This legislative session in the Texas Legislature saw a flurry of bills related to Driving While Intoxicated. Some of the proposals including creating a brand new crime for failing to install an ignition interlock device when ordered by the court, mandatory ignition interlock devices for those convicted of even a first driving while intoxicated offense, and deferred adjudication for Driving While Intoxicated.
In spite of the apparent focus on passing new legislation, none of the proposals had enough support to become law except one. HB 1199 passed both houses of the Texas Legislature and was sent to the Governor. This new law, known as the Abdallah Khader Act changes the law in two ways.
First, the law elevates Driving While Intoxicated from a Class B misdemeanor offense to a Class A misdemeanor offense for those having an alcohol concentration of .15 or more “at the time the analysis was performed.” In addition to raising the punishment range, I am concerned that depending upon how this new law is read and applied, it may effectively criminalize having an alcohol concentration of .15 or more “at the time the analysis was performed” regardless of what the person’s alcohol concentration was at the time of driving.
For example, let’s assume a person consumed a large quantity of alcohol within fifteen minutes to a half hour of driving. Let’s further assume that they are stopped by the police soon after driving. In that situation, it is very unlikely that the person could have been over a .08 at the time of operation, but could be over .15 by the time the alcohol is fully absorbed at the time the analysis is performed.
Second, the law elevates the punishment range from a Third Degree Felony to a Second Degree felony for an Intoxication Assault case where the victims filing car defect injury claim and suffering a brain injury that leaves them in a persistent vegetative state.