From the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27
For Immediate Release
Friday, August 27, 1999
Contact: Doris Sanchez
Sen. Lucio announces new DWI law to go into effect
AUSTIN, Texas--State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville wants Texans to be aware of a new law affecting motorists that becomes effective September 1, 1999.
"It is important to be informed of new and changed laws, and the change in the permissible alcohol content for drivers will now drop from .10 to .08," said Sen. Lucio. "I co-authored Senate Bill 114 on the premise that if it could mean saving one life, then the bill would be worth it. This legislation attempts to reduce drinking and driving accidents in Texas.
"I filed other legislation that would have made DWI-related laws tougher and more comprehensive this past legislative session, but while the Senate approved my legislation, the House did not," explained Sen. Lucio. "For example, one of my proposals was to make breath test samples mandatory when a person is detained for possible DWI, and failure to provide a breath sample would have been a Class B Misdemeanor. With a lower BAC level, we will probably see more breath test refusals, creating a problem for prosecutors who must prove DWI cases without this strong type of evidence."
Sen. Lucio had also proposed increasing the charge of Intoxication Manslaughter, from a second degree felony, punishable up to 20 years, to a first degree felony, punishable up to 99 years. His goals were to address all aspects of DWI, especially the problem drinker and to deal with the issue in a fair and more extensive manner.
Under SB 114, a 170-pound man would have to consume more than four drinks within one hour on an empty stomach to reach a .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), and a 137- pound woman would need three drinks on an empty stomach to reach that level.
Sen. Lucio says that responsible drivers who choose safe options when they drink, ie., calling cabs or designating someone who is not drinking to drive, should not have any problems observing this law because in all likelihood they already are. Problem drinkers and others who dismiss their conditions and drive under the influence are now subject to receiving a DWI charge more readily under our new Texas law.
The penalties for DWI did not change. For a first DWI, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor, a person can incur a $2,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail and for a second DWI, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, the penalty can include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
"I know every Texas driver by now understands that drinking and driving is dangerous, but sometimes even cautious drivers will get behind the wheel thinking they're not impaired and can make it home safely," added Sen. Lucio. "Under this law, there is little or no room for taking a chance, either with our own or someone else's life, and this new law should compel us to be even more responsible drivers than ever before."