DWI Newsletter

Spring 2017

2017 Impaired Driving Legislative Update

Now that the March 10, 2017 60 day filing deadline has passed, we can take an initial look at bills filed that relate to impaired driving.  The House has filed a total of 5325 bills and the Senate 2748 bills. Fortunately, a small fraction of those involve impaired driving issues. The Honorable Jean Hughes chairs the Criminal Justice Legislative Subcommittee for the Judicial Section of the State Bar and will be keeping us up to date on all the criminal justice legislation as the 85th session continues. 

Ignition Interlocks

HB 117 by White in Corrections scheduled for a public hearing on 3/16/17

Amends Article 42A.408 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Allows an ethyl alcohol monitoring device to be ordered in lieu of or in addition to requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device. The device may only be ordered in addition to an IID for a defendant subject to 49.09(h) (second conviction within 5 years).

HB1275 by Moody in Criminal Jurisprudence

Amends Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code by adding Section 49.091. Makes it a Class B misdemeanor to violate a condition of bond, a condition of community supervision or a court order relating to the requirement of installation of an ignition interlock. Punishment is enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown the defendant has previously been convicted under this section.

HB 4003 by Tinderholt

Amends Article 17.441 and Article 42A.408 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Transportation Code Section 521.246 by adding a subsection that would require a magistrate who orders an ignition interlock device to submit the name of the defendant and the date the restriction expires to DPS for inclusion in a central database. This bill also amends Transportation Code Section 521.2476(b) to require the vendor to submit the make, model, vehicle ID, and license plate and the name of the person subject to a court order requiring installation of the ignition interlock device to DPS for inclusion in the central database created to contain that information.

Driver Responsibility Program

HB 67 by White in Transportation
SB 90 by Hall is similar and referred to Transportation
SB 661 by Huffines is similar and is referred to Transportation
HB 275 by Gonzales, Larry is a duplicate to HB 67

These bills call for the repeal of the driver responsibility program

HB 2068 by Phillips
SB 2185 by Miles is similar

Repeals the driver responsibility program but creates an annual “traffic fine” in addition to the fine prescribed for the offense for a final conviction relating to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The “fine” is $1000 per year for three years unless the conviction is for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36 month period then it is $1500 and if it is shown that the BAC was 0.16 or more at the time of analysis, the “fine” is $2000.

This bill also creates a traffic fine for driving without financial responsibility.

HB 1016 by Krause
SB 599 by Burton is identical and referred to Transportation

These bills amend Subchapter D, Chapter 708 of the Transportation Code by adding Section 708.160 which allows a court to defer surcharges for a person who is participating in a drug court program for the underlying offense
giving rise to the surcharge.  If the person successfully completes the program, the Court may reduce or waive the surcharges.

HB 1430 by Thompson, Senfronia referred to Homeland Security and Public Safety
SB 779 by Seliger is identical and referred to Transportation

These bills amend Section 708.158(a) of the Transportation Code to allow the Court, on its own motion to inquire whether the person would like to submit evidence to establish indigency.

HB 4019 by Giddings

Requires DPS to establish an amnesty program for holders of a driver’s license on which a surcharge has been assessed under Chapter 708 of the Transportation Code. No reductions for surcharges assessed as the result of a conviction for DWI.

HB 266 by Watson in Transportation

Reduces surcharge for DWI to $500 for 3 years for a first DWI, $750 per year for a second or subsequent and $1000 per year for a BAC of 0.16 or more.

Blood Search Warrants

HB 1322 by Burns in Criminal Jurisprudence

Amends Article 18.01(j) to allow any attorney magistrate or any justice of the peace to issue a search warrant under Article 18.02(10) for a blood specimen.

DWI Court Team Conference Spotlight on Success Awards
The 4th annual Spotlight on Success Awards, presented at the 2017 DWI Court Team Advanced Conference, recognized the efforts of an outstanding DWI Court team member and an exemplary DWI Court program. The Bexar County DWI Court was honored with the Spotlight on Success Outstanding Team award and Deputy Rhonda Lawson-Haugabook, Harris County SOBER Courts, was honored with the Spotlight on Success Outstanding Team Member award.

Deputy Lawson with Harris Co. SOBER Court judges (Jay Karahan, Diane Bull, Robin Brown, Don Smyth, Natalie Fleming and Paula Goodhart). Read more here.

The Texas Center Traffic Safety Grant Program would like to extend a very special thank you to Judge Lori Rickert and the entire Brazoria County DWI Court Team for allowing the attendees of the Basic Training to observe their court.

Deferred Adjudication

SB 761 by Menendez in Criminal Justice

HB 2089 filed by White is identical.  No hearing date has been set as of March 14, 2017

This bill would amends Article 42A.102(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow a judge to grant deferred adjudication community supervision to a defendant charged with an offense under 49.04 (DWI) or 49.06 (BWI) unless the defendant held a commercial driver’s license or a commercial driver learner’s permit or the offense can be enhanced under 49.09 or the defendant is charged with an offense that can be increased under Section 481.134 (c),(d),(e) or (f) of the Health and Safety Code (drug free zones).

