Street. During the search, officers allegedly uncovered unspecified amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana that had been prepackaged for sale. They also reportedly found an unspecified amount of illicit prescription pills.

Why Are Texas Schools Testing Students For Drugs?

It is more common to hear of drug testing in the workplace versus in schools. School districts in Texas are battling with the idea of whether to test kids for drugs and the process needed to go about doing this. A major question is whether this will apply to both middle and high schools.

While some school districts may not have a drug problem, getting ahead of the possible issue is a good step. It is very common for kids today to have access to drugs, whether that is buying, selling or sharing.

Your rights when you're pulled over by the police

If you have an interaction with the police while driving, it can be a scary and nerve-racking experience. You must comply with the police if they signal you to pull over, and you should also make clear that you are willing to follow all of their requests.

While it is important that you follow the demands of the police, it is also vital that you take the time to understand the rights you have after being pulled over by law enforcement officials. By doing so, you will be able to take action if your rights were violated, and you also may be able to use rights violations as part of a criminal defense strategy.

DPS to adopt cite-and-release marijuana policy

The Texas Department of Public Safety will no longer arrest individuals found in possession of 4 ounces or less of marijuana. Instead, the Lone Star State's largest law enforcement agency will take a cite-and-release approach. The new policy was announced in a memorandum sent to DPS offices on July 10 and will only be applied when individuals are stopped by officers in the counties they reside in. However, marijuana remains illegal in Texas, and individuals caught in possession of the drug will still face up to a year in jail if convicted.

The revised DPS marijuana policy is being implemented less than a month after the passage of a bill legalizing the cultivation of hemp in Texas. When Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law, prosecutors in several municipalities announced that they would no longer prosecute low-level marijuana crimes. The prosecutors said that pursuing these cases would be futile as state crime laboratories lacked the equipment necessary to differentiate between illegal marijuana and legal hemp.

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