DWI Newsletter

Fall 2017

2017 Impaired Driving Legislative Update

The following update was to be presented at the Annual Judicial Education Conference by Judge Laura Weiser. The PowerPoint can be found by logging in to www.yourhonor.com.

Not much changed in the impaired driving arena as a result of the 85th Regular and Special Legislative Sessions. HB 3016 is the only one that directly impacts impaired driving. That is not to say that there weren’t plenty of bills that were passed and signed by the Governor in the area of criminal justice.  A few of those are briefly highlighted below.  This is certainly not an exhaustive review.

HB 3016 by Sefronia Thompson Effective September 1, 2017

This bill amends Chapter 411 of the Government Code and allows a person convicted of driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration less than 0.15 to petition for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history related to the offense. This person could petition for the order only if the person:

  1. had never been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for another offense, other than a fine-only traffic offense;
  2. had successfully completed any imposed community supervision and any term of confinement;
  3. had paid all fines, costs, and restitution imposed. 

 A person may petition the court that placed the person on community supervision for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information under this section only on or after:

(1) the second anniversary of the date of completion of the community supervision, if the person successfully complied with a condition of community supervision that, for a period of not less than six months, restricted the person’s operation of a motor vehicle to a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device; or

(2) the fifth anniversary of the date of completion of the community supervision, if the court that placed the person on community supervision did not order the person to comply with a condition of operating a vehicle with an ignition interlock.

A person that completes a sentence following a first DWI conviction, including any term of confinement imposed and payment of all fines, costs, and restitution imposed, may petition the court for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information under this section only on or after:

(1)  the third anniversary of the date of completion of the person ’s sentence, if the person successfully complied with a condition of the sentence that, for a period of not less than six months, restricted the person ’s operation of a motor vehicle to a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device; or

(2) the fifth anniversary of the date of completion of the person ’s sentence, if the court that imposed the sentence did not order the person to comply with a condition of operating a vehicle with an ignition interlock.

The court would not be able to issue an order of nondisclosure if an attorney representing the state presented evidence sufficient to the court that demonstrated the commission of the offense for which the order was sought resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person, including a passenger in the vehicle of the person seeking the order.

Other Criminal Justice Bills of Interest

SB 1584 by Garcia and Rodriguez Effective September 1, 2017

Amends Art. 42A.301 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to require the judge to consider the results of a validated risk and needs assessment before ordering conditions of community supervision. The bill also requires that the judge not impose a condition that is duplicative of another condition and to consider the extent to which the conditions impact the defendant’s work, education and community service schedule or obligations and the defendant’s ability to meet financial obligations. The judge must consider the results of an evaluation conducted to determine the appropriate type and level of treatment necessary to address the defendant’s alcohol or drug dependency before requiring treatment in a state funded substance abuse treatment program as a condition of community supervision.

HB 1507 by Giddings Effective September 1, 2017

This bill amends Art. 26.13 of  the Code of Criminal Procedure to require a court before accepting a defendant's plea of guilty or nolo contendere and to require a judge placing a defendant on community supervision to inform the defendant of the court's or judge's authority to release the defendant from the penalties and disabilities resulting from the applicable offense after the defendant satisfactorily fulfills the conditions of community supervision and on expiration of the supervision period. The bill provides for the standardized form to be created by the Office of Court Administration to be used in the discharge of a defendant from a period of community supervision. This applies to pleas or discharges from community supervision occurring on or after January 1, 2018.

HB 1442 by Wu Effective September 1, 2017

House Bill 1442 amends Article 44.04 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to entitle a defendant, pending the determination of the defendant's motion for a new trial or appeal from a misdemeanor conviction, to be released after completion of a sentence of confinement imposed for the conviction. The bill authorizes the trial court to require the defendant to give a personal bond but prohibits the trial court from requiring any condition of the personal bond, another type of bail bond, or a surety or other security.

