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Easing of DWI Penalties: lawyers review

The Texas Senate Justice Committee recently approved a bill that will ease the penalties for first-time drunk drivers. They will be given a chance at rehabilitation without having to spend any time in jail.

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    Lawmakers Consider Easing DWI Penalties

    Specifically, the bill would allow prosecutors to defer prosecution if the following specific criteria are met:

    • It is the driver’s first arrest for drunk driving.
    • The driver has no criminal record.
    • The blood alcohol content was less than 0.15.
    • There was no property damage caused by the drunk driver.
    • There were no personal injuries caused by the drunk driver.

    The first-time offender convicted of a DWI will be required to install an interlock ignition device unless a substance abuse evaluation finds the person does not present an ongoing threat to public safety. Interlock ignition devices can be expensive plus there are monthly monitoring costs. The bill includes a provision for financial aid for those who need it. The driver will also be on probation for two years.

    Supporters of the Bill

    The Comal County District Attorney testified to the committee that she supports the bill. She brought a letter to the committee signed by 50 other Texas state prosecutors who agree with her. Their consensus was that many first-time offenders do not deserve the harsh punishments now given under the current law.

    According to news reports, the District Attorney testified that the bill will help many she sees, such as a “young offender, it’s a senior citizen with a pristine criminal record…it’s a veteran with PTSD…” It is these types of individuals who will receive a second chance if the bill becomes law.

    The bill, HB 3582, originated in the Texas House of Representatives. The Senate Committee has now sent it to the full Senate for consideration.

    If you have been arrested for a DWI offense, contact us at the AMS Law Group to discuss your case.

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