A third new DWI bill proposed by Representative Guillen deals with the DWI surcharge for those convicted of DWI, but completed the DWI/Drug Court program. I have spoken about the DWI/Drug Court program in the past. In Collin County, the only DWI /Drug Court is in Judge Ray Wheless’ County Court #4.
This bill would allow the surcharge to be reduced by up to 80%. Right now, anyone convicted of DWI 1st must pay 3,000 to the state over three years. If you are convicted of DWI 2nd, it is 4,500 over 3 years, and if you blow over .16, it is $6,000 over three years.
I think this bill is a great idea, because it gives some incentives for someone to really turn their lives around. The Drug court is usually reserved for those on DWI 2nd, so it is an important time in those offenders’ lives.
I do see some problems with this bill, though. It only rewards those "sucessfully completing" the program. Instead, it should reward those entering the program. It is possible to be in the DWI court for 2 years or longer. By then, this bill wouldn’t be of much help.
Below is the entire test of the bill:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to the amount of a surcharge assessed on conviction of certain intoxicated driver offenses on the driver’s license of certain persons who complete a drug court program.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Chapter 469, Health and Safety Code, is amended by adding Section 469.010 to read as follows:
Sec. 469.010. REDUCTION IN AMOUNT OF ANNUAL SURCHARGE ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF DRUG COURT PROGRAM. (a) A judge or magistrate administering a drug court program under this chapter may order the Department of Public Safety to reduce the amount of the annual surcharge assessed under Section 708.102, Transportation Code, on the license of a person finally convicted of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated to an amount that may not be less than 20 percent of the amount specified by that section, if the judge or magistrate enters a written finding in the papers in the case indicating that the person:
(1) successfully completed a drug court program under this chapter; and
(2) has not been arrested for an offense under Section 49.04, 49.045, 49.05, 49.06, 49.065, 49.07, or 49.08, Penal Code, during the 180 days after the date of the program completion.
(b) On a timely request by the defendant, the judge or magistrate shall enter the written findings under Subsection (a) and promptly send a copy of those findings to the Department of Public Safety accompanied by the court’s order to reduce the amount of the annual surcharge assessed under Section 708.102, Transportation Code. On receipt of a copy of the written findings under this subsection, the Department of Public Safety shall reduce the amount of the surcharge assessed to the amount specified in the court’s order.
SECTION 2. The change in law made by this Act applies to a person who, on or after the effective date of this Act, enters a drug court program under Chapter 469, Health and Safety Code, regardless of whether the person committed the offense for which the person enters the program before, on, or after the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.