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Varghese Summersett

Varghese Summersett was honored to host two legal legends – retired Judge Louis Sturns and renowned Defense Attorney Mike Heiskell – to commemorate Black History Month during the firm’s weekly training session.

“You are all in for a treat,” VS Partner Tiffany Burks told the firm’s attorneys and staff as she introduced her distinguished guests. “You are sitting in a room with greatness and history.”

Greatness and history, indeed! Sturns and Heiskell have left a lasting impact on the Tarrant County legal community and beyond. They’ve accomplished numerous “firsts” in their careers, which Burks touted during their introductions.

The Honorable Judge Louis Sturns

Legal Legends Share Wisdom, Stories with VS Team First African American Criminal Court Judge in Tarrant County

First African American Judge to Serve on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

First African American President of the Tarrant County Bar Association

 

Defense Attorney Mike Heiskell

Legal Legends Share Wisdom, Stories with VS Team First African American President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

First President of the Tarrant County Black Bar Association

First African American to Graduate Baylor Law School

 

After sharing their long list of achievements and accolades, Burks turned the floor over to Sturns and Heiskell, who candidly shared their advice, wisdom, and stories with the audience. They spoke about the challenges they faced as minority attorneys in a predominately white legal profession and how they overcame obstacles with determination, hard work, and professionalism.

Judge Sturns came to Fort Worth in 1976 after serving three years as a captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps. He started a private practice with legal and civil rights legend L. Clifford Davis in the “heart of the hood” and represented poor people in all aspects of law – criminal, civil, and probate.

“We basically took everything that came through the door,” Sturns said.

Sturns said he learned a lot in those early years working alongside Davis, who taught him to treat everybody in the courtroom fairly, from the client and the judge to the bailiffs and clerks – advice that he has carried through his career and has served him well including when he was later on the bench.

“I can tell you that I have seen a lot of things in the last 50-plus years,” he said.

Some of the experiences that stand out, he said, include not having a single minority on any of his juries from 1976 to 1986 because prosecutors used their preemptory strike to dismiss minority jurors – a practice now unconstitutional thanks in part to the Batson v. Kentucky decision.
Legal Legends Share Wisdom, Stories with VS Team

Heiskell – who started a law practice in Fort Worth in 1984 after working as an Assistant United States Attorney in Dallas – recalled how people were often surprised when they first met him; they assumed he was white because of his German last name.

“I would routinely have people come to my office, thinking I was a white guy and, when they found out I was a black guy, they turned around to leave,” he said.

Heiskell recalled a family who retained him for a high-profile murder case but then later changed their mind and went with a white attorney because the judge, victim, and prosecutor on the case were all white.

“As an African American attorney, you have to go through those things, and you have to overcome those things,” he said. “If you keep your eye on the Northstar and nose to the grindstone, you will overcome…Later, as time passed, people from all different racial groups began to come to me.”

Heiskell also talked about the importance of professionalism, civility, and preparation – something all lawyers should strive for. He said he finds something to truly care about with each and every case and always gives his client the best possible representation, regardless of the circumstances.

“My mantra is, ‘If you care, you prepare,'” he said.

Heiskell and Sturns also shared their most memorable moments, leadership styles, and what they think of the current judiciary and district attorney’s office. It was a candid, insightful, and inspiring conversation that left the VS team with a wealth of knowledge and motivation.

Managing Partner Benson Varghese thanked these true legal legends for accepting attorney Tiffany Burks’ invitation to speak to the firm during Black History Month and participate in the firm’s “Workshop Wednesday” training sessions.

“These men are not just pillars of the community because they talk the talk,” Varghese said. “They walk the walk…It’s up to us to continue the legacy that these legends have created.”

Watch the Video Here

 

Varghese Summersett

More than a thousand people move to Texas daily, which means more drivers are traveling on our 200,000 miles of state-maintained roadways. To keep up with the influx, state officials spent $2 billion from 2015 to 2022 to make our roads safer.

Still, we averaged one accident every minute last year.

Texas envisions a future with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. It has adopted a “Road to Zero” goal of having zero fatalities on Texas roads by 2050.

So, how are we doing? 

Texas Crash Data

Ever wonder what happens to crash reports after an accident? Where do they go from your local police department? The data from these reports, whether filed by police or self-reporting blue forms submitted by drivers to police, gets compiled into a database by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).

Those reports are then entered into the Crash Records Information System (CRIS), an extensive database maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. It contains data compiled from all of the crash reports filed in Texas. As such, it is an exhaustive database from which useful information can be mined.

In this post, we will share our findings after doing just that. You’ll also find information in this post you won’t find anywhere else. For example, it is easy to track the increase (or decrease) in accidents based on crash type, but the information tells a much more useful story when you combine it with other sources of information, such as data on population growth in Texas over the same period.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into a comparison of the 2022 data against 2023, the most recent year complete statistics are available.

The Number of Crashes in Texas Held Steady in 2023

Overall, there were 3,367 more accidents reported in 2023 than there were in 2022. That is less than a 1% increase in the total number of crashes. There were 555,586 accidents in 2022 and 558,953 accidents in 2023. That translates to 1,531 accidents per day in Texas in 2023. That’s 10,748 accidents per week, 46,579 accidents per month.

That’s just over 1 accident per minute in Texas in 2023.

 20222023
Total Crash Count555,586558,953
Population30,026,54730,500,000
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage50,65448,355
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury165,973169,203
Fatal Crashes3,9653,855
Total Number of Fatalities4,4074,268
Total Number of Injuries244,325250,182

Texas Population Growth Against Crash Data

Let’s compare this against population growth. Texas, the second-largest state in the U.S. by both area and population, sees a vast amount of traffic on its roads each day. Texas grew in population by 1.6 percent last year, meaning it added more people than any other state in the nation last year according to the United States Census Bureau.

Although there were more crashes in Texas last year, the rate at which crashes increased was less than the rate that the population grew by.

Increase in accidents in Texas vs. population growth from 2022 to 2023.

Fatal Car Crashes Were Down

There were 110 fewer fatal car crashes in 2023 as compared to 2022. That is a 2.8% reduction in fatal car crashes even while the population increased by 1.6%. While even a single death is one too many, it is improvement that tracks the increasing safety measures we see in modern vehicles. Improvements in vehicle safety features and advancements in road safety measures have likely contributed to the reduction in fatalities.

Total Number of Injuries from Motor Vehicle Accidents Went Up in 2023

 

The Number of Texans Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents Went Up

There were 5,857 more injuries from motor vehicle accidents in Texas in 2023 than there were in 2022. That is an increase of about 2.3%, slightly more than the increase in population in Texas over the same period of time.

Total Number of Injuries Went Up in Texas in 2023

Remarkable Reduction in Alcohol-Related Accidents in Texas in 2023

There were 1,107 fewer accidents involving alcohol in 2023, representing a 4.4% decrease in alcohol-related crashes. The total number of alcohol-related accidents in 2023 was 23,844 which is down from 24951 in 2022. There was a massive reduction in alcohol-related fatality accidents. In 2022 4,756 people lost their lives in alcohol-related accidents. In 2023, that number was down to 3,547. This represents a 25.4% reduction in alcohol-related accident deaths in 2023, despite a 1.6% increase in population.

 2022 Alcohol-Related Crashes2023 Alcohol-Related Crashes
Total Crash Count2495123844
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage71706606
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury2492124262
Fatal Crashes39462916
Total Number of Fatalities47563547
Total Number of Injuries4952947384

Motorcycle Accidents Increased in Texas in 2023

There were 278 more motorcycle accidents in 2023 than in 2022. This represents a 3.3% increase in the number of motorcycle accidents. 54 more motorcycle accidents resulted in fatalities, which is a 7.7% increase in motorcycle accident fatalities.

 2022 Motorcycle Crashes2023 Motorcycle Crashes
Total Crash Count83588636
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage130124
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury75957790
Fatal Crashes662702
Total Number of Fatalities702756
Total Number of Injuries95429718

Tarrant County Accident Statistics

There were 29,043 accidents reported in Tarrant County in 2023, up 34 accidents from 2022, a virtual dead heat. There were 13 more fatalities from car accidents in Tarrant County in 2023 versus 2022. 2023 saw a total of 215 fatalities from car accidents.

There were 141 alcohol-related car accident fatalities in Tarrant County in 2022 and 21 less in 2023.

The number of motorcycle fatalities jumped from 40 to 54 from 2022 to 2023 in Tarrant County.

Tarrant County20222023
Total MVAs29,00929,043
Fatalities202215
Injuries15,83115,698
Alcohol-Related Fatalities141120
Motorcycle Fatalities4054

Dallas County Accidents

There were 54,555 car accidents in Dallas County in 2022. There were 52,115 accidents in Dallas County in 2023, a decrease of 2,440 car accidents. There were 332 fatalities arising out of car accidents in Dallas in 2023, 10 more than the previous year. There were 551 alcohol-related car accident fatalities in Dallas County in 2022 with a reduction of over 200 alcohol-related fatalities in 2023, with the total for the year ending at 349 alcohol-related fatalities. The number of motorcycle accidents remained relatively steady. There were 46 in Dallas in 2022 and 42 in 2023. The total number of individuals injured in accidents went up by over 500, with 25,142 injuries in 2023 and 25,708 in 2022.

Dallas County20222023
Total MVAs54,55552,115
Fatalities322332
Injuries25,70825,142
Alcohol-Related Fatalities551349
Motorcycle Fatalities4642

Harris County Accident Statistics

The number of accidents stayed relatively steady in Harris County. There were 115, 806 accidents in Harris County in 2022. There were 116,473 accidents reported to TXDOT in Harris County in 2023.

The number of fatal car accidents dropped from 559 in 2022 to 534 in 2023.

