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Police in Texas discover marijuana during routine traffic stop

A routine traffic stop in Texas on May 16 led to the discovery of what police described as a "large amount" of marijuana. The 30-year-old Mississippi man who was behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV involved has been charged with possessing less than 2 ounces of marijuana and possessing between 4 and 400 grams of a controlled substance. He was also cited for driving without a valid driver's license. His bond has been set at $4,500, according to media accounts of the incident.

The man's SUV was pulled over on the southbound lane of State Highway 6 in the vicinity of Meridian. A Bosque County Sheriff's Office deputy says that he initiated the traffic stop after noticing that the SUV's license plate lights were not working. The deputy asked for permission to search the vehicle when a records check revealed that the man's driver's license was invalid. The man reportedly gave the deputy consent to search his vehicle.

Avoid unpleasant surprises by knowing these DWI laws

Texas laws concerning drunk driving are pretty much the same as anywhere else. Your BAC cannot exceed 0.08%, and first-time offenses come with fewer consequences than subsequent ones.

However, the law contains more details than your generic DWI. Here are just three to know to avoid charges. 

Texas man arrested the day after he was put on probation

A 19-year-old man was taken into custody by police in Brown County on May 8 just one day after he was placed on probation for a misdemeanor drug charge. The man has been charged with aggravated robbery and is being held at a local detention facility in lieu of a $100,000 bond according to media reports. He is accused of attempting to rob the apartment of a Buffview man during the early morning hours of May 7 to obtain marijuana to sell on the street. His 24-year-old alleged accomplice has also been taken into custody.

The two men are said to have arrived at the apartment at about 12:30 a.m. The man's alleged accomplice admitted that he brought a shotgun with him to scare the intended victim, and the man was armed with a realistic looking BB gun. Both men are accused of putting on bandanas to conceal their identities. The alleged accomplice says that the man fled the scene after losing his shoes and hat when the attempted robbery became violent.

Some claim ketosis can cause DUI false positives

A Texas attorney who got a man's DUI charge dropped even though a breath test showed him well above the legal alcohol limit says it happened because of the man's low-carb diet. According to the attorney, ketosis resulting from the low-carb diet caused the false positive.

Acetone is a byproduct that occurs during ketosis when the liver is processing fat. People may then breathe out acetone as isopropyl alcohol. Some types of breath tests may not be able to distinguish between this and ethanol alcohol. For example, inexpensive self-check models may be inaccurate for people in ketosis. Air that has alcohol in it does not have the same number of molecules as breath from the lungs, and the device estimates blood alcohol content by analyzing these molecules. However, it might treat isopropyl and ethanol alcohol the same way.

Rewritten Texas bill reduces marijuana possession penalties

A bill that would have completely removed penalties associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana in Texas has been amended. Initially, the bill was intended to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. However, this piece of legislation was rewritten just before it was set to be heard by the state House of Representatives.

What the new version of House Bill 63 does instead is lessen the penalties for low-volume possession without fully removing them. While it may be possible for someone charged with possession in Texas to avoid having a criminal record because of reduced penalties that would be in place if the bill becomes law, there may still be legal consequences.

An overview of drug possession policies

In Hartley County in Texas, 42% of individuals taken into custody are charged with marijuana possession. That figure is 42.1% farther south in Sterling County. Nationally, roughly 6% of all people taken into custody face marijuana possession charges. However, it is not uncommon for that number to spike to nearly 20% in many jurisdictions throughout the country. This is in spite of the fact that there is a push in many areas to legalize the substance.

As a general rule, liberal or conservative policies did not explain why enforcement rates were so high in some areas but not in others. For instance, Alabama did not make enforcement of marijuana possession laws a high priority. However, states such as New Hampshire and New York had relatively high rates of enforcement. One of the reasons why there are so many people taken into custody for marijuana possession is that it may help governments make money.

Dallas district attorney addresses criminal justice reform

Some Texas residents may find a release from drug cases and other minor criminal charges after the Dallas County district attorney said that his office will no longer focus on prosecuting these types of cases. He noted that this is an attempt to deal with a mass incarceration problem and reflected the campaign promises that saw him elected to the position. Some of the cases the office will decline to prosecute include matters related to first-time marijuana or THC possession, possession of small "trace" amounts of other drugs, criminal trespass, or small-scale theft.

The official also noted that he planned to recommend changes to the probation and bail system as well. Cash bail systems have been widely criticized by criminal justice reformers as low-income people may spend lengthy periods of time in jail before trial simply because they cannot access the funds needed for bail, regardless of any real estimation of a risk to the community. In particular, the office noted that it will not prosecute first-time marijuana possession misdemeanor offenses as long as they did not take place in a drug-free zone or involve weapons. He also said that he would dismiss these types of misdemeanor marijuana charges if they were already in progress.

New Uniform Code of Military Justice laws affect DWI cases

Major reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice laws began January 1, 2019. The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman noted the changes are the most significant updates to the criminal code since the UCMJ's inception in 1950.

The new laws include changes to panels--the equivalent of a jury--and judges. The UCMJ revisions provide new powers of judicial investigation, as well as new sentencing rules. Several reforms are pertinent to a service person facing potential DWI / DUI charges.

Texas police seize drugs and drug distribution items

Two Texas men were taken into custody after SWAT team members from the Brownwood Police Department and the Brown County Sheriff's Office executed search warrants at their homes on March 28 and March 29. A 55-year-old Brownwood man has been charged with possessing drugs with the intent to deliver, and he faces a sentencing enhancement because narcotics were allegedly discovered in a drug-free zone. A 57-year-old Brownwood man faces drug and weapons possession charges.

The first search took place on at approximately 7:00 a.m. on March 28 at an apartment on Savoy Drive. Police say that they discovered two bags containing an undisclosed amount of a substance believed to be methamphetamine along with what reports described as a 'dope kit" of items allegedly used to package and distribute drugs. The 55-year-old who lived in the apartment was arrested at the scene and remains in custody according to media accounts. His bond has been set at $40,000.

Taking steps to reduce arrests for marijuana possession

Texas residents may be interested in learning how a Harris County district attorney pushed for a change that has led to an 80 percent reduction in marijuana possession-related misdemeanors. In Harris County, a program implemented by the district attorney allows individuals to go through a special course as opposed to being arrested for marijuana possession.

It is a misdemeanor for Harris County residents to have 4 ounces or less of marijuana. However, this new voluntary program allows individuals to take a four-hour course that educates them on decision-making skills in lieu of arrest. During the course, a cost-benefit analysis is presented where the cost of getting into trouble with the law is laid out. There is also education on setting goals, developing skills and taking steps to avoid risky situations and behaviors.

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