By: Beltz Law Firm
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Legal Defenses To A Driving While License Invalid Charge In Texas
Driving While License Invalid In Texas
Dallas Ticket Attorneys
The Texas Transportation Code Section 521.457 is the statute that outlines the different punishments for varying charges related to a driving while license invalid charge (“DWLI”). Most attorneys can get their mind wrapped around the punishment. It becomes complicated though when a lawyer has to mount a defense to the charge. This article is intended to outline the possible defenses and when those defenses cannot be used.
First, the law provides a pretty good defense that we do not see many attorneys utilizing for their clients. The defense is affirmative which can cause some extra work to be put in by the defendant. For a discussion of the meaning of affirmative defense click here. Basically, in criminal law the burden of proof is always on the prosecutor to establish guilt. In this case, the prosecutor would have to submit the driving record in some way through the testimony of the police officer. Because we think that this has its own problems, we do not intend to go into “hearsay” issues related to the submission. For discussion about the hearsay problem, check back for future blogs.
Once the driver’s license has been established as being “invalid,” the burden would then shift to the defendant to prove that they never got “actual notice” of the suspension, therefore not giving them the opportunity to remedy the issue. The code is slanted in favor of the State by stating that notice is considered to be given to the defendant if it can be shown that it was mailed in accordance with the law. What law? DPS states that all notices will be mailed to the last known mailing address on file with DPS. For their official statement of driver’s license suspension notices click here.
The question now becomes how in the world is Dallas Municipal Court or any other court going to prove that the notice went out? They would have to literally subpoena a DPS employee to come testify that the notice was sent by first class mail to the last known address on file and that it was not returned deliverable after testimony from the defendant that they never received the notice. The bottom line is that this is never going to happen. It is too expensive and City prosecutors are lazy.
We think there is a great opportunity here for defendants and attorneys to take advantage of the law to work in their favor. Many courts will not allow a defendant to get deferred adjudication on a DWLI ticket without establishing that the license is valid first. There are a ton of clients that cannot afford to get the license valid in the timeline that these courts are giving defendants. If a client is not going to get the benefit of deferred, then what is the incentive to settle? There is none. A defendant might as well pay the attorney to take the case to trial to see if it will get dismissed based on this defense. If you have a DWLI ticket you would like to discuss with a legal professional click here.
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