Proposed bill to give first time DWI drivers a second chance

By Samantha Jordan - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV)-  It's a bill that could possibly change the fate for many DWI  first time offenders and one of its biggest supporters may shock you. One drunk driving victim says this bill may be exactly what Texas needs.

"You never know what's going to happen,  you may be abiding by the rules but everyone else isn't," said Patti Foster, drunk driving victim

In 2002, Patti Foster and her friends became victims of a drunk driver.

"Bam! That's where impact happened a semi pulling a trailer full of cars rear ended us going 70 miles per hour full speed and from there my life changed," said Patti.

Patti says the driver of the 18-wheeler was under the influence of five different drugs and was talking on his cell phone. The wreck threw her from the vehicle and she ended up in a coma for six weeks.

One of her friends was killed. Now, eight years later, Patti says she supports a proposed bill to give first time DWI drivers a second chance.

"The first time have some mercy so that they can learn from the mistakes but then the choice has to be made to change to pay attention to do what needs to be done to keep life and other people and not to take it from them," said Patti.

Under the proposed bill, first time offenders would be eligible for deferred adjudication. If they do not commit another offense for a certain time, the DWI conviction would disappear from their record. However, if they do commit another offense, their punishment could be more severe.

Along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, prosecutors and defense attorneys are backing the proposal, saying it will help get rid of backlogs in the court.

"There are a 122,000 DWI  misdemeanor cases sitting in the court system right now and I think that's one of the reasons this legislation is being proposed," said Leslie Watson, MADD.

In Patti's case, the driver who hit her vehicle was a repeat offender she says was given one too many second chances.  However she says she will not let him change her mind on this issue.

"We all make mistakes and I choose to forgive him and pray for him that god will have mercy and that he'll change his ways," said Patti.

Texas is the leading state in DWI fatalities. In 2009,  1235  people where killed because of a drunk drivers.

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