Will Texas Lawmakers Seek Mandatory Interlocks after Child’s Death?

If you or someone you know has been convicted of DWI, you may be familiar with an ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device is simply a mechanism that is usually fitted within the dashboard of a person’s car, which requires the owner of the vehicle to provide a breath sample in order to start the car. If the person’s breath sample is above the set alcohol limit, the car’s engine will not start. Once the car is running, the device will randomly prompt the driver for additional breath samples. This feature is to make sure that the driver of the car is indeed the person who gave the initial breath sample. Otherwise, a sober friend could start the car for an intoxicated driver. If the driver of the car does not pass the second or subsequent breath tests while the car is running, the device will log the event and set off an alarm until a clean sample is given or the driver turns off the car.

In Texas, ignition interlock devices are not mandatory for first time drunk driving offenders. Judges, however, do have the ability to order that an offender have a device installed in his or her vehicle. Texas is not the only state that has this policy. Only 21 states have laws that require interlock devices for first time offenders. However, there are people hoping that Texas lawmakers take up the issue after the January death of an 8-year old boy.

Six years ago, a 2-year old boy was involved in a serious car crash after his mother’s sedan was rear-ended by the truck of a drunk driver. As a result of the crash, the boy lost 80% of his brain, which left him in a vegetative state. The driver, Stewart Richardson, had a blood alcohol limit that was almost three times the legal limit. The most horrific part of the story is that this was not Richardson’s first DUI/DWI conviction. Richardson had amassed seven previous drunk driving convictions in at least four states. In one of the cases, Richardson was the cause of a crash that injured five people.

After the accident, the young boy needed constant care. He lived daily strapped to a chair was on oxygen. He suffered from frequent bouts of pneumonia, including at the time of his death. The boy died this January, six years after the accident.

The family fought for tougher drunk driving laws and succeeded in passing what is known as the “Abdallah Kader’s Act.” The law named after their son which passed in 2011, increased the penalties from 10 years to 20 years for intoxication assault cases where the victim is left in a vegetative state. The law also increased the maximum penalty from 6 months to 1 year for DWI cases where the driver has a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher.

At this time, it is uncertain as to whether lawmakers will revisit the issue of mandatory interlock devices for first time drunk driving offenders.

If you have been charged with drunk driving, your first step should be to meet with an experienced Dallas County DUI/DWI Defense Attorney. Only a seasoned DUI/DWI Defense Attorney can explain your rights and review your case to determine what defenses you may have to the charges against you. As a former prosecutor, Jack Pettit has what it takes to fight a charge DUI/DWI and win. To see how Mr. Pettit can help you, call our office today at (214) 521-4567 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation. Our office provides services to clients in both English and Spanish. Major credit cards are accepted as well.

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