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Texas Could Get Stricter DWI Laws & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas drunken driving laws could be toughened by the 2011 Legislature. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo testified in favor of sobriety checkpoints and mandatory blood tests during a hearing Thursday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Bill Lewis, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, urged legislators to approve ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders.

Committee Chairman John Whitmire of Houston says lawmakers should consider repealing the Driver Responsibility Program, whose surcharges include a fee of $1,000 annually for three years for first-time driving-while-intoxicated offenders.

The Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee will review the program.

Figures show Texas in 2009 had 1,269 deaths in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Judge in Fort Worth orders 15 years for Pierce

A former Arkansas football player serving time in Texas over a drug case has been sentenced to an additional 15 years after pleading guilty to a deadly drunken-driving crash.

State District Judge Louis Sturns on Thursday ordered 27-year-old Mark Charles Pierce to serve his latest term concurrently with an eight-year prison sentence he is now serving for a 2006 drug conviction.

Pierce told the court he suffered a head injury and doesn't remember much about the 2008 two-vehicle crash that killed Lance Shetler of Burleson. Pierce went to prison after a Parker County judge revoked his probation when he refused a blood test following the December 2008 accident.

The ex-Weatherford High School standout played fullback for Arkansas, before departing prior to his senior year.

Perry courts support from Texas Farm Bureau

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is promising to champion private property rights and push pro-agricultural policies as he seeks the endorsement of the Texas Farm Bureau.

Earlier this year the group threw its support to Perry's primary opponent, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. But now both Perry and his Democratic opponent Bill White are eager to get the group's nod for the November election.

Perry, a former rancher and state agriculture commissioner, portrayed himself as a longtime friend of rural Texas at the group's meeting Thursday in San Marcos.