The number of alcohol-related fatalities had an even greater drop from 834 alcohol-related fatalities in Harris County in 2022 to 701 alcohol-related traffic accident deaths in 2023.

The number of motorcycle accidents went from 110 in 2023 to 100 in 2022 in Harris County. The total number of injuries arising from traffic accidents dropped by about a thousand from 2022 to 2023, going from 47,598 to 46,569.

Harris County20222023
Total MVAs115,806116,743
Fatalities559534
Injuries46,56947,598
Alcohol-Related Fatalities834701
Motorcycle Fatalities110100

Bexar County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

The total number of accidents in Bexar County rose from 47,467 in 2022 to 48,690 in 2023. The number of fatalities from traffic accidents in Bexar over that same period dropped from 247 to 209.

Bexar20222023
Total MVAs47,46748,690
Fatalities247209
Injuries19,85120,077
Alcohol-Related Fatalities318132
Motorcycle Fatalities2837

Massive Drop in Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities in Bexar County in 2023

Even more remarkably, the number of alcohol-related traffic accident deaths dropped from 318 to 132, a reduction of almost 58%, the greatest drop in the cities mentioned in this article. According to the Office of Court Administration, in 2023 about 10% more misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases were filed in Bexar County than were filed the previous year.

First-Time DWIs Reduced in Bexar, But in More Limited Circumstances in 2023

Bexar County offers reductions of first-time DWIs to Obstruction of Highway charges, but in 2023 changed their policy to no longer allow those if the blood alcohol concentration was over .15 or if there was an accident. The county reported a 3% lower recidivism rate for individuals who pled to Obstruction charges compared to those who pled to DWI charges.

Motorcycle accident fatalities in Bexar County increased from 28 to 37 from 2022 to 2023. The total number of injuries arising from traffic accidents in Bexar County dropped marginally from 20,077 in 2022 to 19,851 in 2023.

Driving While Intoxicated Filings vs. Intoxication-Related Fatalities in Texas 

Dallas, Tarrant, and Harris County all saw reductions in alcohol-related fatalities and misdemeanor DWI cases filed. Bexar County, which had the greatest reduction in alcohol-related fatalities, had about 10% more misdemeanor DWI cases filed in 2023 when compared to 2022.

DWIs Filed in Large Counties in Texas in 2022 and 2023

County Level Changes in DWIs and

Statewide, filings of misdemeanor DWIs dropped about 3.4% while alcohol-related motor vehicle accident deaths dropped by over 25%.

DWI filing have decreased in Texas, so have intoxication-related deaths.

 

Funding for Texas Road Improvements

Texas Department of Transportation’s Unified Transportation Program has a massive impact on North Texas roadways. TxDoT has earmarked $5.2 billion for projects in the Fort Worth area and $11.5 billion earmarked for projects around Dallas. This 10-year investment is part of $142 billion that will be poured into Texas roadways.

Overall, there’s much to be proud of. We’ve reduced the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents and even mores the number of alcohol-related fatalities on Texas roadways. While advancements are being made with technology in vehicles and improvements to our roadways, there is still a long way to go to get to the goal of zero fatalities by 2050.

Varghese Summersett

More than a thousand people move to Texas daily, which means more drivers are traveling on our 200,000 miles of state-maintained roadways. To keep up with the influx, state officials have invested billions of dollars to make our roads safer.

Still, it’s been 23 years since a day went by without a traffic fatality in Texas.

And while this is a very stark statistic, Texas envisions a future with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. It has adopted a “Road to Zero” plan to reduce traffic fatalities on Texas roads to zero by 2050, and half by 2035.

So, how are we doing? Let’s look at crash statistics from the past two years.

Texas Crash Data

Have you ever wondered what happens to Texas crash reports after an accident? Where do they go from your local police department? These reports –  whether filed by police or drivers through blue forms – are submitted to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).

Those reports are then entered into the Crash Records Information System (CRIS), an extensive database maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. It contains data from every crash report filed in Texas. It is an exhaustive database from which useful information can be mined.

In this post, we will share our findings after doing just that – analyzing data from CRIS and other government agencies. You’ll find information here you won’t find anywhere else.

For example, it’s easy to track the increase or decrease in accidents based on crash type, but the information tells a much more helpful story when combined with other sources of information, such as data on population growth in Texas over the same period.

So, let’s jump right in and compare 2022 against 2023, the most recent years complete car crash statistics are available.

The Number of Crashes in Texas Held Steady in 2023

Overall, there were 3,367 more accidents reported in 2023 than in 2022. That is less than a 1 percent increase in the total number of crashes. There were 555,586 accidents in 2022 and 558,953 accidents in 2023. That translates to:

  • 1,531 accidents per day in Texas in 2023
  • 46,579 accidents per month;
  • 10,748 accidents per week.

That’s just over 1 accident per minute in Texas in 2023.

 20222023
Total Crash Count555,586558,953
Population30,026,54730,500,000
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage50,65448,355
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury165,973169,203
Fatal Crashes3,9653,855
Total Number of Fatalities4,4074,268
Total Number of Injuries244,325250,182

Texas Population Growth Against Crash Data

Let’s compare this against population growth. Texas, the second-largest state in the U.S. by both area and population, sees a vast amount of traffic on its roads each day. Texas grew in population by 1.6 percent last year, adding more people than any other state in the nation last year, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Although there were more crashes in Texas last year, the rate at which crashes increased was less than the rate that the population grew by.

Increase in accidents in Texas vs. population growth from 2022 to 2023.

Fatal Car Crashes Were Down in Texas

In 2023, there were 3,855 fatal car crashes in Texas, compared to 3,965 in 2022. That’s a 2.8 percent reduction in fatal car crashes, even while the population increased by 1.6 percent. Those crashes resulted in 4,268 lost lives in 2023 and 4,407 in 2022. 

While even a single death is one too many, a reduction in fatal crashes is at least a step in the right direction. Advanced safety features in modern vehicles, combined with highway improvements and increased education, have likely contributed to the reduction of traffic fatalities across Texas.

Total Number of Injuries from Motor Vehicle Accidents Went Up in 2023

The Number of Texans Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents Went Up

And while fatalities decreased, the number of people injured in vehicle accidents increased in Texas. In 2023, 250,182 people were injured in vehicle accidents, compared to 244,325 the year before. That’s 5,857 more injuries from motor vehicle accidents in Texas in 2023 than in 2022. That is an increase of about 2.3 percent, slightly more than the increase in population in Texas over the same period of time.

Total Number of Injuries Went Up in Texas in 2023

Remarkable Reduction in Alcohol-Related Accidents in Texas in 2023

Drunk driving crashes are a serious problem in Texas, but fortunately, we are seeing a downward trend – especially in alcohol-related fatalities. In 2023, 3,547 people died in alcohol-related accidents, compared to 4,756 the year before, despite a 1.6 percent increase in population. This represents a 25.4 percent reduction in alcohol-related accident deaths in 2023.

Alcohol-related crashes overall were down, as well. In 2023, there were 23,844 alcohol-related crashes, compared to 24,951 the year before. That’s 1,107 fewer alcohol-related accidents, representing a 4.4 percent decrease.

 

 2022 Alcohol-Related Crashes2023 Alcohol-Related Crashes
Total Crash Count24,95123,844
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage71706606
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury24,92124,262
Fatal Crashes39462916
Total Number of Fatalities47563547
Total Number of Injuries49,52947,384

Driving While Intoxicated Filings vs. Intoxication-Related Fatalities in Texas 

Dallas, Tarrant, and Harris County all saw reductions in alcohol-related fatality crashes and misdemeanor DWI cases. Bexar County, which had the greatest reduction in alcohol-related fatalities, had about 10 percent more misdemeanor DWI cases filed in 2023 when compared to 2022. 

DWIs Filed in Large Counties in Texas in 2022 and 2023

County Level Changes in DWIs and

Statewide, filings of misdemeanor DWIs dropped about 3.4 percent while alcohol-related motor vehicle accident deaths dropped by over 25 percent.

DWI filing have decreased in Texas, so have intoxication-related deaths.

Dallas County Accidents

In 2023, there were 52,115 accidents in Dallas County, compared to 54,555 in 2022 – a decrease of 2,440 car accidents. And while the total number of accidents went down, fatalities were slightly up at 332 – 10 more than the previous year.

The number of alcohol-related fatalities went down significantly with 349 in 2023, compared to 551 in 2022. 

The number of motorcycle accidents remained almost the same, with 42 in 2023 and 46 in 2022. The total number of individuals injured in accidents went up by over 500, with 25,142 injuries in 2023 and 25,708 in 2022.

Dallas County20222023
Total MVAs54,55552,115
Fatalities322332
Injuries25,70825,142
Alcohol-Related Fatalities551349
Motorcycle Fatalities4642

Tarrant County Accident Statistics

There were 29,043 accidents reported in Tarrant County in 2023, up 34 accidents from 2022, a virtual dead heat. There were 13 more fatalities from car accidents in Tarrant County in 2023 compared to 2022, with 215 and 202, respectively.

There were 120 alcohol-related car accident fatalities in Tarrant County in 2023 – and 21 more than the previous year.

The number of motorcycle fatalities jumped from 40 in 2022 to 54 in 2023.

Tarrant County20222023
Total MVAs29,00929,043
Fatalities202215
Injuries15,83115,698
Alcohol-Related Fatalities141120
Motorcycle Fatalities4054

Harris County Accident Statistics

The number of accidents stayed relatively steady in Harris County. There were 116,437 accidents in 2023, compared to 116,473 accidents reported to TXDOT  in 2022.

The total number of fatal car accidents dropped from 559 in 2022 to 534 in 2023.

