The proposed legislation, HB 189, was authored by State Representative Todd Smith (R-Euless), would make the use of an interlock device mandatory for anyone placed on deferred adjudication for DWI. The bill would also add intoxication offenses to the list of crimes for which nondisclosure is not permitted.
Under the proposed legislation, a deferred adjudication for drunk driving would be counted as a conviction for enhancement purposes.
The bill has the support of MADD, who wants an end to the "masking" of DWI's by "reducing charges" to reckless driving, obstruction of a highway or public intoxication.
"Generally, we do not support deferred adjudication bills, but we are going to support this one. Right now, we are hearing that many cases are not getting prosecuted for DWI but for a bogus charge. We hope the practice of reducing charges will be reduced if this bill does indeed pass." -- Bill Lewis, MADD public policy liaisonAccording to the article in this morning's Houston Chronicle, when a house committee held a hearing on what to do about DWI's last August, there were over 122,000 cases pending throughout the state. Permitting courts to offer deferred adjudication on drunk driving cases should ease the pressure on prosecutors and courts throughout the state as it would give prosecutors and defense attorneys another tool with which to resolve cases.
It would also ease the financial burden on motorists since there would be no conviction for DWI, there would be no surcharge imposed.
My quibble with Rep. Smith's proposal is barring nondisclosure in DWI cases since law enforcement and state licensing agencies have access to the arrest records of defendants whose cases were disposed of through deferred adjudication.
While I think it unlikely at this juncture that the legislature would pass HB 189, the odd pairing of prosecutors, defense attorneys and MADD may very well be enough to get the proposed legislation before the fair-haired one.