Legal First Aid — DWI

 Posted on July 27, 2007 in Uncategorized

The day before yesterday evening I was out with my family when the cell phone rang. A man called because his wife had been arrested that evening for DWI in Harris County. I could tell immediately that he was frantic. I calmed him down, reassured him, and explained how to get her bonded out of jail.

Three hours later, at about 11:30 p.m., he called again. She was still in a city jail in the northern part of the county, and he wanted me to call the bonding company to ask them to make what they call a "two-trip bond." The bonding company's representative would have to drive from downtown to the jail (about 35 miles), get the accused's signature on the bond, drive back downtown, get the bond processed by the Sheriff's Office, return to the jail with the completed bond, and then return to the office, for a total of 140 miles of driving. It was going to take the company (Burns Bail Bonds, 713.227.3400) two hours of driving to make the bond, a major favor, so they didn't want to do it except at my request. I told the husband that I would call the bonding company and call him back - he seemed to be genuinely grateful for my help. I called the bonding company and asked that they make the bond. Then I called the husband again. He thanked me and we scheduled a meeting for yesterday afternoon. (This was, bear in mind, about 11:45 at night.)

He and his wife didn't show up at the meeting. No explanation, no apology, no contact, nothing. I called his mobile and their home number, and left messages. No response. It hurt my feelings and made me mad. That he didn't think he owed me even a call makes him a schmuck (which, as SHG would say, is Texan for "pendejo") of whom I'm well rid.

This is the second time in a week that a potential client whom I've gone out of my way to help has ditched me without bothering to let me know. So, after quickly discarding plans of vengeance (I'll call him at 11:40 at night - that'll teach him!), I set about finding a way to prevent this happening again. I considered, for a while, that maybe my strategy of paying it forward wasn't working too well for me. But I like helping people, and usually they appreciate the help. What I need to do is eliminate the callers who are going to be appreciative in the middle of the night only until they find someone during daylight hours who will represent them cheaper. (An aside: there are reasons that cheaper lawyers are cheaper; one of these reasons is that they can't be reached when you really need them.)

To that end, I've produced the first of what I hope to be a series of Legal First Aid sheets, telling people on paper the things that I would tell them over the telephone in the middle of the night. My thinking is that if yesterday's caller had been able to download instructions, he wouldn't have called me until he was actually ready to sit down and talk with me. Here is the first of them, explaining what to do for a loved one arrested for DWI in Harris County before getting a lawyer involved.


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