The number of alcohol-related fatalities had an even greater drop from 834 alcohol-related fatalities in Harris County in 2022 to 701 alcohol-related traffic accident deaths in 2023.

The number of motorcycle accidents went from 110 in 2023 to 100 in 2022. The total number of injuries arising from traffic accidents went up, from 46,569 in 2022 to 47,598 in 2023.

Harris County20222023
Total MVAs115,806116,743
Fatalities559534
Injuries46,56947,598
Alcohol-Related Fatalities834701
Motorcycle Fatalities110100

Bexar County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

The total number of accidents in Bexar County rose from 47,467 in 2022 to 48,690 in 2023. Meanwhile, the number of traffic fatalities dropped from 247 in 2022 to 209 the next year.

Bexar20222023
Total MVAs47,46748,690
Fatalities247209
Injuries19,85120,077
Alcohol-Related Fatalities318132
Motorcycle Fatalities2837

Massive Drop in Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities in Bexar County in 2023

Even more remarkably, the number of alcohol-related traffic accident deaths dropped from 318 to 132, a reduction of almost 58 percent, the most significant drop in the cities mentioned in this article. According to the Office of Court Administration, in 2023 about 10 percent more misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases were filed in Bexar County than the previous year.

First-Time DWIs Reduced in Bexar, But in More Limited Circumstances in 2023

Bexar County will offer reductions for a first-time DWI to an obstruction of highway charge, but in 2023, officials changed their policy to no longer allow reductions if the blood alcohol concentration was over .15 or if there was an accident. The county reported a 3 percent lower recidivism rate for individuals who pled to obstruction charges compared to those who pled to DWI charges.

Motorcycle accident fatalities in Bexar County increased from 28 in 2022 to 37 in 2023. The total number of injuries arising from traffic accidents in Bexar County increased from 19,851 in 2022 to 20,077.

Travis County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

Travis County saw a slight decrease in motor vehicle accidents from 17,468 accidents in 2022 to 17,257 accidents in 2023, a reduction of 2.2 percent. The total number of fatalities went down by 5.3 percent and the number of alcohol-related fatalities went down by nearly 27 percent. Like many other counties, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities went up. In Travis County specifically, it went up nearly 13 percent in 2023.

Travis County20222023
Total Crash Count17,64817,257
Total Number of Fatalities169160
Total Number of Injuries11,10510,831
Alcohol-Related Fatalities205150
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities3135

Collin County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

In Collin County, motor vehicle accidents increased by 7.4 percent – from 13,824 in 2022 to 14,846 in 2023. The number of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents dropped from 76 in 2022 to 62 in 2023, an 18 percent reduction.

The total number of alcohol-related fatalities also dropped, from 70 in 2022 to 45 in 2023 –  a 36% reduction. Collin County saw two fewer motorcycle-related deaths, dropping from 19 in 2022 to 17 in 2023.

Collin County20222023
Total Crash Count13,82414,846
Total Number of Fatalities7662
Total Number of Injuries6,8217,242
Alcohol-Related Fatalities7045
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities1917

Denton County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

Denton County had 12,262 total vehicle accidents in 2023, up from 11,966 the previous year – a 2.4 percent decrease. The total number of fatalities stemming from motor vehicle accidents increased from 48 in 2022 to 51 in 2023. There was nearly a 60 percent increase in alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths in 2023 compared to the previous year in Denton County, jumping from 25 to 40. The most dramatic increase in deaths was the nearly doubling of motorcycle-related deaths, jumping from 8 in 2022 to 17 in 2023.

Denton County20222023
Total Crash Count11,96612,262
Total Number of Fatalities4851
Total Number of Injuries4,7475,083
Alcohol-Related Fatalities2540
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities817

Hidalgo County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

In 2023, Hidalgo County had an increase in crashes, from 17327 in 2022 to 17746 the following year – 2.4 percent increase. There was an increase in the number of fatalities from 76 to 83 during the same period, an increase of 9.2 percent. The number of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities dropped from 129 to 116, a reduction of 10 percent, and the number of motorcycle accident-related fatalities dropped from 10 to 6 in 2023.

Hidalgo County20222023
Total Crash Count17,32717,746
Total Number of Fatalities7683
Total Number of Injuries9,53910,160
Alcohol-Related Fatalities129116
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities106

El Paso County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

El Paso County saw a 3.15 percent drop in the total number of motor vehicle accidents in 2023 as compared to 2022, from 19471 to 18857. There was a nearly 7 percent increase in the number of fatalities arising from motor vehicle accidents, going from 89 in 2022 to 95 in 2023. There was a 30 percent increase in the number of alcohol-related fatalities, jumping from 76 to 99, and an 85 percent decrease in motorcycle-related fatalities dropping from 20 deaths in 2022 to 3 deaths in 2023.

El Paso County20222023
Total Crash Count19,47118,857
Total Number of Fatalities8995
Total Number of Injuries7,0117,797
Alcohol-Related Fatalities7699
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities203

Fort Bend County Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

In 2023, Fort Bend County had 11,549 total crashes – a 10 percent increase from the year before when there were 10,496 crashes. There was a 26 percent increase in the number of motor vehicle accident-related deaths, but a nearly 4 percent reduction in alcohol-related deaths. The number of motorcycle fatalities increased by one.

Fort Bend County20222023
Total Crash Count10,49611,549
Total Number of Fatalities3443
Total Number of Injuries3,9464,379
Alcohol-Related Fatalities2625
Motorcycle-Related Fatalities78

Motorcycle Accidents Increased in Texas in 2023

In 2023, there were 278 more motorcycle accidents than the year before, representing a 3.3 percent increase. There was also an increase in motorcycle accident fatalities – with 54 more fatalies in 2023, compared to 2022, which is a 7.7 percent increase.

 2022 Motorcycle Crashes2023 Motorcycle Crashes
Total Crash Count8,3588,636
Non-Injury, Non-Fatal Crashes with Property Damage130124
Non-Fatal Crashes With Injury75957790
Fatal Crashes662702
Total Number of Fatalities702756
Total Number of Injuries95429718

Funding for Texas Road Improvements

Keeping Texas roadways safe is no small feat. That’s why the Lone Star State has the Unified Transportation Program (UTP), which is TxDot’s 10-year plan that guides transportation project development across the state. 

UTP authorizes the distribution of dollars to fund the state’s highest-priority transportation projects. For example, TxDoT has earmarked $5.2 billion for projects in the Fort Worth area and $11.5 billion for projects around Dallas. This 10-year investment is part of $142 billion that will be poured into Texas roadways in an effort to enhance safety, improve congestion and connectivity, and preserve roadways.

The Road to Zero Goal

In 2019, the Texas Transporation Commission established the Road to Zero initiative. The goal is to reduce the number of deaths on Texas roadways by half by the year 2035 and zero by the year 2025.

In doing so, the Texas Transportation Commission acknowledged that most motor vehicle crashes and preventable and directed TxDot to develop and implement strategies to achieve this goal.

At the time of this article, the last deathless day on Texas roadways was on November 7, 2000. That means a person has died every single day for more than 23 years. 

And while that is a very sobering statistic, we have made progress. The latest car crash statistics show that we’ve reduced the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents – including those involving alcohol – on Texas roadways even with the population increase.

Hopefully, with ongoing advancements in automotive technology, infrastructure safety enhancements, and robust educational campaigns, we will see a continued decline in these numbers year after year.  Still, we have a very long way to go to get to the goal of zero fatalities by 2050.

 

Varghese Summersett

Aggravated Assault is a felony assault charge that is commonly filed in Fort Worth and throughout Texas. It is defined under Texas Penal Code Section 22.02 and is generally considered an assault that is made more serious due to certain aggravating factors. Surprisingly to many, and as our Aggravated Assault Lawyer Fort Worth explains, this charge does not require actual physical injuries. Learn more about Aggravated Assault, including Aggravated Assault by Threat (which does not require any injury) below. 

Types of Aggravated Assault in Texas

Here are the distinctions between the different types of aggravated assault:

Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon

This occurs when an individual uses or exhibits a deadly weapon (e.g., a firearm, knife) during the commission of an assault. The presence of a deadly weapon elevates the severity of the offense.

Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury

This involves causing serious bodily injury to another person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Serious bodily injury refers to an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Aggravated Assault by Threat

Because Texas has the offense of Assault by Threat under Penal Code 22.01, an aggravated assault by threat case can be filed if the allegation is that a person threatened imminent bodily injury while using or exhibiting a deadly weapon.

What is Serious Bodily Injury vs. Bodily Injury in Texas

“Bodily Injury” in Texas law means any form of physical harm inflicted upon an individual. This includes not just visible injuries but also internal conditions that induce physical pain, illness, or any impairment, however temporary, of an individual’s physical capabilities. In legal proceedings, establishing bodily injury is foundational to validating claims of physical harm, though it’s worth noting that the scope of bodily injury, while encompassing a range of physical ailments, doesn’t inherently imply a severe or long-lasting condition.

In stark contrast, “Serious Bodily Injury” denotes a more grave condition. Legally, it’s characterized as an injury that presents a substantial risk of death, or that results in enduring or significant disfigurement, or long-term loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. This definition is pivotal in cases where the severity of the injury elevates the stakes, potentially leading to heightened compensations or more severe legal repercussions for the party at fault.

what can be considered a deadly weapon in Texas

What is a deadly weapon in Texas?

Any object that, in the manner of its use or intended use, is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. This definition encompasses not just inherently dangerous objects like guns or knives, but also seemingly ordinary objects that can be used in a way that makes them capable of causing significant harm. For instance, a car driven recklessly or a rope used to strangle someone can be considered a deadly weapon in this context.

What is the punishment range for Aggravated Assault in Texas?

