Local State Representative files bill for harsher punishment involving intoxicated driving

    (Source: File Photo)

    It's a something that's becoming all too common, lives being cut short by a drunk driver. That’s the case for one teen just this month in Edinburg.

    They are continuing tragedies that are unforeseen, drunk driving has ended the life of many in the Valley. Most recently taking the life of 19-year-old service member Cassie Perez.

    "I didn’t think that was going to be last time I saw her," said Natalia West, Cassie’s stepsister.

    One local state representative is taking a stand against drunk driving.

    "Representative Guillen has filed some legislation to increase punishment for intoxication manslaughter cases," said Paul Vazaldua with Hidalgo County EMS.

    Vazaldua says his responders are the first on scene to many of these incidents.

    “Most people believe that it’s something that happens on Friday nights or on Saturday nights. But these types of calls can happen anytime of the week and any time during the day,” said Vazaldua.

    According to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas ranks 46th in the state for intoxicated driving safety laws.

    House Bill 1086 would increase intoxication assault in Texas from a third to a second-degree felony, punishable with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

    In the case of assaults on law enforcement and medical professionals, the punishment would increase to a first-degree felony, punishable up to life in prison.

    An offense where a driver causes serious bodily injury to another, in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a vegetative state, will be increased from a second degree to a first-degree felony.

    Incidents that have happened in the Valley include a drunk driver killed an Hidalgo County Dispatcher in Deccember of 2018. One week later, a separate drunk driver killed an Hidalgo County medic and a patient.

    Vazaldua says he's in support of the bill in order to continue to keep our people alive.

    "We just hope that drivers become a little bit more careful, a little but more responsible, so we don’t have to respond for those types of calls," said Vazaldua.

    The bill was introduced last month. If passed, it would take effect September 1.

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