These bills required installation of an ignition interlock and consider deferred adjudication a conviction for the purposes of enhancement.

SB 664 by Huffines is similar but a little broader in that it includes 49.05 (FWI) and 49.065 (Assembling or Operating an Amusement Ride While Intoxicated) in the offenses for which deferred would be available unless the defendant holds a CDL.


HB 140 by Dutton referred to Criminal Jurisprudence

Prohibits the use of a prior conviction under 49.04, 49.045, 49.05, 49.06 or 49.065 that was committed more than 10 years before the date on which the offense for which the person is being tried was committed.

HB 1327 by Metcalf in Criminal Jurisprudence

Enhances punishment for a conviction under 49.07 (intoxication Assault) to a second degree felony for causing serious bodily injury in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state; to more than one person during the same criminal transaction; to a person younger than 17; failing to stop and render aid; operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license or proof of financial responsibility; fleeing or evading law enforcement or has one or more prior convictions for DWI, BWI, FWI or operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

Enhances punishment for a conviction under 49.08 (Intoxication Manslaughter)to a felony of the first degree for causing the death of: a peace officer, firefighter, or ems while in the discharge of duty; more than one person during the same criminal transaction, a person younger than 17, failing to stop and render aid; operating a vehicle without evidence of financial responsibility; fleeing or evading a law enforcement officer or having one or more prior conviction for DWI, BWI, FWI or operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

On-Line Education Courses

SB333 by West
HB 833 by King is identical and was scheduled for a public hearing in Criminal Jurisprudence on 3/13/17

These bills allow for online DWI and Repeat Offender Education courses.

Mark Your Calendars!

Impaired Driving Summit
June 8, 2017 - Abilene, click here for more information and to register.
June 29, 2017 - Uvalde, click here for more information and to register.

2017 Impaired Driving Symposium
July 24-25, 2017 - Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
Click here for more information and to register.

2017 Annual Judicial Education Conference
September 5-8, 2017 - Marriott Marquis, Houston

In the News


Utah Cuts DUI Alcohol Limit To Lowest Level In U.S.; Law Also Affects Gun Owners
(Aspen Public Radio, 3/24/2017)
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a bill into law that lowers the maximum blood alcohol limit for drivers to .05 percent from the current legal threshold of .08 percent — giving Utah the strictest drunken driving law in the nation. In addition to drivers, the law applies to anyone carrying a dangerous weapon.

Report: State's interlock system stops thousands of drunk drivers
(Houston Chronicle, 3/21/2017)
Austin — Fewer drunk drivers are able to hit the road in Texas thanks to ignition interlock systems, according to a recent report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

Arizona Supreme Court Limits DUI Law on Taking Blood Samples
(U.S. News & World Report, 3/07/2017)
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona Supreme Court ruling Thursday said police can't have blood samples taken from an unconscious DUI suspect without obtaining a search warrant or facing urgent circumstances beyond the natural dissipation of alcohol in blood.

Appeals court affirms drunk driving conviction 
(Livingston Daily, 02/24/2017)
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the drunken conviction of a Wayne County man who was not wearing pants when his vehicle crashed in Livingston County in 2015.

National Center for DWI Courts, Free Webinar: Treating Veterans in DWI Court - April 6 
For more information and to register click here.

El Paso County Criminal Court at Law #2 Named DWI Academy Court
Once again, the National Center for DWI Courts, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has chosen El Paso County Criminal Court at Law #2's DWI Intervention and Treatment Program as one of four DWI Academy Courts!   

Academy Courts serve as model court program training sites for future courts who desire to create their own DWI Drug Courts. They can host training sessions, provide technical assistance and help develop, create, identify and test national best practices for DWI Courts. As impaired drivers are one of the most serious threats to our community and its safety, Academy Courts hold DWI offenders accountable for their actions, while at the same time affording them treatment and counseling they need to change and turn their lives around.

Contact Us
This newsletter has been provided by the Texas Center for the Judiciary pursuant to a grant from TxDOT.  If you have suggestions for items to be included in this Newsletter or wish to be removed from the Newsletter mailing list, please contact: 

Judge Laura A. Weiser
Judicial Resource Liaison

Holly Doran
TxDOT Program Director

The DWI Listserv is open to all judges handling DWI cases. If you would like to be added to the Listserv please send an email to hollyd@yourhonor.com. We are continuously adding to the Texas Judges’ DWI Resource Website with news articles and upcoming educational opportunities.  We hope you find the  information in this Newsletter interesting and helpful. Please contact the Traffic Safety Program with any questions or comments.