Fall 2019
86th Legislative Update
by Judge Laura A. Weiser, Judicial Resource Liaison

There were two very important impaired driving bills passed during the 86th Legislative Session.

The first gives judges the ability grant deferred adjudication for a first time DWI.

HB 3582 amends Art. 42A.201(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to authorize deferred adjudication for a DWI unless:
The offense is a DWI with child passenger, a Flying While Intoxicated, an Operating an Amusement Ride While Intoxicated, an Intoxication Assault or an Intoxication Manslaughter; or If, at the time of the offense:
     The defendant held a Commercial Driver’s License or a CDL Learner’s Permit; or
     The defendant had a B.A.C. of 0.15 or greater; or
     The defendant had a prior impaired driving conviction.

This bill also amends Art. 42A.408 by adding (e-1) and (e-2) which require a defendant who is granted deferred adjudication to install an ignition interlock device and prohibits the defendant from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with that device. This requirement may be waived if, based on a controlled substance and alcohol evaluation, the Judge finds an ignition interlock is not necessary for the safety of the community.

Section 42A.408 (e-1) also provides for a payment schedule for the IID, if the judge finds the person is unable to pay the costs. If the Judge makes a finding of indigence, the Judge may reduce the costs by waiving an installation fee and reducing the monthly monitoring fee by 50%.

This bill also amends Chapter 49 of the Penal Code to provide that a prior impaired driving offense, for which the defendant was granted deferred adjudication, can still be used as a prior conviction for enhancement purposes.

Subchapter E-1, Chapter 411 of the Government Code is amended by adding Section 411.0726 which allows non-disclosure on or after the second anniversary date of the completion of a deferred sentence unless the State presents sufficient evidence that the offense resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person. z

Article 17.441(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is amended to add the requirement of an ignition interlock device as a condition of bond in a DWI with child passenger offense.

The second bill, HB 2048, repeals Chapter 708 of the Transportation Code-The Driver Responsibility Program.

This change applies to any surcharge pending on 9/1/19 and requires the reinstatement of all driver’s licenses that are suspended solely for the failure to pay a surcharge.

This bill also increases the state traffic fine from $30 to $50.

The bill adds Chapter 709 to the Transportation Code titled “Miscellaneous Traffic Fines.”

This chapter adds an additional fine for any person finally convicted of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Those fines are:
     1. $3,000 for the first conviction within a 36 month period
     2. $4500 for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36 month period; and
     3. $6000 for a first or subsequent conviction if it shown on the trial of the offense that there was a B.A.C. of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed.

The bill provides that if the Judge makes a finding that the person is indigent, the Judge shall waive all fines and costs imposed by this section. Sec. 79.001(d) provides the procedure for making a finding of indigency.

After the county retains 4% of the money collected as a service fee, the remainder must be remitted to the comptroller quarterly. The money shall be deposited: 80% to the general revenue fund to be used only for criminal justice purposes; and 20% to the trauma facility and emergency services account created under Section 780.003 of the Health and Safety Code.

There were several other bills of interest:

SB 1147 Amends Art. 42A.402(d) to allow a judge to require that a defendant submit to an evaluation by a licensed physician to determine whether the defendant would benefit from Medication Assisted Treatment. This requirement must be based on the results an evaluation performed under Art. 42A.402(d) to determine whether the defendant needs treatment for drug or alcohol dependency. The defendant is entitled to refuse to participate in MAT and the Judge cannot require it as a condition of community supervision.

HB 162 limits mandatory and DPS departmental suspensions for driving without a valid license to 90 days. This applies to suspensions based on conduct that occurred on or after 9/1/19.

SB 346 creates a consolidated fee system for felonies, Class A and B misdemeanors and non-jailable misdemeanors.

As part of the consolidation, the $60 court cost collected on certain alcohol and drug cases and used for specialty court programs is repealed and replaced with a percentage of the consolidated state and local fees.

HB 2955 Amends Section 121.002 of the Government Code to move oversight of specialty courts from the Office of the Governor to the Office of Court Administration. It requires OCA to provide technical assistance upon request, coordinate with the entity funded by Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s office (Specialty Court Resource Center), monitor compliance with best practices and notify the Governor’s Office of non-compliance.

HB 156 allows the supervision of occupational driver’s license petitioner by a personal bond office. The bond office can charge an administrative fee between $25 and $60 per month.

SB 1125 adds Art. 38.076 to the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow a forensic analyst to use a video teleconferencing system to provide witness testimony.

