Will Deferred Adjudication be an option for DWI cases in Dallas and Collin Counties by Bo Kalabus

In Austin a new legislative proposal would allow first-time drunken drivers in Texas to be acquitted if they complete supervision and treatment, a move supporters say would reduce court backlogs and shift the judicial system’s focus to punishing repeat DWI offenders.

Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, filed the proposal that would allow for deferred adjudication for first-time DWI offenders. Repetition of the offense would become grounds to increase future punishments.

The bill, which supporters include Mothers Against Drunk Driving would be a change from the state’s stance that all drunken drivers should face fines, classes, fees, probation and/or jail. In the mid-1980s, deferred adjudication for such offenses was abolished in the state. Opponents at the time, including MADD, had argued that the form of probation was being accepted for repeat offenders.

Supporters say that by routing cases out of courtrooms, the plan could ease court backlogs. Also, they say, it could improve efforts to track and punish repeat DWI offenders and remove the threat of jail that makes some first-timers refuse guilty pleas.

While the proposal has been in front of the State Legislature before, time will tell if it has gathered enough support to become law.

 

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