Proposed Texas Laws Would Increase DUI/DWI Punishment

Horrific stories often inspire new legislation. When two-year-old Abdallah Khader was left severely brain damaged as a result of a drunk driving accident, it did not take long for a legislator to take up his cause in the hopes of preventing similar incidents in the future.

Texas State Rep. Chris Turner recently announced his plans to introduce two pieces of legislation affecting those convicted of DWI. Named Abdallah's Laws, in honor of the injured boy, the proposed pieces of legislation would increase the penalties for some people convicted of drunk driving.

What Would Abdallah's Laws Do?

The first piece of legislation would create more severe DWI penalties for drunk drivers who cause car accidents resulting in severe brain injuries . Essentially, the law would elevate the consequences for drunk driving accidents where someone is left with life-altering, permanent brain damage. As Rep. Turner noted in a press conference announcing his proposal, "clearly there's a difference between a broken leg and a permanent vegetative state;" the proposed law would account for these differences when determining the consequences for a drunk driver.

The second piece of legislation would clarify the state's treatment of drunk driving convictions occurring out of state. State laws vary; actions resulting in misdemeanor charges in one state may lead to felony DWI charges in another. Under this proposed law, Texas courts would consider the actions of repeat offenders rather than the classification of the offense under another state's laws.

Time Will Only Tell

New bills cannot be submitted until the next legislative session begins in November, and Rep. Turner is facing a challenger in the general election. Accordingly, he may not ever have a chance to submit his proposed law.

However, if these changes ultimately take effect, Texas will impose tougher penalties for many people convicted of DWI, particularly for those with prior convictions. With the prospect of such changes it is increasingly important for those accused of DWI to aggressively challenge the charges.

If you have been accused of drunk driving, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options and protect your rights.