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Kyle Lowe, Criminal Defense Attorney

Kyle Lowe Criminal Defense/DWI Attorney

Licensed to practice law since 1993 in New Mexico, and since 1997 in Texas, Kyle Lowe has been trying cases for 16 years. His only focus is Criminal Law. Beginning his career as an Assistant District Attorney in New Mexico, Kyle quickly worked his way up to Deputy District Attorney and became the designated DWI Prosecutor for the office.

 

In his 5 years as a prosecutor Kyle tried more than 60 cases to juries to include the first State prosecuted wiretap conspiracy case in New Mexico history...

 

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Posts Tagged ‘austin dwi arrest’

House Rep. Naomi Gonzalez charged with DWI in Austin

March 15th, 2013 by Kyle Lowe

It can happen to anyone.  House Representative Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso, was arrested and charged with DWI in Austin early Thursday morning after she crashed her BMW into a Fiat that subsequently hit a bicyclist.  According to an article in the Austin American Statesman, Gonzalez was traveling at about 50 mph down S. Congress near the Barton Springs intersection when she rear-ended the Fiat.  Gonzalez, the Fiat passenger and the cyclist were all taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.  By all accounts, Naomi Gonzalez is considered a rising star in the Texas Legislature.  The 34-year-old attorney was born and raised in El Paso and was named Freshman of the Year by the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus in 2011.  She currently sits as the vice chairwoman of the Human Services Committee and is also a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.  Her DWI arrest affidavit indicated a blood alcohol level of 0.164–more than twice the legal limit.  Reportedly, Gonzalez told APD officers that she’d only had two drinks between 12 and 1am while visiting the W Hotel in downtown Austin.  Officers observed during their interview that Gonzalez smelled of alcohol and her eyes were bloodshot and glassy.  Officers also reported that, “She cried about how she had worked so hard to get where she was.”  The current legislative session coupled with the city’s ten day SXSW event has downtown Austin bustling.  EMS released information that they had responded to 33 incidents in a 12 hour period involving crashes, traumatic injuries and alcohol related incidents.

Austin DWI arrests will likely spike during SXSW 2013

March 9th, 2013 by Kyle Lowe

It has arrived.  The much anticipated yearly convergence of all things high tech, indie and musical known as SXSW.  The ten day annual conference/festival draws folks from around the world and the number of visitors is projected to be in the hundreds of thousands.  With the increase in visitors comes an increase in crime, but nothing that APD foresees as unmanageable.  According to APD Assistant Chief Raul Munguia, the biggest spike will be seen in thefts.  Typically the scenario for thefts consists of people setting their cell phones, purses or bags down one minute then turning back around to find them gone.  Last year saw seven aggravated assaults, four aggravated robberies and four sexual assaults.  The alcohol fueled fest is also expected to produce an increase in DWI and alcohol related offenses.  DWI arrests shot up 100% (from 15-30) between 2011 and 2012.  Conversely, arrests for public intoxication decreased from 83 in 2011 to 49 in 2012.  This dip is attributed to a change in APD’s protocol as it relates to Austin’s tourism boom.  Munguia stated, “With PI’s, our goal is not to arrest them and throw them in jail.  Our goal is to make sure everyone’s safe.  When people come down to SXSW and most of these events, they come in groups.  And oftentimes what we’ll do is release a person who is intoxicated to a sober person that’s with them that’s going to take charge of them and get them out of there.  And that’s what we prefer to do.”  Munguia calls this approach “tourism-centered policing”, police presence that implies law-abiding expectations delivered with a congenial, non-confrontational tone.  Feedback from our city’s first ever F1 event was very positive.  Munguia says all he heard was how pleasant the APD officers were.  Given that Austin has become what Munguia refers to as an “events city”, APD’s new approach to public safety appears to be both effective and well received.