Aggravated Assault is usually a second degree felony but it can become a first degree felony under certain circumstances.

  1. Second-Degree Felony (the default categorization for aggravated assault):

    • Imprisonment: 2 to 20 years in a state prison.
    • Fine: Up to $10,000.
  2. First-Degree Felony (if certain aggravating factors are present, such as the victim being a public servant, a witness, a security officer, or if the offense is committed in a domestic situation or involves a deadly weapon and results in serious bodily injury to a family member or partner):

    • Imprisonment: 5 to 99 years, or life, in a state prison.
    • Fine: Up to $10,000.

Defenses Described by Aggravated Assault Lawyer Fort Worth

In Texas, affirmative defenses are legal defenses used in criminal cases where the defendant admits to the conduct that forms the basis of the charge but argues that there was a justifiable reason for the conduct under the law. For the charge of aggravated assault, several affirmative defenses might be applicable, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Some of the common affirmative defenses include:

  1. Self-Defense: Arguably the most common affirmative defense, self-defense is claiming that the defendant committed the act of assault to protect themselves from the imminent and unlawful use of force by another individual. The use of force must be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances to prevent harm to oneself.

  2. Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, this defense involves the use of force to protect another person. The defendant must reasonably believe that the person they are defending is in immediate danger of bodily harm and that the use of force is necessary to prevent that harm.

  3. Defense of Property: In some cases, a person may use force to defend their property from unlawful interference or theft. However, the use of force must be reasonable and proportionate to the threat posed.

  4. Duress: This defense is used when the defendant claims that they were forced to commit the assault due to an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death from another person. The threat must be present, immediate, or impending at the time of the offense, and there must be no reasonable escape from the threat other than committing the assault.

  5. Necessity: The defense of necessity is used when the defendant argues that they committed the act to prevent a greater harm. The harm prevented must be more significant than the harm caused by the assault, and there must be no other legal alternatives available to avoid the harm.

  6. Lack of Mental State: In some cases, the defendant may argue that they did not have the required mental state (intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly) to commit aggravated assault. This might involve proving that the act was accidental or a result of a misunderstanding.

  7. Mistake of Fact: This defense is applicable if the defendant had a reasonable belief about a fact that, if true, would make the conduct lawful. It must be a reasonable mistake and cannot be used if the belief was based on recklessness or negligence.

Charged? Call our Aggravated Assault Fort Worth Lawyer

If you have been charged with aggravated assault in Fort Worth or anywhere in Tarrant County, give us a call. We have successfully resolved allegations of aggravated assault time and time again. You can reach us at (817) 203-2220. 

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Varghese Summersett

If you live in Texas, you are probably aware that you can look up registered sex offenders in your area through an online database managed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Now, another database – for repeat family violence offenders – is now accessible to the public.

Last summer, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 5202, which mandates that the Texas Department of Public Safety create and maintain a database of people with two or more intimate partner violence convictions.

In this article, the criminal defense attorneys at Varghese Summersett will explain the new law, what information will be contained in the family violence offender database, and what it means for people who have been convicted of repeat family violence in Texas.

Texas Family Violence Offender Database

HB 5202: History of the Texas Family Violence Offender Database

The idea to create a Texas family violence offender database that contains information about repeat domestic abusers stemmed from a 2015 murder case in San Jose., California, where Dallas Police Eddie Garica served before coming to Texas.

In 2015, Alessandra Barlas, 27,  was killed by an ex-boyfriend in San Jose. After her death, her parents learned her ex-boyfriend had served time in prison for attempting to murder another former girlfriend. The family believed that if Barlas knew his history of domestic violence, she would have gotten out before it was too late.

They started the Allesandra Foundation and worked with Chief Garcia to get a law passed to establish an offender database to identify convicted abusers. Chief Garcia and the family couldn’t get the intimate partner violence database law passed in California, but Garcia pursued the legislation when he moved to Texas. He took the idea to State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado (D-Dallas), who authored HB 5202 during the 88th Texas Legislature. Gov. Gregg Abbott signed it into law on June 11, 2023.

New Law: Texas Family Violence Offender Database

The New Law: Central Database of Offenders Who Have Committed Certain Offenses

The new law, which can be found in Section 411.1355 of the Texas Penal Code, creates a central database of offenders who have committed certain violent offenses. It specifies that DPS must maintain a computerized central database containing information about people who, on two or more occasions, have been convicted of any of the following offenses:

The database contains the following information, to the extent it is available:

  • The person’s full name, each alias used by the person, and the person’s date of birth;
  • A physical description and a recent photograph of the person;
  • A list of the applicable offenses of which the person was convicted, the date of conviction of each offense, and the punishment for each offense; and
  • An indication as to whether the person was discharged, placed on community supervision, or released on parole or to mandatory supervision following conviction of each offense

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Unlocking Safety: Board Certified Attorney Benson Varghese unveils Texas' groundbreaking Family Violence Database. ?? Empowering Lives, Ensuring Safety. #FamilyLaw #safetyfirst #TexasJustice #LegaIinsights#ProtectingFamilies #DVDatabase #Texas #LegalInnovation #EmpowerWithLaw

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What Constitutes Family Violence in Texas?

To be added to the database, the judge must make an affirmative finding that the offense involved family violence. Under Texas law, family violence means:

1) an act committed by a family or household member against another, intending to cause physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, or creating a threat that reasonably instills fear of imminent physical harm;

2) abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or

3) dating violence.

It’s important to note that the law recognizes dating relationships as part of the family definition. That means violence against someone with whom you are or were in a dating relationship could be eligible for registration to the intimate partner violence database if other criteria or met.

New Law: Texas Family Violence Offender Database

Accessing the Texas Family Violence Offender Database

The new database, which is formally called the “Violent Offender Database – Family Violence and Stalking – went live in December. You can find it here at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website.

Petition for Removal from The Texas Family Violence Offender Database

The new law states that a person may petition DPS to remove their names from the Texas family violence database if one of the following is met:

  • An expunction was ordered for his or her offense that required registration in the database (unless he or she has been convicted more than three times of an applicable offense.)
  • The person has not been convicted of another applicable offense in seven years.

New Law: Texas Family Violence Offender Database

Accused of Repeat Domestic Violence? Contact Us.

If you have been accused of repeated family violence, it’s imperative to have an experienced, skilled attorney representing you. Not only are you facing possible jail time, but now your name can be included in a public database, easily accessible by anyone, including potential employers. This can cause damage to your reputation and future opportunities.

The criminal defense team at Varghese Summersett has extensive experience handling cases alleging domestic violence or intimate partner violence. We have handled hundreds of felony family violence cases in North Texas – first as prosecutors and now as highly sought-after defense attorneys. The best defense lawyers understand the prosecution’s playbook. Call us at 817-203-2220 today to speak with a lawyer who knows the system and will work tirelessly for the best possible outcome.

New Law: Texas Family Violence Offender Database

 

 

Varghese Summersett

If you or a loved one has been charged with assault family violence in Texas, you may be trying to figure out exactly what the term means. Assault family violence Texas encompasses any intentional harm or threat toward a family member, which itself is a broadly defined term. The charge carries significant social stigma and punishments ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Knowing your rights, potential penalties, and defense strategies is essential in this circumstance. This article written by our assault defense lawyer offers a comprehensive guide to the critical aspects of assault family violence in Texas.

assault family violence allegations

Assault Family Violence Texas Defined

In Texas, assault family violence is an intentional or reckless act causing injury or threatening to cause injury to a person considered a ‘family member.’ The law expands this offense to include behavior that qualifies as ‘family violence,’ making it an offense to engage in such behavior. The term ‘assault’ is broad, defined in Penal Code Section 22.01 as:

  • intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another
  • the threat of imminent bodily injury
  • causing physical contact that the person knows or should reasonably believe the other will regard as offensive or provocative.

Family violence, according to Texas law, is an act committed by a family or household member against another, intending to cause:

  • physical harm
  • bodily injury
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • creating a threat that reasonably instills fear of imminent physical harm

Grasping these definitions provides a foundation for unraveling the complexities of assault family violence in Texas.

who is a family member in texas

The Definition of “Family” Under Texas Law

‘Family,’ as defined by Texas law, includes individuals connected by ‘consanguinity,’ covering blood relations or affinity, which includes individuals related not only by blood but also by affections, such as a person’s spouse. ‘Consanguinity’ pertains to blood relations, while ‘affinity’ encompasses relationships established through marriage or other non-blood connections, such as a person’s spouse.

The law also recognizes dating relationships as part of the family definition. A dating relationship in this context refers to individuals who are or have been involved in a romantic or intimate relationship. This involves a continuing connection of a romantic or intimate nature..

The wide-ranging definition of ‘family’ under Texas law encompasses a variety of relationships in assault family violence cases.

Types of Conduct That Constitute Family Violence

Several forms of conduct can be considered family violence under Texas law. Physical assault, threats, and continuous violence are the various types of conduct that can be considered family violence under Texas law. Continuous family violence is a pattern of abuse directed towards a family or household member, recognized as a distinct form of behavior under Texas law.

Physical assault, in the context of family violence, is defined as the intentional and knowing act of violence against a family member, household member, or a current or past dating partner. Grasping these diverse forms of conduct aids in pinpointing and addressing family violence occurrences.

Severity of Family Violence in Texas: Misdemeanor to Felony

defending family violence charges

Assault family violence charges in Texas can be graded as a Class A misdemeanor, second degree felony, or third degree felony, based on the specific circumstances involved. An initial offense is usually a misdemeanor, with subsequent offenses escalating to third-degree felonies.

