New Texas DWI law change could give 'second chance' to first offenders

Updated: Jun. 19, 2017 at 6:30 PM CDT
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H.B. 3016 (Source: KLTV)
H.B. 3016 (Source: KLTV)
Jack Matthews and Family (Source: KLTV)
Jack Matthews and Family (Source: KLTV)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Those with DWI convictions now have a new option in the state of Texas.

Last week, governor Abbott signed a bill into law that would allow first time DWI offenders to apply for a  "non-disclosure" which would place restrictions on who can see your criminal record, like employers, if you get an "ignition interlock" on your vehicle.

Some say while the law is a positive step, they think more can be done to stop drunk drivers.

Jack Matthews says he's concerned about drunk drivers and the safety of his family when it comes to those who get DWIs.

"I think we can…I think as a society we can do much better," says Matthews.

With that said, HB 3016 signed by Governor Abbott is aiming to take steps towards Mathews' plea.

"And change the perception of, 'I've just had one, I'm okay to go,'" says Matthews.

The law would give incentive for an ignition interlock device which wouldn't start a car unless the driver passed a pre-programmed level. Attorney Randy Roberts says it's a positive step, but more could be done.

"My biggest concern about the legislation is that it doesn't go far enough," says Roberts.

The law allows a first-time offender to apply for a non-disclosure, two years after their probation is over if they have an ignition interlock on for 6 months during that time period.

"For the first-time offender it's a wonderful option. Their choices are either a DWI conviction, or going to trial on a DWI charge, or having this device installed and at the end of six months having it off your record. It's a no-brainer for the defendant," says Roberts.

If those convicted of a DWI don't have a device installed, they have to wait five years after probation to apply for a non-disclosure. It's a non-disclosure that wasn't offered under the existing DWI law and a second chance with the hope that fewer people will make the choice to drink and drive.

"Society's goal shouldn't be to punish the drunk driver, it should be to stop drunk driving, and the ignition interlock system stops drunk driving," says Roberts.

The law is retroactive, and as long as the conditions are met, will apply for an offense committed before, on, or after September 1. The law also only applies for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .14.

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