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State lawmakers to examine possibility of increasing punishment for hit-and-runs

The Texas Major City Chiefs Police Association and the Texas Police Chiefs Association, two highly influential law enforcement organizations here in the Lone Star State, recently published a joint list of seven issues that they want to see addressed during this legislative session. One of these items has to do with the state's failure to stop and render aid laws, or hit-and-run laws as they are otherwise known.

Specifically, the groups want to see the state's FSRA laws amended such that the punishment for leaving the scene of an accident that results in a fatality is increased from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. This would mean that offenders would no longer face a maximum prison sentence of ten years, but rather a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Such a move, they argue would put leaving the scene of a fatal accident on equal footing with intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. In other words, it fixes a legal loophole in state law, whereby a drunk driver who causes a fatal car accident would actually face a lesser offense by leaving the scene.

It appears that these law enforcement advocacy groups may soon get their wish, as there are currently three separate bills pending in the state legislature designed to amend Texas' hit-and-run laws.

Identical bills, each with bipartisan support, have been filed in the House and Senate, while a third bill has been filed in the House that would also elevate hit-and-run accidents causing serious injuries to a second-degree felony.

The move toward increased penalties under FSRA laws has gained widespread support not just among law enforcement, but among those who have lost loved ones in these fatal accidents.

"A lot of people in our community are going through the same thing right now," said a man whose daughter in a hit-and-run accident back in May 2011. "Now more than ever, I am behind this legislation."

It should be interesting to see if these bills gain traction during the legislative session ...

Stay tuned for more from our San Antonio criminal defense blog ...

A DUI arrest leaves you with a criminal record that could affect your job prospects, ability to obtain loans or future opportunities. You may also face serious fines, the loss of your driver's license and jail time.

If you have been charged with drunk driving, be certain to contact an experienced legal professional.

Source:

The Austin American-Statesman, "Support growing for tougher hit-and-run laws," Ciara O'Rourke and Jazmine Ulloa, Feb. 28, 2013

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