DWI Newsletter

Spring 2023


Announcing: March Noontime Knowledge
We may be getting back to in-person events, but that doesn't mean we have to completely abandon the virtual world! The third Noontime Knowledge will be on Friday, March 10 at 12:00 pm (CST). This virtual program will cover changes in license suspension for marijuana and controlled substance and imposition of a fine in lieu of suspension included in SB 181 of the 87th legislative session. To register, click here

Impaired Driving Bond Conditions
By: Judge Laura Weiser

With all the attention focused on setting bonds, I thought this would be a good time to review the mandatory and permissive bond conditions for impaired driving offenses.

Let’s start with mandatory conditions. The condition that receives the most attention is the requirement that the defendant install an ignition interlock device. These devices work by requiring the driver to blow into a mouthpiece to test their breath alcohol concentration before they can start their vehicle. If their BrAC is greater than the level set by the monitoring authority, the device prevents the vehicle’s engine from starting.

Art. 17.441 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure mandates installation of an ignition interlock device upon release on bond for a subsequent offense of 49.04 (DWI), 49.05 (FWI), 49.06 (BWI), or an offense under 49.045 (DWI w/child pass.), 49.07 (Intox. Assault) or 49.08 (Intox. Manslaughter).

This condition also requires the inclusion of an order that defendant not operate any motor vehicle unless the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device.

Art. 17441(b) permits the magistrate waive installation of the device if the requirement would not be in the best interest of justice.

If the device is ordered, the magistrate shall require installation, at defendant’s expense, before the 30th day after the defendant is released on bond. This means you can order installation in a shorter period of time but the maximum is 30 days.

Verification of installation and monitoring compliance with your order is crucial. Research has shown that up to 2/3rds of offenders will avoid installation if not monitored. Art. 17.441(d) allows the magistrate to designate an appropriate agency to verify installation and monitor compliance. The designated agency may charge a fee of $10 to verify installation and $10 per month to monitor compliance. Monitoring compliance protects the community and allows you to sanction non-compliance and incentivize compliance.

Frequently asked questions about ignition interlocks:
1. Is it mandatory to require an IID for release on bond for a Class A offense of a BAC of .15 or greater?
No. It is required as a condition of community supervision but not for bond.
2. Can a magistrate order an IID on a first time DWI?
Yes. Art. 17.40 allows a magistrate to impose any reasonable condition of bond related to the safety of the victim or the community.
3. Can the magistrate order a Secure Remote Alcohol Monitoring device (SCRAM) or a portable home alcohol monitor instead of an IID?
No. Art. 17.441 specifically requires an IID. Other monitoring devices do not prevent the defendant from starting their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
4. Who is required to monitor installation and compliance?
The magistrate who initially orders the condition is required to monitor installation and compliance until a case is filed in the trial court. Then it becomes the trial court’s responsibility.

Other Mandatory Conditions:
Art. 17.03 (c) when setting a personal bond:
on reasonable belief by the investigating or arresting law enforcement agent or magistrate of the presence of a controlled substance in the defendant's body or on the finding of drug or alcohol abuse related to the offense for which the defendant is charged, the court or a magistrate shall require as a condition of personal bond that the defendant submit to testing for alcohol or a controlled substance in the defendant's body and participate in an alcohol or drug abuse treatment or education program if such a condition will serve to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant for trial.

Permissive Conditions of Bond:
1. Art. 17.43 Home Curfew and Electronic Monitoring as a condition of release on a personal bond. A curfew may be particularly useful for defendants whose history indicates that they frequent bars in the evening; and
2. Art. 17.44 Home Confinement, Electronic Monitoring and Drug Testing as a condition. Drug testing is important if the impaired driving offense involves a substance other than alcohol. Keep in mind that most of the defendants you see are polysubstance users. It is critical to monitor them for both alcohol and other substances.

Other Reasonable Conditions of Bond:
1. Reporting to a pre-trial agency or designated monitoring agency;
2. Abstinence from drugs or alcohol. (If you order an IID, this is crucial);
3. Assessment to determine if defendant has a Substance Use Disorder;
4. Assessment to determine if defendant would be an appropriate participant in a treatment court; or
5. Substance Use Disorder treatment.

Questions to determine if a condition is “reasonable”:
1. Does the condition protect a victim or the community?
2. Does the condition help to ensure that the Defendant will return to court?
3. Is the condition(s) respectful to the defendant’s presumption of innocence?

Have Gavel, Will Travel (virtually or in-person)!
Do the judges in your courthouse or in your area have questions about impaired driving? Are you looking for an opportunity to bring together all the judges in your jurisdiction who handle impaired driving cases from bond to trial to supervision, especially now that you're back in the same building? We know you can set up your own meeting, but let us do it instead! We will handle designing an impaired driving presentation that fits your needs, just give us a time and audience.

Judge Laura Barker Receives MADD Judiciary Service Award

Judge Laura Barker, Williamson County Court at Law Two, was the recipient of the Judiciary Service Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognizing achievement and outstanding service to prevent drunk driving in Travis and Williamson counties. Each year, MADD, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), recognizes achievement and outstanding service as part of the ‘Take the Wheel’ initiative to end impaired driving. The award is given to a judge who goes above and beyond to support, prevent and eliminate drunk driving. This is the second time Judge Barker received this recognition. The first time was in 2020. “I’m truly honored to receive this award from MADD and to work alongside such a dedicated team committed to prevent drunk driving in Williamson County,” said Judge Barker. Judge Laura Barker was sworn in on June 17, 2016. She is the presiding judge of the Veterans Treatment Court and misdemeanor DWI/Drug Court program. She has served on the Texas Center for the Judiciary’s DWI Curriculum Committee since 2016. The award was presented at their annual Central Texas Law Enforcement Recognition Event on August 19, 2022. In addition, Anthony Stokes, chief intake attorney in the County Attorney’s Office, received the Prosecutor of the Year award for the work he does in helping to end drunk driving working in the DWI/Drug Court.

Photo: Judge Laura Barker is joined by members of the Round Rock Police Department who are current or past law enforcement representatives for the DWI/Drug Court program. They received the Commitment Hero Award for the work they do in the community and for the DWI/Drug Court.  (Left to right) Officer Josh Mackey, SGT. Kristen Mayo, Judge Laura Barker, Officer Miguel Estrada, Officer Robert Garcia, Officer Alex Delarosa.


Texas Impaired Driving Task Force Newsletter
The January 2023 Texas Impaired Driving Task Force Newsletter, which includes more resources and events can be found here.

TCJ's DWI Resource Course 

The recorded DWI sessions from 2020 and 2021 have been compiled into one complete course with almost 30 videos to choose from and up to 27.75 MCLE credit hours available. The videos are separated into general DWI issues and videos specific to DWI Courts. Register for the course from the TCJ homepage at www.yourhonor.com.

Judicial Resource Center on Drug-Impaired Driving
The Judicial Resource Center on Impaired Driving is a cooperative effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The National Judicial College (NJC). It is a repository for judges, state judicial educators, and other court staff on the latest cases, trends, and curricula around impaired driving and promising interventions. Their resources can be found here .

Contact Us
If you have suggestions for items to be included, or have an accomplishment or award that you would like to share, 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 hope you find the information in this Newsletter interesting and helpful. Please contact the Traffic Safety Program with any questions or comments.