Assault can generally vary, ranging from a Class C Misdemeanor to a Second Degree Felony. This means that the consequences can be significant depending on the specific circumstances. A Class C offense is punishable by a fine only. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail. Third-degree felonies in Texas carry a minimum prison term of two years and a maximum of ten years, along with a potential fine of up to $10,000. Second degree felonies are 2-20 years. Grasping the grading system aids in understanding the legal repercussions of assault family violence.

When Assault Family Violence Becomes a Third Degree Felony

An Assault Family Violence charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony if there is a pattern of ongoing violence against the family or if the individual has a previous conviction for family violence. Continuous violence against the family, recognized in Texas law, covers numerous instances of domestic abuse within a specified period. It is classified as a third-degree felony and is subject to a maximum prison term of 10 years and a potential fine of $10,000.

In Texas, when a person commits an offense of repeated family violence, the state handles it with increased severity, potentially resulting in heightened penalties. Repeat offenders may be subject to the Three Strike Law, which imposes the most severe penalties and could elevate the charge to a third-degree felony.

Enhanced Penalties for Aggravated Assault Family Violence

Aggravated assault family violence is an offense in which a person engages in assault and either inflicts serious bodily injury on another individual, such as their spouse, or employs or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault. Individuals convicted of this offense are subject to a second-degree felony charge, carrying a penalty of 2 to 20 years of imprisonment.

The charge could be escalated to aggravated assault family violence if there is severe physical assault, the use of a deadly weapon, or a significant degree of injury inflicted on the victim. If a deadly weapon was used in the assault resulting in physical harm to the victim, the charge may be elevated to a first-degree felony, carrying a potential prison sentence of 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Family Violence Charges and Deportation

A family violence or domestic violence conviction will result in deportation, albeit not inadmissibility. This can be for a misdemeanor or a felony. It also does not require time in custody. Probation qualifies as a conviction. Whether or not deferred qualifies as a conviction depends in part on who is asking the question. The feds generally consider even a deferred sentence to be a conviction. Arguments can be made as to whether or not placement on deferred constituted a limitation of the person’s liberty, thereby meeting the second prong for what the feds consider a conviction. Consult with an immigration attorney when in doubt.

family violence and deportation

Legal Protections Against Assault Family Violence

There are legal protections in place to help prevent and address assault family violence in Texas. Courts have the authority to grant protective orders for victims of domestic abuse or dating violence, and there are more severe penalties for individuals convicted of these offenses.

Texas law offers comprehensive protection to victims of family violence, shielding them from harm, abuse, or the threat of harm or abuse. Restraining orders, also referred to as protective orders, are frequently employed in Texas to deter instances of family violence, encompassing violence within dating relationships and sexual assaults. They are used within the civil context to prevent immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage.

Defense Strategies for Assault Family Violence Allegations

Individuals accused of assault family violence can utilize various defense strategies. Self-defense is admissible as a defense in assault family violence cases in Texas, provided that the force employed is commensurate with the assault being resisted. Under the law, self-defense is a valid defense strategy in family violence cases.

Evidence that may be utilized to substantiate a self-defense assertion includes demonstrating a reasonable belief of an imminent threat, establishing that the defendant was in immediate danger, and showing that the use of force was necessary to prevent serious injury. Attorneys can utilize multiple tactics to refute the alleged victim’s account, such as questioning the prosecution’s burden of proof, introducing self-defense evidence, undermining the alleged victim’s credibility, and showing an absence of intent or mistaken identity.

Claiming Self-Defense in Domestic Assault Cases

In accordance with Texas law, self-defense is deemed justifiable when an individual holds a reasonable belief that the use of force is essential to safeguard their life or well-being. To assert self-defense in a domestic assault case in Texas, certain criteria must be satisfied, including the establishment of all four elements of the defense.

Nonetheless, self-defense cannot be claimed in Texas domestic assault cases if the danger is not immediate or if the use of deadly force is deemed excessive. To substantiate a self-defense claim in a Texas domestic assault case, required evidence often comprises witness statements, physical proof, and any relevant evidence demonstrating a reasonable belief in the necessity of force to avoid imminent harm or injury.

Challenging the Alleged Victim’s Account

There are several techniques for challenging the alleged victim’s account of events, including inconsistencies and lack of evidence. In a court of law, inconsistencies in the victim’s account can be established through various strategies, including:

  • scrutinizing inconsistencies within the victim’s testimony
  • challenging the victim with prior inconsistent statements
  • cross-examination to reveal any inconsistencies or hidden agendas in the victim’s testimony
  • presenting conflicting witness testimonies
  • emphasizing the lack of independent witnesses

These techniques can help cast doubt on the allegations.

Physical proof, such as photographs of injuries, plays an essential role in challenging the alleged victim’s story, providing an impartial basis for disputing the reliability or severity of the charges. Defense attorneys have the ability to cast doubt on the dependability or trustworthiness of the victim’s testimony through cross-examination, scrutinizing the victim’s recollection, perspective, or partiality, and emphasizing any discrepancies.

Impact of Assault Family Violence Convictions

The impact of assault family violence convictions can be far-reaching. Federal law usually prohibits people with felony convictions from possessing or owning firearms for the rest of their lives after being released from prison. This law aims to prevent potential harm and promote public safety. A domestic assault family violence conviction in Texas can have far-reaching consequences for an individual, impacting their educational, military, and employment opportunities.

In Texas, a restraining order is a legal directive that prohibits an individual from contacting the purported victim or approaching within a specified distance of their place of residence or employment. It is formulated to safeguard the safety of the purported victim by legally constraining the actions of the convicted individual subsequent to an assault conviction involving a family member.

Loss of Rights Following a Felony Conviction

Upon a felony conviction in Texas, individuals forfeit the following rights:

  • The right to serve on a jury panel
  • The right to hold public office
  • The right to possess a firearm until five years after their release from prison or parole

Additionally, individuals convicted of a felony for assault family violence in Texas are not permitted to own firearms.

A felony conviction for assault family violence in Texas results in the individual being ineligible to vote until their felony sentence is completely discharged. In addition to the loss of civil liberties and firearm ownership, a felony conviction for assault family violence may impact other rights such as:

  • Difficulties in obtaining a hunting or fishing license
  • Adverse effects on divorce or child custody proceedings
  • Challenges in fostering or adopting a child
  • Potential loss of legal residence status for non-natural-born citizens.

Navigating Life Post-Conviction

Living post-conviction can be challenging for individuals with a criminal record, as they often face difficulties when seeking employment due to their legal history, restricted job options, and industry-specific legal limitations. However, it’s important to remember that a conviction does not define a person’s future. With the right support and resources, it’s possible to rebuild one’s life after a conviction.

The journey can be difficult, but knowing your rights and being aware of available opportunities can make all the difference. It’s crucial to remain proactive, seek professional assistance when necessary, and always keep an eye on the future. Remember, your past does not have to dictate your future.

How to Handle Charges of Assault Family Violence

Being charged with assault family violence can be daunting. Knowing the steps to take under such circumstances is crucial. If you are accused of assaulting a family member in Texas, it’s advisable to:

  1. Seek guidance from a criminal defense attorney.
  2. Consult with an attorney before interacting with the police or admitting guilt.
  3. Understand the potential severe penalties associated with such charges.

An individual accused of family assault in Texas has the right to engage a criminal defense attorney for their legal defense. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is crucial for an individual facing domestic violence accusations in Texas, as they have legal rights, and a skilled defense attorney can help them challenge their case.

Steps to Take Immediately After Being Charged

If you are accused of assault family violence, it’s vital to know your legal rights and take prompt measures to defend yourself. Individuals charged with assault family violence in Texas have the right to:

  • Hire a criminal defense attorney for their defense
  • Immediately secure legal representation following the accusation
  • Have a lawyer guide them throughout the legal process
  • Strive for dismissal or acquittal at trial
  • Receive assistance in expunging records

Taking these steps can help protect your rights and ensure a fair legal process.

Following an accusation of assault family violence, it is important to gather various documents as evidence. These include the crime report, photographs of injuries or property damages, 911 tapes, medical records, witness statements, prior history of domestic violence, and any other relevant information provided by the individual or others. Additionally, the accused can protect themselves by seeking bail and by hiring a criminal defense attorney to help refute the charges.

The Importance of Varghese Summersett – a Skilled Defense Attorney

A skilled defense attorney, like those at Varghese Summersett, plays a crucial role in achieving the best possible outcome in assault family violence cases. Varghese Summersett is a legal firm that focuses on domestic violence cases, particularly assault family violence charges. Their significance in these cases stems from their specialized expertise and extensive experience in addressing intricate legal matters related to family violence, including those associated with divorce and family conflicts.

Varghese Summersett boasts an impressive track record in managing assault family violence cases, including:

  • Proficiency in advocating for clients in the legal setting
  • Vast experience in managing assault family violence cases
  • Meticulousness in navigating the complexities of the law
  • Providing a comprehensive defense strategy customized to individual circumstances

This track record and expertise ensure that clients receive top-notch representation.

Summary

In conclusion, understanding the legal complexities surrounding assault family violence in Texas is crucial. From understanding the legal definitions to navigating the legal implications, it’s a vast landscape. It’s also essential to know the rights and protections available, and the invaluable role a skilled defense attorney, like those at Varghese Summersett, can play. Remember, no matter the circumstances, you have the right to a solid defense and the opportunity to rebuild your life post-conviction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of charge is assault in Texas?

Assault in Texas can result in penalties ranging from a fine to prison time, depending on the severity of the offense. Class C Misdemeanor incurs a fine of up to $500, while a Third Degree Felony can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What is a third degree felony assault on a family member in Texas?

In Texas, a third-degree felony assault on a family member occurs if it is a second offense or if choking is alleged. It is classified as a third-degree felony.

What is the statute of limitations on assault family violence in Texas?

