Texas DWI Bill News

Lawmaker, District Attorney Back Tough Texas DWI Bill
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Feb 28, 2007 04:49 PM CST

On Wednesday in Ohio 51-year-old Jess Brown received the maximum sentence of 16-and-a-half years behind bars after 20 driving-while-intoxicated convictions.

That's the worst drunken driving record in Ohio history, but everything is bigger in Texas.

One Texan has had more DWI convictions than that - 23 to be exact!

That's one of the reasons a local lawmaker and district attorney are working on a tougher state law to keep habitual drunken drivers off the roads.

A proposal would make it mandatory for people with three or more DWI arrests to provide a blood sample or breath test. Under state law, drivers can refuse to take a blood-alcohol test.

Carlton Mathis, who has been convicted twice for DWI, refused to provide a breath or blood sample, and this month a jury found him not guilty.

"It was obvious he was in the car," said John Bradley, Williamson County District attorney. "It was obvious he was driving. It was obvious he had a criminal history that made him a felon, but the jury did not have sufficient evidence to decide intoxication, because this man refused to provide a breath or blood sample."

That is why Bradley is behind a DWI bill to keep drunken drivers off Texas roads.

"If someone commited a rape, would we let them hide the physical evidence that we use for DNA? No. So, why are we letting repeat drunk drivers hide this evidence," said Bradley.

A similar bill was filed in the last session that would require anyone pulled over for a DWI to take a blood-alcohol test. This revised bill just focuses on repeat offenders.

"When you have somebody on a third occasion out on our roadways, intoxicated, putting lives at risk, I think it rises to some level of scrutiny to look at what they're doing," said Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Williamson County.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the group would also support this bill.

The Williamson County District Attorney's Office reported more than 130 disposed felony DWI cases last year. Of those, 67 percent refused to take a blood-alcohol test.