The Texas Impaired Driving Judicial Bench Book is a project of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, a division of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which is part of The Texas A&M University System. Its creation and distribution has been funded by a generous grant from theTexas Department of Transportation. It is provided free of charge to all Texas judges who conduct the magistration, supervision, and disposition of Texas impaired driving offenses. The forms included are offered as judicial aids only and should be independently reviewed by judges and/or legal counsel before their use in a courtroom setting. The contents were authored, arranged, and edited by Judge David L. Hodges (Ret.) with substantial input and assistance provided by the judicial focus group:

• Judge Diane Bull (ret.), Harris County Criminal Ct., #11.
• Judge Vik Deivanayagam, County Court at Law, McLennan County.
• Judge Mark Hocker, County Court at Law #1, Lubbock County.
• Judge Greg Holly, County Judge, Ward County.
• Judge Walter (Pete) Peterson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 2, McLennan County.

The Bench Book is available on the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education website at: http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/TTI-2019-1.pdf.
A Word version of the forms are provided so you may format the materials as you see fit: http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/TTI-2019-1-forms.docx.

The 86th Legislature passed HB 2955 transferring oversight of Texas Specialty Courts to the Office of Court Administration (OCA) from the governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD). OCA will provide technical assistance to specialty courts, monitor compliance of the specialty courts with programmatic best practices, and coordinate and provide information to CJD. The transition took effect 9/1/2019. More details to come.

If you have any immediate questions please contact Anissa Johnson, Office of Court Administration at Anissa.Johnson@txcourts.gov.

It's never too early to register for next year's training.

DWI Court Team Basic Training
March 2-4, 2020
Georgetown, Texas

DWI Court Team Advanced Conference
March 5-6, 2020
Georgetown, Texas

Log in to your profile at www.yourhonor.com to see more details. If you have questions about either of these programs or which one might be appropriate for you, please contact hollyd@yourhonor.com.

Please share this information with your team!

Resource Roundup

Breath Alcohol Laboratory Records

In reference to discovery requests involving Breath Alcohol Laboratory Records, these records may now be accessed online at www.DPS.Texas.gov/BALLAB

To review the DPS records available online click here.

Laws relating to Ignition Interlock Requirements

A summary of laws as they relate to ignition interlock requirements can be found here.

As we conclude the FY 19 grant year, the Traffic Safety Grant Program would like to thank the members of the DWI Curriculum Committee and all of the faculty that freely give of their time and energy to research and prepare to speak at our conferences. We would like to especially thank the judicial faculty who presented at this year's conferences: Judge Thomas Bradley "Brad" Cates, McLennan County Court at at Law No. 2, Judge Vikram "Vik" Deivanayagam, McClennan County Court at Law, Judge Randy Gray, Comal County Court at Law #1, and Judge Mark Hocker, Lubbock County Court at Law #1.

To access the full list of impaired driving conference papers, handouts and PowerPoint presentations simply log-in to your judicial profile on www.yourhonor.com and under the Resources tab choose Publications Library and then DWI as the category. 

We would like to recognize the outgoing members of the DWI Curriculum Committee: Judge Stephen Bristow, 90th District Court, and Judge Mark Hocker.  Both of these judges have given freely of their time and talents and have made outstanding contributions to our impaired driving programs.

In the News


Appeals Court Rules Boxer’s Blood Samples Can Be Used in Deadly DWI Trial  
(KTSM NBC 9 El Paso, 9/10/19)

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that blood evidence in the case against former boxer Joel Garcia, who was allegedly drunk when he ran a red light, striking a car carrying three El Pasoans on Christmas Eve 2014 can be used against him, despite an earlier ruling that threw the evidence out.

Texas raises sentencing for hit-and-run car accidents to equivalent of DWI manslaughter
(The Texas Tribune, 09/20/2019)
A new law increased the punishment for failing to stop and render aid to match the sentence for DWI manslaughter. The goal is to deter drunken drivers from leaving the scene of an accident.


Thousands of DWI cases in Harris County thrown into question after blood vial recall
(Houston Chronicle, 06/21/2019)
Thousands of drunken driving cases in Harris County will be reviewed after a recall of potentially faulty vials used to hold samples for blood-alcohol tests, according to the district attorney’s office.

On July 8th the Texas Forensic Science Commission issued a memorandum about the recall of BD grey top tubes catalog number 367001 lot number 8187663. For more information click here.

The Texas Transportation Institute’s latest Drug Impaired Driving Newsletter can be found here: https://groups.tti.tamu.edu/cades/2019/05/03/drug-impaired-driving-newsletter-volume-1-issue-2/

The Impaired Driving Assessment (IDA) Training is now offered through a free online course. It is a self-paced course with an exam a the end. For more information click here.

Contact Us
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.