Proposed bill could change enforcement for first-time drunk drivers

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 2:26pm

For years now, deferred adjudication hasn't been an option for folks caught driving drunk.

But now, a new bill is proposed meant to ultimately acquit drunk drivers if it's their first offense.

Tyler attorney Wes Volberding says they will still be punished.

"Deferred adjudication is a process where the person is punished with a fine, punished with classes, with monthly fees that he has to pay, monthly probation requirements which are stringent here in Tyler...the only thing that changes is that person has the incentive to complete the probation by not obtaining a conviction," Volberding said.

He says it's not an effort to weaken the system, just to make it more efficient.

An unlikely supporter of the bill - Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"Mainly because we believe that this bill really has the ability to limit the deferred adjudication to true first time offenders," said East Texas MADD director, Leslie M. Watson.

Watson says even though MADD supports the bill, many victims of drunk driving may not yet.

"As we actually get to read the bill and to learn more about it then we'll be able to speak more to victims and to our supporters and be able to give them the full range of information that they can use to make a decision on whether they believe this is a good...thing to support or not," Watson said.

Here in Tyler this weekend, police will be cracking down on drunk driving with the DWI "No Refusal" enforcement.

If someone is caught driving drunk and they ask the person to take a blood test, they won't be taking "no" for an answer - they'll get an immediate search warrant.

Here is the official press release from Tyler Police about the "No Refusal" weekend.

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FROM TYLER PD:

DWI No Refusal Enforcement set for New Years Holiday
The Tyler Police Department along with Smith County Law Enforcement agencies will be out in force during the New Year Holiday on the lookout for drunken drivers and they won't be taking "NO" for an answer. Starting Thursday, December 30, 2010 through Sunday January 2, 2010, a multi-joint effort between the Smith County District Attorney's Office and police agencies from all over Smith County will participate in the 'No-Refusal' DWI Campaign once again. Upon the arrest of a suspected drunk driver, he or she will be asked if they would submit to blow into a breath-test machine or take a blood test. If the driver refuses and says "No" officers will obtain an immediate search warrant signed by a judge on call to have blood drawn by a nurse on staff at the Smith County Jail. The blood is then analyzed to determine whether the driver's blood-alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher, the legal limit for driving in Texas.

This program has proven to be an effective tool to combat drunken drivers. It is the intent of all Law Enforcement agencies that this effort will act as a deterrent, persuading people to avoid driving while intoxicated because they know that police officers will be conducting sobriety testing with or without driver's consent.

Please Don't Drink and Drive!

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