HB 3391 by Geren Effective September 1, 2017

House Bill 3391 amends Subtitle K, Title 2 of the Government Code and Code of Criminal Procedure to authorize a county commissioners court to create a public safety employees treatment court program as a specialty court for peace officers, firefighters, detention officers, county jailers, or emergency medical services employees of the state or a political subdivision of the state arrested for or charged with any misdemeanor or felony offense, to provide for the establishment of a regional program by the commissioners courts of two or more counties, and to impose applicable fees for program participation and testing, counseling, and treatment. The bill also amends Art. 59.062 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to require funds deposited to the credit of the drug court account to help fund specialty court programs including this one.

SB 42 by Zaffirini and Hinojosa Effective September 1, 2017
This act may be cited as the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017

Amends Art. 102.017(f) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and requires the establishment of a court security committee composed of the presiding judge or their designee, a representative of the law enforcement agency providing primary security for the court, a representative of the municipality and any other person necessary to assist the committee.  Committee would establish policies and procedures necessary to provide adequate security.

Adds Sec. 51.971 of Chapter 51 of the Govt. Code to provide for a $5 fee on civil cases. Requires a court security certification for a person to serve as a court security officer for appellate, district, statutory county, county, municipal or justice court.

Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 72 Govt. Code by adding Sections 72.015 and 72.016 OCA will establish a judicial security division to provide guidance.

Makes public records exemptions for a current or former federal or state judge, the judge’s spouse, a current or former district attorney, criminal district attorney or county attorney whose jurisdiction includes any criminal law or child protective services matter.

SB 1849 by Whitmire Effective September 1, 2017
This Act shall be known as the Sandra Bland Act, in memory of Sandra Bland.

Amends Article 16.22 and adds Art. 16.23 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to require early identification and diversion of persons with an intellectual disability and persons suffering a mental health crisis or substance abuse issue.

SB 1913 by Zaffirini and Thompson Effective September 1, 2017

Amends Articles 14.06(b), 17.42, 27.14, 42.15,  43.09, 43.091, 43.05, 45.016, 45.0425, 45.048, 45.045, 45.046(a), 45.048, 45.049, 45.0491, 45.0492, 45.051(a), 45.0511, and 103.0031 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Sections 502.010, 706.005, and 706.006 of the Transportation Code to revise provisions relating to the administrative, civil, and criminal consequences, including fines, fees, and costs, imposed on persons arrested for, charged with, or convicted of certain criminal offenses. The bill provides for alternatives to the payment of those fines, fees, and costs, such as waiving the payment, discharging the payment through community service, or imposing a combination of the alternatives, due to the defendant's inability to provide the payment. These changes require a hearing on the defendant’s ability to satisfy a judgment before a capias pro fine can be issued. 

Computerized Assessment and Referral System

The Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance and Responsibility.org Launch CARS

On June 21st, the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and Responsibility.org announced a new program to identify often undiagnosed mental health and substance use issues affecting drunk drivers, especially repeat drunk drivers. The Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) is a first-of-its-kind screening and assessment tool for use in DWI intervention and treatment, specifically targeting the underlying mental health conditions often found in drivers with multiple DUI arrests and convictions. The screening and assessment tool is tied to a report generator accompanied by a referral database.  

What is it?

The CARS tool has the potential to change the way society addresses DWI offenders. It was developed to reduce drunk driving, especially among repeat DWI offenders who often suffer from multiple unidentified and untreated disorders. In one study, in addition to a lifetime alcohol disorder, 41% of the participants had a drug-related disorder and 44% had a major mental health disorder that was not alcohol or drug-related (Shaffer et al., 2007). Historically, treatment of this offender population has consisted of alcohol education or interventions that focus solely on alcohol or other substance use disorders. Screening for mental health issues in addition to substance use is not always available or performed within DWI treatment programs. CARS was developed to fill this void as its primary purpose is to identify mental health issues that might influence DWI behaviors, facilitate additional treatment for those issues and possibly reduce future recidivism.CARS is a groundbreaking tool for these reasons: 

  • It is a first of its kind screening and assessment tool for use in DWI intervention and treatment settings.
  • It examines the relationship between DWI and psychiatric profiles.
  • It’s quick and easy to use – no training required.
  • It’s free for download at www.CARStrainingcenter.org.
  • It generates immediate personalized reports for the user including risk factors, mental health profiles and targeted referrals to treatment.
  • It’s available in 3 formats - a self-administered screener, an interviewer-administered screener and a full assessment.

