Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Sept. 11, 2005, Trooper Wayne Pierce of the Texas Department of Public Safety stopped Paul Joseph Stautzenberger for exceeding the posted speed limit. Pierce requested that Stautzenberger produce his license and insurance. Stautzenberger was unable to produce his license, claiming it had expired in 1997. When asked why he did not have a driver’s license, Stautzenberger told Pierce he did not “believe in the validity of a Texas driver’s license.” He did, however, give Pierce his name and date of birth. Pierce transmitted this information by radio and was informed that authorities had suspended Stautzenberger’s license on Dec. 8, 2004. Pierce arrested Stautzenberger, and authorities subsequently indicted him by information for driving with an invalid license. The trial court found Stautzenberger guilty and assessed his punishment at 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Stautzenberger, who represented himself pro se at trial and on appeal, argued on appeal that: 1. legally insufficient evidence supported his conviction; 2. the trial court erred in allowing the state to amend the information after it had rested its case; 3. the trial court erred in admitting state’s Exhibit No. 2, where evidence showed that it was invalid on its face; 4. the trial court erred in sustaining the state’s objection to questioning a witness regarding a specific element of the crime; and 5. Stautzenberger was subjected to double jeopardy by levying a second fine not included in the original sentence. HOLDING:Affirmed. Stautzenberger claimed his license expired in 1997, and the state failed to prove that his license was suspended at the time of the alleged offense. If, as Stautzenberger contends, his license expired in 1997 and was not thereafter renewed, the court stated that Stautzenberger could not be convicted of driving while his license was suspended, because he had no license that was in a state of suspension. The court, however, noted that authorities did not charge Stautzenberger solely with driving while license suspended. Rather, the state charged Stautzenberger, in a single paragraph, with three distinct manner and means of driving while license invalid: 1. driving after his license had been cancelled; 2. driving during a period when his license had been suspended or revoked; and 3. driving while his license was expired and the license expired during a period of suspension. Accordingly, the court found sufficient evidence to prove Stautzenberger was driving while his license was cancelled, suspended, revoked or expired (if the license expired during a period of suspension). In his second point of error, Stautzenberger contended that the trial court erred in permitting the state to modify the information during closing argument after the state had rested its case. The information contained an enhancement paragraph that alleged the existence of a previous conviction for driving while his license was suspended. The state offered no evidence in support of the enhancement paragraph and affirmatively abandoned the allegation. But enhancement allegations need not be pleaded on the face of the charging instrument, the court stated. As such, enhancement allegations are mere surplusage in an information, the court stated. The abandonment of surplusage does not invoke the requirements of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 28.10(c). In his third point of error, the court stated, Stautzenberger made a collateral attack upon one of his previous convictions, i.e., the judgment of a trial court in Comal County that he claims violated the double jeopardy provisions of the Texas Constitution by imposing a reinstatement fee that was not part of the original sentence. Stautzenberger contended that his failure to pay the unlawful reinstatement fee in the Comal County case was the only basis for the continued suspension that was the basis of the instant offense. Stautzenberger’s point, the court stated, was wholly without merit, because it constitutes an impermissible collateral attack. Only a void judgment may be collaterally attacked, the court stated. The court also noted the 2006 holding of the 3rd Court of Appeals in Ex Parte Drake, which held that a license surcharge or reinstatement fee is not a criminal punishment in violation of the double jeopardy guarantee against multiple punishments. In his fourth point of error, Stautzenberger argued the trial court erred in admitting state’s Exhibit No. 2 into evidence when the exhibit was invalid on its face. Stautzenberger, however, expressly stated that he had no objection to the exhibit, thus waiving his point of error. In his fifth point of error, Stautzenberger contended that the trial court erred when it sustained the prosecutor’s objection when he asked Pierce how he “knew the road to be public.” The court, however, pointed out that the state did not object to the question on how Pierce knew the road was public. Rather, the court found that the state objected to Stautzenberger’s rambling, side bar explanation for his question. OPINION:Hudson, J.; Hedges, C.J., and Hudson, J. CONCURRENCE:Guzman, J., concurred without a written opinion.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.