Are Changes Coming to Texas DWI Laws?

Changes to the DWI laws in Texas may be coming our way this year. Several state legislators are proposing changes to the different aspects of DWI law, and those changes would increase the penalties for instances of Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault. Both of these already carry stiff penalties and are treated as felonies.

The justification for changes to these laws are the number of DWI-related fatalities and injuries that occur every year. The primary proponents of the changes are State Representative Metcalf, and District Attorney Brett Ligon. The proposals announced in the legislation would only increase penalties under certain circumstances.

Intoxication Assault and Manslaughter

As the law stands now, Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault are found in Texas Penal Code Section 49. Currently, if a person is found guilty of Intoxication Manslaughter, he or she is guilty of a second degree felony and face probation up to 20 years in prison. Intoxication Assault, defined as someone suffering serious bodily injury by a drunk driver, is a third degree felony with a penalty of probation to 10 years in prison.

Both of these crimes are serious and come with serious penalties. In certain circumstances, such as when a police officer is killed, they can even be enhanced. If this new law is passed, then there will be numerous, additional ways in which these two crimes can be enhanced, those include:

  • When there is more than one victim seriously hurt or who dies in the accident;
  • If the person hurt or injured is a child;
  • If the suspect does not stop to help the victim of the crash;
  • If the suspect did not have a valid driver’s license or insurance;
  • If the suspect was trying to escape or flee from the police;
  • When the suspect has prior DWI convictions.

Those represent valid reasons why a DWI should be punished more harshly.

As we noted earlier in this post, for both intoxication assault and manslaughter, there is a wide range of punishment available. For manslaughter it can be a penalty of probation to 20 years, and with assault, probation to 10 years. In both situations the judge of the case hand down either a light or heavy sentence depending on what happened, and what the prosecution proved.

Defending All Aspects of DWI

A DWI is anything but a simple case, no matter what the charges involved are. Whether it is a first time DWI or a charge of DWI Manslaughter, or anything in between, you need the right legal counsel helping you defend those charges. Any defense requires extensive research into the facts of what happened, in addition to the knowledge of the applicable law and experience that comes from devoting a career to DWI defense.

No case is simple and no defense is simple. If you are facing DWI charges, contact us at The Wilder DWI Defense Firm. We will help you understand what your options are, and counsel you as to what steps you need to take next.