District Attorney Scott McKee joined with Representative Stuart Spitzer as he presented two bills to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. HB 1358 creates an offense if Penalty Group 1 drugs are used/manufactured in the presence of a child or if the child tests positive for the presence of drugs and HB 3743 increases the punishment for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated in which the actor causes bodily injury to another.
District Attorney McKee has lobbied to pass these two bills over the past two sessions. According to McKee, he believes both bills are good for Texas.
As it currently stands under Texas law, it is a third degree felony if a person by accident or mistake while operating an aircraft, watercraft, amusement ride or motor vehicle causes serious bodily injury to another by reason of their intoxication. A third degree felony is punishable by 2-10 years in TDC and up to a $10,000.00 fine.
Although this provision of the law allows prosecutors to seek justice for victims that suffer “serious” bodily injury, it does not include victims that suffer “bodily” injury. Under our Penal Code, bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. Serious bodily injury is defined in the Penal Code as injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
According to McKee, many injuries that a lay person and medical professional would deem as “serious” are not under the definition and controlling case law. McKee believes that drunk drivers that cause bodily injuries deserve stiffer penalties. “Many of these victims can’t work for months after these injuries.” Said McKee. “It’s time we close this loophole in the law.”
Spitzer and McKee also believe that there isn’t any reason a child should test positive for a controlled substance unless under the direct care of a licensed medical doctor. HB 1358 would provide a presumption that a child who tests positive for these types of substances has been the victim of abuse or neglect. Under the law now, only Methamphetamine is included in the law in providing the presumption. This bill would expand the law to include other controlled substances.
“I am grateful that our District Attorney is willing to help me promote legislation that will help in Henderson County and throughout the state.” stated Representative Spitzer, “These are common sense ideas that need support.”