To learn more, please visit: https://responsibility.org/stop-impaired-driving/initiatives/cars-dui-assessment-project/. To view or download a webinar that describes the development and implementation of CARS and includes a live demonstration of the software used, please visit this page.

2017 Impaired Driving Symposium Wrap-Up

For the third consecutive year the Texas Association of Counties, Texas Center for the Judiciary, Texas Justice Court Training Center, and Texas Municipal Courts Education Center came together to host the Impaired Driving Symposium.This TxDOT-sponsored conference brings together judges of all levels to discuss impaired driving issues. And, most importantly, it provides an opportunity to discuss complex issues with fellow judges in order to better understand roles and responsibilities when dealing with an impaired driving case. 2017 topics included legislative updates, probable cause, bond conditions, ODL's, drugged driving and more. To view the conference presentations log in to your judicial profile at www.yourhonor.com. Next year's Symposium is scheduled to be held August 2-3 at Horseshoe Bay.

Mark Your Calendars!

DWI Court Basic Training
February 5-7, 2018
Sheraton at the Capitol, Austin

DWI Court Advanced Conference
February 8-9, 2018
Sheraton at the Capitol, Austin

Registration information coming soon!

Have Gavel, Will Travel!

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? We will come to you and provide education on the impaired driving subjects you feel are needed.  We will handle designing a half day, full day or lunchtime presentation. You just need to give us a place, time and audience.

In the News


Hundreds of Wrong DUI Search Warrants?
(WRDW/WAGT, 9/20/2017)
...the deputy went down to the courthouse to get a warrant to involuntarily draw Beasley’s blood to test his blood alcohol level. The problem? Court records show a judge never signed off on that, an employee at the city clerk’s office did.

Roadside Drunk Driving Tests Not Valid For Pot, Mass. High Court Rules
Massachusetts' highest court ruled Tuesday that field sobriety tests typically used in drunken-driving cases cannot be treated as conclusive evidence that a motorist was operating under the influence of marijuana.

Fentanyl linked to thousands of urban overdose deaths
(The Washington Post, 8/15/2017)
PHILADELPHIA — Art Gutierrez comes to the corner of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street every morning to buy heroin. What he’s actually getting in Philadelphia’s notorious open-air drug market is heroin laced with an even more potent additive, often in unpredictable amounts that even antidotes can’t stop from being deadly. That narcotic, increasingly spliced into the nation’s illicit drug supply, is fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller exacerbating heroin’s deadly trap. In cities across America, it is fueling deeper addiction and has become one of the most prominent killers linked to the nation’s drug crisis.

Utah faces backlash over unprecedented drunk driving law
(CBS News, 6/01/2017))
Utah faces growing opposition over a newly-passed drunk driving law that lowers the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05. That makes it the lowest threshold in the nation, and the law is set to go into effect late next year.

TIRF Launches New Web-Based Resource to Help Prevent Drug Impaired Driving
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), in partnership with State Farm® Canada, has launched a Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC) available in both official languages. The Centre is a web-based resource designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle it. The resource can be accessed at: www.druggeddriving.tirf.ca.

Free Web Course from The National Judicial College: Properly and Effectively Adjudicating Drugged Drivers
This is a six week course. There will be class work and a web conference each week. Web conferences are scheduled on Thursday @ 2pm CT. The course begins on 10/30/17 and concludes 12/8/17. This course is eligible for CJE. To register or for more information, go to http://www.judges.org/properly-effectively-adjudicating-drugged-drivers/.

Judge Laura Weiser honored with M.A.D.D. Judiciary Services Award
Travis County Law Enforcement Recognition Event, Friday, September 22, 2017


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.