By JOHN MORITZ
AUSTIN Drunken drivers who injure or kill an on-duty public safety officer would face longer prison sentences under legislation by state Rep. Paula Pierson that was sent to the governors desk Wednesday. Pierson, a freshman Democrat, said her first bill is named for Darren Medlin, a Grapevine police officer killed in June 2004 when he was struck by a car during a traffic stop on Texas 121, and Dwayne Freeto, a Fort Worth patrol officer who died Dec. 17 while assisting a motorist with a flat tire on Interstate 35W. Both men were 34, military veterans and the fathers of young children. “We need to send a message that drinking and driving has tragic consequences, Pierson said. “There are too many police officers who put their lives at risk on busy thoroughfares all over this state, and they dont need to be subjected to further danger because of drunk drivers.
Piersons House Bill 1212 would take intoxication assault from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony if a police officer, firefighter or paramedic were injured. The prison sentence, now two to 10 years, would increase to two to 20 years. The maximum fine, $10,000, would not change.
Intoxication manslaughter involving a police officer or firefighter would go from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, which carries a prison sentence of five to 99 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.