In Texas, the statute of limitations on assault family violence is typically 3 years. It’s important to gather evidence such as documentation of abuse to support your case.

How do you beat aggravated assault charge in Texas?

To beat an aggravated assault charge in Texas, common defenses include claiming self-defense, lack of intent or mistaken identity, justifying the use of force to protect oneself or others, and proving insanity or mental incapacity in specific cases at the time of the incident.

Is spitting on someone a crime in texas?

Yes, spitting on someone in Texas is considered a crime under the Texas Penal Code, Section 22.01 on assault, and can result in being charged with a class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500.

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Fort Worth Hotel Explosion

It has been a week since the Fort Worth hotel explosion rocked Fort Worth. The area surrounding the Sandman Signature Hotel, including portions of Throckmorton Street, remains closed to the public.

We know that 21 people were injured, one critically, and four more were seriously injured. We have heard reports of at least one person smelling gas before the explosion and there was a strong smell of gas after the blast. We know that three employees inside the restaurant in the hotel were injured but are in stable condition.

We also know the Fort Worth Fire Department’s Arson Unit, the ATF, the FBI, and technicians with gas company Atmos Energy and the Railroad Commission are among the agencies investigating.

If you or a loved one were injured in this explosion, you have more questions than answers. We are here to help you through the journey of getting the help you need, now and into the future, and the answers you are looking for. Our Fort Worth explosion lawyer has the experience and the investigative skills it takes to make sure that something like this does not happen again, and that those responsible for your injuries are held responsible.

The Aftermath: Emergency Response and Injured Victims

As the echoes of the blast subsided, emergency crews were on the scene in minutes. We watched emergency vehicles travel the wrong way down one-way streets in downtown Fort Worth to get to the scene quickly. The Fort Worth Fire Department, Police Department, and Emergency Medical Services were some of the first to respond with the ATF, FBI, and Railroad Commission arriving later in the day. It is now believed a gas explosion rocked the Sandman Signature Hotel, injuring 21 people. A few were critically injured, with one in a life-threatening state. The blast was so powerful that it blew the front off the hotel and trapped some victims in the basement.

Within the hotel, the Musume restaurant may have been the epicenter of the blast’s impact. Three of its employees were among the injured. Fortunately, the restaurant was not open yet, and the hotel only had 26 of its rooms occupied. The nearby Fort Worth Convention Center was quickly converted into a temporary shelter for the guests, ensuring their well-being and safety.

Investigating the Cause: Gas Leak and Safety Concerns

As the dust settled and the injured were attended, the focus shifted to understanding the cause of the explosion. An explosion occurred, and preliminary investigations by fire officials pointed toward a gas leak as the potential trigger. This gas leak raised alarms about the safety measures in place and the need for stringent checks to prevent such incidents.

Gas leaks are a prevalent factor contributing to gas explosions in commercial establishments. The fire department initiated a thorough investigation, looking for visible signs of damage to gas pipes, fittings, and transmission equipment, as well as unusual sounds.

determining liability after a hotel explosion

Identifying Potential Liability

In the case of a gas explosion at a hotel, multiple parties might be held liable:

  1. Hotel: Hotels are obligated to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests and employees. This includes regular maintenance and safety checks of gas lines and related infrastructure.
  2. Gas Supply Companies: If the explosion resulted from a defect in the gas supply, the company providing the gas could be liable. We know Atmos was on the scene conducting their own investigation and ensuring service to the building was shut off.
  3. Maintenance Contractors: If the hotel outsourced its gas line maintenance, the contractor responsible for these services might be liable, especially if negligence or improper maintenance is proven.
  4. Manufacturers of Gas Appliances: If a faulty gas appliance caused the explosion, the manufacturer of that appliance could be held responsible under product liability laws.

emergency response after fort worth hotel explosion

Other Agencies That Might Investigate

Agencies other than the ones already mentioned that might be involved in this investigation include:

  1. Texas Commission on Fire Protection: This agency might step in to understand the fire-related aspects of the explosion; and
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): If there are employee injuries or fatalities, OSHA will likely investigate workplace safety standards.

Duties Owed by the Hotel

Hotels in Texas, like any other business, owe a duty of care to both their guests and employees. This includes:

  1. Regular Maintenance and Safety Checks: Ensuring that all gas lines and appliances are in good working condition.
  2. Adequate Training for Staff: Ensuring staff is trained in safety procedures and emergency responses related to gas leaks or explosions.
  3. Evacuation Plans: Having clear and well-communicated evacuation plans in case of an emergency.

Premises Liability in Texas

Premises liability in Texas holds property owners and occupiers responsible for injuries that occur on their property due to unsafe conditions. In a hotel gas explosion scenario, if it is proven that the hotel management was aware (or should have been aware) of a gas leak or potential hazard and did nothing to rectify it, they could be held liable under premises liability laws.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Texas

In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically two years from the date of the injury. This means that any lawsuit for injuries sustained in a hotel gas explosion must be filed within this timeframe.

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Legal Representation for Explosion Victims: Why You Need an Experienced Fort Worth Explosion Lawyer

While the immediate focus in the aftermath of the explosion in Fort Worth was on rescue and recovery, the victims were left grappling with the repercussions. In the ensuing chaos, it becomes vital for victims to grasp their rights and pursue legal representation. Our experienced Fort Worth lawyer can help navigate the intricate legal maze, establish liability, and construct a robust case for the victims.

Compensation for Medical Expenses, Lost Wages, and Pain and Suffering

After such incidents, the primary focus of the legal battle is to secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Lawyers play a critical role in this, advocating for the victim’s rights, gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and pursuing legal claims for fair compensation.

The determination of lost wages is an important part of this process. It involves calculating a weekly rate based on the annual pay and then multiplying it by the number of weeks missed. In some cases, an average of an individual’s annual earnings before the injury is utilized for the calculation of lost earnings.

Holding Negligent Parties Accountable

Post-explosion, the focus isn’t solely on securing compensation for victims but also entails holding those responsible, accountable for their actions. Holding negligent parties accountable signifies pursuing legal measures to ensure their responsibility for the damages and injuries resulting from the explosion.

The process to hold negligent parties accountable for explosions involves initiating a negligence lawsuit based on personal injury, wherein the injured party is required to establish that the defendant acted negligently. In such cases, individuals, companies, or other entities found responsible for negligence are held accountable for their actions.

Documenting Injuries and Property Damage

Besides seeking prompt medical attention, victims should also concentrate on:

  • Recording their injuries and property damage
  • Capturing photographs of the injuries
  • Promptly seeking medical attention
  • Preserving any available evidence

Explosions can lead to extensive property damage, such as cracks in plaster, drywall, and basement damage to homes, businesses, and other structures. Victims should take comprehensive photographs and videos of the damage from multiple angles and write detailed descriptions of the damage, specifying affected items, the extent and timing of the damage, and the event leading to the damage.

Support for Affected Families: Resources and Assistance

Amidst such adversity, the community unites to offer support to the impacted families. Resources and assistance are available for those affected, including a family reunification area and community support programs.

Furthermore, there are federal and state assistance programs available for victims of explosions. These programs include FEMA collaborating with the SBA to offer low-interest disaster loans and the Red Cross providing financial aid for homes that have been severely damaged or destroyed.

Summary

The tragic explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel in downtown Fort Worth shook the community to its core. However, in its aftermath, the resilience of the community and the relentless work of first responders have shone through. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of stringent safety measures and the need for legal representation in the aftermath of such tragic incidents. While the victims continue their path to recovery, it is imperative to hold those responsible accountable and ensure such a calamity is avoided in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What caused the explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel?

The investigation is ongoing. The explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel was caused by a gas leak, according to preliminary investigations.

How many people were injured in the explosion?

The explosion resulted in 21 injuries, with one person critically injured.

What should victims do in the aftermath of such an explosion?

After an explosion, victims should prioritize seeking medical attention, documenting injuries and property damage, and contacting a lawyer for assistance with the aftermath. Give us a call at (817) 203-2220. We are here to help.

Varghese Summersett

Texas passed an age verification law that requires proof that a visitor is an adult to access pornographic websites.

Age Verification Law in Texas

House Bill 1181 was signed into law on June 12, 2023, and was slated to into effect on September 1, 2023. The law requires adult websites to use “reasonable age verification methods” to make sure a person accessing their website is at least 18 years old.

The verification system could be based on government-issued identification or a “commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data” to verify the age of the visitor. The law further required the websites to post a dubious warning that pornography is addictive, that exposure to pornography could result in body image and mental health issues, and increase the demand for child exploitation.

Age Verification Law Challenged 

A challenge to the law was successful, at least initially. The law was challenged in federal court by the Free Speech Coalition, which is a nonprofit trade association made up of performers, producers, distributors, and retailers of adult content. The Coalition is supported adult websites such as PornHub and Xnxx. The basis for the challenge was the law was overboard and failed the strict scrutiny test applied to free speech. The federal district court granted the injunction and prevented the Texas Attorney General from enforcing the newly enacted law.

The Age Verification Law in Texas is Currently Enforceable 

Then on November 14, 2023 the United States Fifth Circuit vacated the injunction. In other words, the court of appeals disagreed with the district court so Texas can now enforce the new law. The penalties for distributing adult content without complying with this law is a fine of up to $10,000 daily for failing to verify the age of users and fine of up to $250,000 per day if at least one child is exposed to pornographic material.

In some states, some sites stopped serving content to users rather than forcing visitors to verify their identity and provide proof of their age. For example, Pornhub has blocked visitors in North Carolina, Montana, and Utah

How Easy is it to Avoid Age Verification?

How effective is the feel-good legislation? Engadget is reporting searches for VPNs, which obfuscate a visitor’s location, are suddenly on the rise where laws similar to this one are being enforced.

when is porn illegal in texas

Is pornography legal in Texas?

