Proposed bill increases sentences for DWIs involving children or injuries

It was back in 2012 when 23-year-old Nicole Baukus drove drunk the wrong way on I-45 in the Woodlands, killing two people and injuring another.  Her sentence was 38 years in prison.

Montgomery County Special Crimes Bureau Chief Tyler Dunman says that's the perfect example of how the punishment was not tough enough for the crime.

That's why the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office is backing a newly proposed state bill in the legislature that would increase the time behind bars for drunk drivers who kill.

Tyler says, "If they have a prior DWI conviction and they commit intoxication manslaughter and kill someone, it would change it from a second degree to a first degree and they would face up to life in prison."

The driver would face tougher punishment under the new law if more than one person is injured or killed, if there is a child involved and injured, if they fail to render aid, and other factors.

Margaret Smith's daughter was killed by a drunk driver in Montgomery County and she agrees with the new proposed law.

But DWI defense attorney Jamika Wester says the law goes too far for those who are charged with intoxication manslaughter.  She says the current range of punishment is adequate for those who are charged with the crime.

Wester says, "we already criminalize clients way before they're proven guilty of anything so I think this is going to be an added hurdle for criminal defense attorneys."

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