Hit and Run Laws Changing in Texas

by olin on October 2, 2013

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Autumn is bringing more changes than just the color of the leaves. From September 1st, 2013, the hit and run laws in the state of Texas get much more serious on penalizing offenders. Senate Bill 275 passed through the Texas House of Representatives in the last session with a unanimous vote of 130-0, and it doubles the potential prison sentence length of a person convicted of hit and run.

We all know, objectively, that we are legally and morally bound to stop and render aid to all persons invovled in a traffic accident after it happens. However, after an accident, emotions are high, and people get scared or angry and end up making the decision to drive away. However, this change in hit and run laws hopes to act as a more serious deterrent towards this behavior.

Previously, an individual convicted of hit and run that involved a death or injury faced a $10,000 fine and a minimum prison sentence of two years, the upper limit of the prison sentence being 10 years. However, after September 1st, that upper limit is now capped at 20 years instead of 10 (the $10,000 fine stays the same).

It is no coincidence that this new law looks quite comparable to the penalties associated with a charge of intoxicated manslaughter. In recent years, there has been a great increase of hit and run drivers and accidents with serious consequences on Texas roads, and this law is likely a response to such a pattern. Many hit and run offenders are intoxicated at the time. Because the hit and run penalty was lower than the driving under the influence penalty previous to the passing of this law, drunk drivers would opt to drive off in hopes of sobering up before being charged. This is beneficial neither to the offending driver, the other parties involved, or law enforcement officials. Driving off after a hit and run is unsafe because the driver’s vehicle may be damaged, and because the driver is likely still intoxicated, it could lead to more accidents and more injuries.

This new law takes away at least one incentive of driving away from an accident if the driver is intoxicated and in fear of a DUI charge, since the penalty is now quite comparable. Before this law was passed, it was very difficult for intoxication to be proven as a factor in the accident, but now SB 275 hopes to dissuade the drunk driver from leaving the scene of the accident at all.

In light of this new law, it is more important now than ever to be properly represented by a reputable and caring criminal defense attorney. If you require legal representation involving a hit and run, contact the hit and run attorneys at Carroll Troberman Criminal Defense today.

Olivia Lin currently writes for Carroll Troberman Law, a criminal defense law firm based in Austin, TX.

Olivia Lin currently writes for Carroll Troberman Law, a Criminal Defense law firm based in Austin, TX.

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