It is generally legal for an adult in Texas to watch pornography depicting consenting adults. There are, however, instances where pornography can become illegal:

Child Pornography (Penal Code 43.26)

In Texas, it’s illegal to possess, produce, distribute, or promote any visual material that depicts a child younger than 18 years engaged in sexual conduct. The child pornography law is comprehensive and includes photographs, videos, digital images, and any other types of visual representation. Convictions under this statute can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

AI-Generated Pornography Depicting a Minor (Penal Code 43.26) 

With the advent of AI technology, it’s become possible to create realistic images or videos that did not originally exist. If AI generates pornographic content that includes the face, likeness, or other distinguishing features of a real child, it falls under the same category as traditional child pornography under Penal Code 43.26 and is treated with equal severity.

AI-Generated Pornography Using Child Images (Penal Code Section 43.261)

Texas law specifically addresses the issue of AI-generated pornography that utilizes the image of a child under 18, even if the final content doesn’t directly depict that child. This inclusion ensures that the law evolves with technology, prohibiting the exploitation of minors in all forms, even in digitally altered or AI-generated content.

Revenge Pornography (Penal Code Section 21.16)

Unlawful disclosure of intimate visual material, commonly known as revenge porn, involves distributing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent, typically with the intent to harm or harass. In Texas, this act is a violation of privacy and dignity and is punishable by law. The statute covers a range of conduct and includes protections for victims, such as the ability to seek damages.

Distributing Harmful Material to a Minor (Penal Code 43.24) 

It’s illegal in Texas to sell, distribute, or display harmful material to a minor. This law is designed to protect minors from exposure to explicit content that is deemed inappropriate for their age. Violations of this statute can lead to criminal charges, emphasizing the responsibility of individuals and entities in controlling access to such material.

Sexting Between Minors

While it’s less severe than other sexual offenses, sexting between minors is still a concern in Texas and is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. The state recognizes the need to address the behavior without imposing the harsh penalties associated with adult sex offenses. However, it’s crucial to approach these cases with sensitivity and an understanding of the broader legal and social context.

Obscene Display or Distribution (Penal Code 43.23)

Texas law prohibits the intentional or reckless display or distribution of obscene materials in a manner where others might be offended or alarmed. This statute reflects community standards regarding public decency and the protection of individuals from unwanted exposure to explicit content. Conviction can lead to a Class C misdemeanor charge, underscoring the importance of respecting public norms.

Sexual Performance by a Child (Penal Code Section 43.25)

Engaging a child under 18 in a sexual performance, or producing, directing, or promoting such material, is a grave offense in Texas. This law targets the exploitation of minors at a fundamental level, aiming to protect children from abuse and involvement in the adult entertainment industry. Violations can lead to significant legal consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and mandatory sex offender registration.

If you’ve been charged with a pornography-related charge in North Texas, give us a call at (817) 203-2220. We have a track record of success in state and federal court.

Varghese Summersett

Texas passed an age verification law that requires proof that a visitor is an adult to access pornographic websites.

Age Verification Law in Texas

House Bill 1181 was signed into law on June 12, 2023, and was slated to into effect on September 1, 2023. The law requires adult websites to use “reasonable age verification methods” to make sure a person accessing their website is at least 18 years old.

The verification system could be based on government-issued identification or a “commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data” to verify the age of the visitor. The law further required the websites to post a dubious warning that pornography is addictive, that exposure to pornography could result in body image and mental health issues, and increase the demand for child exploitation.

Age Verification Law Challenged 

A challenge to the law was successful, at least initially. The law was challenged in federal court by the Free Speech Coalition, which is a nonprofit trade association made up of performers, producers, distributors, and retailers of adult content. The Coalition is supported adult websites such as PornHub and Xnxx. The basis for the challenge was the law was overboard and failed the strict scrutiny test applied to free speech. The federal district court granted the injunction and prevented the Texas Attorney General from enforcing the newly enacted law.

The Age Verification Law in Texas is Currently Enforceable 

Then on November 14, 2023 the United States Fifth Circuit vacated the injunction. In other words, the court of appeals disagreed with the district court so Texas can now enforce the new law. The penalties for distributing adult content without complying with this law is a fine of up to $10,000 daily for failing to verify the age of users and fine of up to $250,000 per day if at least one child is exposed to pornographic material.

In some states, some sites stopped serving content to users rather than forcing visitors to verify their identity and provide proof of their age. For example, Pornhub has blocked visitors in North Carolina, Montana, and Utah

How Easy is it to Avoid Age Verification?

How effective is the feel-good legislation? Engadget is reporting searches for VPNs, which obfuscate a visitor’s location, are suddenly on the rise where laws similar to this one are being enforced.

when is porn illegal in texas

Is pornography legal in Texas?

It is generally legal for an adult in Texas to watch pornography depicting consenting adults. There are, however, instances where pornography can become illegal:

Child Pornography (Penal Code 43.26)

In Texas, it’s illegal to possess, produce, distribute, or promote any visual material that depicts a child younger than 18 years engaged in sexual conduct. The child pornography law is comprehensive and includes photographs, videos, digital images, and any other types of visual representation. Convictions under this statute can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

AI-Generated Pornography Depicting a Minor (Penal Code 43.26) 

With the advent of AI technology, it’s become possible to create realistic images or videos that did not originally exist. If AI generates pornographic content that includes the face, likeness, or other distinguishing features of a real child, it falls under the same category as traditional child pornography under Penal Code 43.26 and is treated with equal severity.

AI-Generated Pornography Using Child Images (Penal Code Section 43.261)

Texas law specifically addresses the issue of AI-generated pornography that utilizes the image of a child under 18, even if the final content doesn’t directly depict that child. This inclusion ensures that the law evolves with technology, prohibiting the exploitation of minors in all forms, even in digitally altered or AI-generated content.

Revenge Pornography (Penal Code Section 21.16)

Unlawful disclosure of intimate visual material, commonly known as revenge porn, involves distributing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent, typically with the intent to harm or harass. In Texas, this act is a violation of privacy and dignity and is punishable by law. The statute covers a range of conduct and includes protections for victims, such as the ability to seek damages.

Distributing Harmful Material to a Minor (Penal Code 43.24) 

It’s illegal in Texas to sell, distribute, or display harmful material to a minor. This law is designed to protect minors from exposure to explicit content that is deemed inappropriate for their age. Violations of this statute can lead to criminal charges, emphasizing the responsibility of individuals and entities in controlling access to such material.

Sexting Between Minors

While it’s less severe than other sexual offenses, sexting between minors is still a concern in Texas and is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. The state recognizes the need to address the behavior without imposing the harsh penalties associated with adult sex offenses. However, it’s crucial to approach these cases with sensitivity and an understanding of the broader legal and social context.

Obscene Display or Distribution (Penal Code 43.23)

Texas law prohibits the intentional or reckless display or distribution of obscene materials in a manner where others might be offended or alarmed. This statute reflects community standards regarding public decency and the protection of individuals from unwanted exposure to explicit content. Conviction can lead to a Class C misdemeanor charge, underscoring the importance of respecting public norms.

Sexual Performance by a Child (Penal Code Section 43.25)

Engaging a child under 18 in a sexual performance, or producing, directing, or promoting such material, is a grave offense in Texas. This law targets the exploitation of minors at a fundamental level, aiming to protect children from abuse and involvement in the adult entertainment industry. Violations can lead to significant legal consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and mandatory sex offender registration.

If you’ve been charged with a pornography-related charge in North Texas, give us a call at (817) 203-2220. We have a track record of success in state and federal court.

Varghese Summersett

Understanding retrograde extrapolation is essential for grasping how DUI or DWI cases hinge on past BAC estimates. “Retrograde extrapolation” is routinely used to infer a driver’s BAC at the time of driving based on a blood or breath specimen obtained some time after the driving ceased. Through this article, we discuss retrograde extrapolation’s role, the principles it relies upon, and the controversies it ignites, all pivotal for anyone navigating intoxication charges.

Jump to Retrograde Extrapolation Calculator

Key Takeaways

  • Retrograde extrapolation is a method used to estimate a suspect’s BAC at the time of driving by considering factors like the elimination rate of alcohol, absorbing time, and metabolic rate, but its accuracy is reliant on various individual and consumption factors.
  • While often used in DUI or DWI cases with expert testimony as vital evidence, retrograde extrapolation faces legal challenges due to questions about its reliability, precision, and the assumptions taken into account for its calculation.
  • The effectiveness of retrograde extrapolation in court can be compromised by inherent limitations, including the variability of individual alcohol metabolism and potential errors in the assumptions, and defense strategies often involve contesting its methodology and presenting alternative evidence.

The Science Behind Retrograde Extrapolation

Retrograde extrapolation is a process that estimates a DUI or DWI suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at a particular point in the past based on current BAC levels and other relevant factors. This method involves a specific formula that multiplies the elimination rate of alcohol by the number of hours since the person stopped drinking and absorbing alcohol, and then applies this calculation to the BAC results from a chemical test.

The aim of retrograde extrapolation in DUI or DWI cases is to determine the suspect’s BAC at the time of driving, rather than when the blood sample was taken. A variety of factors contribute significantly to this calculation, including the timing and quantity of the last drink, the period of alcohol consumption, and the person’s alcohol metabolic rate.

The Retrograde Extrapolation Formula

Initially, the retrograde extrapolation formula utilizes the BAC test results, followed by the incorporation of the alcohol absorption rate into the bloodstream, and finally, the BAC decline rate over time. Generally, the standard rate of BAC decrease is between 0.015 to 0.02 percent per hour. This rate is significant in establishing whether a person was over the legal limit at the time they were driving. By considering both absorption and elimination rates, the accuracy of the retrograde extrapolation formula can be improved.

