House bill proposes stricter DWI law | News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Some lawmakers are working to make it easier to further prosecute a person who who injures someone else in a DWI wreck.
Right now, first time offenders charged with simple DWI, who injure someone in a wreck, can serve up to a year of jail time at the discretion of a judge. Prosecutors are also able to use 1st or 2nd Degree Battery charges depending on the severity of the injuries and evidence at the scene.
House Bill 1250's purpose is to make it easier to prosecute a DWI offender under the 2nd Degree Battery charge. Rep. David Whitaker explained the bill includes a specific DWI provision that makes it more applicable to these cases, rather than being seen as a general battery charge. In short, if the bill passes, authors say it would enhance penalties for those who hurt people in a DWI wreck since it would be easier to charge and prosecute them with 2nd Degree Battery in addition to DWI.
Pamela Ware leaves the Capitol hoping her words carried enough weight to help lawmakers see how DWI can impact a family.
"Trevor's future is uncertain and we're just really hoping for a good outcome for him," says Ware.
The life of her son changed forever last September when Nathan Ray allegedly slammed into Ware's motorcycle on I-40.
"His memory gaps are still pretty severe. He remembers the distant past much more than the current," says Ware.
Just months before the wreck, prosecutors charged Ray with DWI in North Little Rock. It's just one reason Ware supports House Bill 1250.
The Bill's sponsor, David Whitaker says right now offenders are typically charged with simple DWI and in rare cases 1st or 2nd Degree Battery.
"Numerous cases where the facts simply don't support that so you end up with this large gap in the law where they can either be charged with simple DWI or nothing," says Whitaker, a Democrat from Fayetteville.
House Bill 1250 would specifically include DWI in the second degree battery charge and according to Whitaker give the legal system more to work with. A second portion of the bill would automatically require offenders to serve 30 days in jail, but some lawmakers took issue with this part.
"We're taking away the judges' discretion and in effect you can do what you're trying to do right now with regard to the sentence enhancement already," says Representative Darrin Williams of Little Rock.
Pamela Ware now waits to see what will happen with House Bill 1250 and her son's case.
"We take it day to day and look for every small sign of improvement and be grateful for that," says Ware.
Whitaker took the Bill off the table today for Amendments but will bring it back before the Judiciary Committee Thursday. As for Trevor Ware's case, a pre-trial hearing will happen in March and the trial is expected to start in April.