The Psychology of a DWI Stop

June 10th, 2009 by Kyle Lowe

The psychology of a DWI stop is an incredibly subjective thing.  One might suggest that there is a predetermined decision in the mind of a police officer, based on the time of day, the locale, the proximity of the vehicle to local bars/nightclubs, or the prevalence of previous DWI arrests in the same area, that a driver pulled over for a traffic infraction in that same area will be assumed drunk before the police officer even approaches the vehicle.

According to an article written by Shorstein and Lasnetski, whether a DWI arrest is made is not based on concrete, objective factors that can later be confirmed in court; rather, the decision to arrest for DWI will often be based on the perceptions, observations, conclusions and biases of the police officer.  Just about every police officer that has made a DWI arrest since the beginning of time will report that the suspect had bloodshot and watery eyes, emitted a strong odor of alcohol, had slurred or mumbled speech and failed the field sobriety tests if the driver submitted to them.  However, those conclusions are all very subjective.  How bloodshot and watery were the driver’s eyes compared to what they normally look like? What if the driver was in a smoky bar or staring at a computer screen all day? How strong is a “strong odor of alcohol”? What is slurred speech compared to how a person normally speaks?  Over the entire  period of the police encounter, how often must the driver slur his/her speech for it to be considered significant? Is the speech slurred due to alcohol or because the person is nervous? How the officer interprets these questions is very subjective.

The word “bias” is not used negatively here but as a natural and normal psychological phenomenon- a cognitive bias, and it is a significant factor. The human brain is wired to see patterns and draw conclusions subconsciously. While we would hope that a police officer would come to a conclusion of driving while intoxicated only after assessing all of the relevant data, humans have a psychological tendency to draw the conclusion and fit the data to conform to that conclusion. The human brain is also wired to avoid conflict.  In other words,  if we believe something to be true,  (i.e. we see something we believe conforms to a pattern we assume exists), we challenge ideas or perceptions that are inconsistent with our belief and automatically accept ideas that are consistent with our belief.  The human brain is much happier when ideas and perceptions are consistent.

During a DWI stop in Austin, Texas, if a police officer believes the driver is under the influence of alcohol, (i.e. that is the idea he/she perceives as being consistent with the pattern he/she accepts), the officer may interpret the subsequent evidence to conform to that belief.  As a result, these subjective factors like bloodshot and watery eyes,  slurred speech, an odor of alcohol and performance on field sobriety tests may be interpreted to be consistent with the “idea” of a drunk driver rather than what the facts actually illustrate.

To simplify, a police officer may have observed people commit traffic violations late on the weekends who turned out to be driving drunk hundreds of times or more. That officer, as humans are prone to do, will start drawing conclusions based on that experience. The next time that officer pulls a driver over in similar circumstances, his/her brain relates back to prior drivers who were drunk. The pattern is established.  We can all relate to the idea that we like to be proven right and we do not like to be proven wrong. It is intellectually uncomfortable to draw a conclusion only to find out it was incorrect. The defense mechanism our brains use to avoid that state of cognitive discomfort forces our brain to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and assume what we want to assume to conform to our primary belief– that the driver is driving while intoxicated- even if the facts tell a different story.  It is a psychological phenomenon that cannot be denied.  As a result, the police officer fits this next potentially drunk driver into the pattern that has developed and may interpret the data from the DWI stop to conform to that pattern and his/her conclusions.

So, what should you do if you are pulled over by a police officer who suspects you of  DWI in Austin, Texas? You cannot fight the instinctual operation of the human brain. You can, however, limit the information you provide to the police officer that can be interpreted unfavorably against you.  After you give your name, license, insurance and/or registration, you can politely ask for an Austin DWI attorney in response to any further questions or requests.  Keep in mind that anything you say or do can and will be used against you, and when you are dealing with so many subjective factors that are involved in a typical DWI investigation, the less you say and do, the better.

If you need an experienced DWI lawyer in Austin, Texas or the surrounding communities, contact Kyle Lowe at 512-750-5693.