Nevertheless, one must comprehend that this formula doesn’t apply universally. In practice, several variables can impact its accuracy, such as the person’s metabolic rate, the kind and quantity of alcohol consumed, the time lapse since the last drink, and the person’s mental state.

Assumptions and Variables

The accuracy of retrograde extrapolation largely depends on the assumptions and variables used. These include normal elimination rates and individual differences in alcohol metabolism, which can affect the defendant’s BAC estimation.

Moreover, other factors such as:

  • the individual’s drinking history prior to the incident
  • the quantity and type of beverages consumed
  • the timing and composition of the last meal before the incident
  • the individual’s age, height, weight, and gender

can all affect the precision of retrograde extrapolation calculations. Hence, it is evident that a thorough and precise calculation of retrograde extrapolation necessitates comprehensive and accurate data.

retrograde extrapolation explained

Retrograde Extrapolation in DUI or DWI Case Evidence

Retrograde extrapolation is frequently employed as evidence in DUI or DWI cases, bolstered by expert testimony to substantiate the calculations. The influence of this expert testimony is frequently observed in the verdicts of DUI or DWI trials, with the expert’s opinion on retrograde extrapolation significantly impacting the outcome of the case.

In the laboratory, retrograde extrapolation calculations are conducted with the purpose of medicolegal alcohol determination, aiming to estimate the suspect’s BAC at a specific prior time. But, as we’ll explore in the next subsections, the introduction of this evidence in court is not always straightforward.

Expert Testimony in DUI or DWI Cases

In DUI-related cases, experts such as police chemists or forensic alcohol analysts hold significant importance. They offer testimony to support the calculations of retrograde extrapolation, providing expert opinions on the driver’s BAC at the time of the arrest, and analyzing blood and bodily fluid samples.

These expert witnesses are required to have specialized knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education that qualifies them as experts in the area of forensic alcohol analysis and retrograde extrapolation. They provide testimony on the particular elements of retrograde extrapolation, which involves estimating an individual’s BAC at a specific prior time through the use of various factors and scientific computations.

Admissibility and Challenges

The admissibility and potential challenges to retrograde extrapolation revolve around establishing its reliability and precision within the court. The reliability of retrograde extrapolation is addressed in court procedures by the consistent acceptance of the science behind it in North Carolina courts. Properly qualified witnesses are allowed to give testimony on retrograde extrapolation.

However, the dependability of retrograde extrapolation is contested in court due to deficiencies that make it inherently unreliable and unsuitable for use as evidence. Common challenges include disputing the accuracy of the extrapolation and questioning the sufficiency of relevant factors in forming an extrapolation opinion.

Inherent Limitations and Controversies

The controversy surrounding retrograde extrapolation in DUI or DWI cases arises due to its reliance on assumptions regarding the rate of alcohol elimination and the timing of alcohol consumption, which are often subject to challenge in a court of law. The inherent constraints of retrograde extrapolation involve the dependence on assumptions and the assumption of a typical alcohol elimination rate. Inaccuracies can also result from factors influencing alcohol absorption and elimination, which vary among individuals.

The reliability of retrograde extrapolation is influenced by the reasonableness and justifiability of the assumptions made. Additionally, factors such as body temperature can impact the absorption and elimination of alcohol, which are crucial for obtaining reliable results. As a result, it’s generally considered to be highly inaccurate due to the variability in absorption rates and the lack of verifiable information.

Reliability Concerns

The reliability of retrograde extrapolation can be affected by specific assumptions, such as the assumption that the DUI or DWI arrestee’s blood-alcohol level was declining, and that the rate of alcohol elimination is consistent and known. The variability in the rate of alcohol absorption, distribution, and elimination among individuals can significantly impact the reliability of retrograde extrapolation calculations.

Due to the substantial differences in alcohol metabolism rates among individuals and across the population, the variability within individuals can pose difficulties in effectively utilizing retrograde extrapolation, especially over extended periods, consequently reducing its reliability. As the time since alcohol consumption increases, retrograde extrapolation becomes less reliable due to its increasing reliance on average rates and estimates, making it impossible to determine exact blood alcohol concentrations at earlier points in time.

Potential Errors and Inaccuracies

Potential errors and inaccuracies in retrograde extrapolation can arise from incorrect assumptions or insufficient information. Common assumptions in retrograde extrapolation that frequently result in inaccuracies include the assumption that the suspect did not consume food immediately before or while drinking alcohol and the assumption of a constant rate of alcohol elimination.

Potential errors during BAC testing in retrograde extrapolation may include:

  • Conducting the extrapolation too soon after the last drink
  • Misinterpretation of variations in breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) and suspect’s BAC.
  • Relying on flawed assumptions that the blood-alcohol level was declining and the rate of elimination is known

If an individual’s BAC is still increasing from recent alcohol consumption at the time of the BAC test, the estimated defendant’s BAC may be inaccurately inflated further as a result of the timing when BAC begins to rise.

Defense Strategies Against Retrograde Extrapolation

Numerous defense strategies exist to counter retrograde extrapolation. Contesting this methodology is vital to avoid letting unreliable or inaccurate scientific methods unduly sway the case’s verdict. By scrutinizing these fundamental elements, defense attorneys can weaken the prosecution’s reliance on retrograde BAC calculations in their case.

Defense attorneys utilize alternative evidence by questioning the assumptions behind retrograde extrapolation, such as challenging the accuracy of the average rate of alcohol elimination used. Additionally, they may introduce evidence that directly contradicts the calculation, such as witness testimony or expert analysis. In the following subsections, we’ll delve into how the methodology can be challenged and how alternative evidence can be presented.

Challenging the Methodology

Challenges can be made against common assumptions in the retrograde extrapolation process, such as the supposition of total alcohol absorption at the testing time and the expected normal rate of alcohol elimination. Inconsistencies and issues are inherent in the fundamental premises and calculations of retrograde extrapolation. It becomes increasingly difficult and less dependable over extended time periods and is based on assumptions regarding the elimination rate of alcohol and the precision of testing methods, which may lead to inaccuracies.

The credentials of an expert witness in retrograde extrapolation can be challenged in a DUI or DWI case by inquiring about their formal training in performing retrograde extrapolation calculations and their comprehension of the significance of accurate data. Furthermore, the expert’s testimony should be supported by substantial facts and case-specific data.

Presenting Alternative Evidence

Expert testimonies that contradict retrograde extrapolation are invaluable in spotlighting the method’s drawbacks and unreliability. Experts can provide evidence such as unknown variables in the breath test, insufficient data on the elimination rate, and the presumption of a declining blood-alcohol level to contest the validity of retrograde extrapolation in cases involving driving under the influence.

We contest retrograde extrapolation evidence by:

  • Directly undermining the prosecution’s forensic evidence
  • Providing alternative explanations for the forensics in support of their client
  • Identifying experts capable of using mathematical equations and retrograde extrapolation to offer a different estimation of the defendant’s bodily alcohol content at the time of driving.

Real-World Examples and Case Studies

We have been able to successfully defend DWI cases by challenging the State’s assumptions in the retrograde extrapolation. Few attorneys have as much DWI experience as the Varghese Summersett team has.

Controversial Cases

Contentious situations arise when the precision and dependability of retrograde extrapolation are brought into doubt. Critics in legal circles have raised concerns about the use of retrograde extrapolation in DUI or DWI cases, arguing that it is based on guesswork and unsupported assumptions. Some have even likened it to a wild guess. Furthermore, court decisions have subjected this technique to scrutiny, thereby increasing the difficulty for prosecutors to secure drunk driving convictions, especially when dealing with a DUI or DWI suspect.

Indeed, there have been significant legal cases in which retrograde extrapolation evidence was dismissed or heavily scrutinized. For instance, in one case, the court dismissed the charge as the prosecutor failed to establish a violation without retrograde extrapolation evidence. In another case, the court considered retrograde extrapolation inherently untrustworthy and unsuitable for use as evidence. Indeed, the utilization of retrograde extrapolation in legal proceedings has resulted in unjust convictions.

Summary

This blog post delved deep into the complex world of retrograde extrapolation, a crucial tool in DUI or DWI cases. We unpacked the science behind it, explored its use as evidence, discussed its limitations and controversies, and examined defense strategies against it. We also looked at real-world examples of its use in the courtroom. Despite its widespread use, it’s clear that retrograde extrapolation is not without its controversies and challenges. As we navigate the intersection of science and law, it’s crucial to ensure the methods we employ are not just scientifically sound, but also fair and just.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate retrograde extrapolation?

To calculate retrograde extrapolation, you can determine a person’s blood alcohol level at an earlier time by multiplying the average rate of alcohol elimination by the time between driving and the blood test and adding the product to the person’s known BAL.

Which drug is generally associated with retrograde extrapolation?

Retrograde extrapolation is generally associated with alcohol.

What is a reverse extrapolation?

Reverse extrapolation, also known as “retrograde extrapolation,” is the process of calculating a person’s blood alcohol concentration at an earlier time based on a known BAC obtained at a later time. This is often used in forensic analysis of alcohol-related incidents.

What is the Widmark formula?

The Widmark formula calculates blood alcohol content (BAC) by multiplying the ounces of alcohol consumed by a constant (3.75 for men, 4.7 for women), then dividing by the person’s weight.

What are the limitations of retrograde extrapolation?

The limitations of retrograde extrapolation stem from its reliance on assumptions about alcohol elimination rates and the timing of alcohol consumption, which can be contested in a legal setting. Therefore, it may face challenges in court.

retrograde extrapolation calculator
Retrograde Extrapolation Calculator

Retrograde Extrapolation Calculator