Remember the Fallen Heroes

header photo

Dedicated to the memory of Grapevine Police Officer Darren Medlin

EOW June 12, 2004

Bill stiffens penalties for drunken drivers who kill first responders


Wednesday, July 18, 2007 By CHRISTY HOPPE / The Dallas Morning News


AUSTIN - As the widows of two Dallas-area police officers looked on, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill Tuesday that could place drunken drivers who kill first responders in prison for the rest of their lives. Gina Medlin, the wife of Grapevine officer Darren Medlin, said the bill, named in part for her late husband, gives meaning to his work as a DWI enforcement officer.

"I promised Darren, the morning that we buried Darren, that drunk drivers ... are going to pay for what they've done. And I will be his voice, and this bill helps me to continue that," Ms. Medlin said.

Officer Medlin was killed in June 2004 when he was struck outside his patrol car by a drunken driver. Roy Alvin Adams is serving 12 years for the homicide.

Also present at the bill signing was Karen Freeto, whose husband, Fort Worth officer Dwayne Freeto, was killed in December as he stopped his patrol car to help a woman change a flat tire. A car driven by Samuel Lee Hilburn, 21, slammed into Officer Freeto's car, engulfing it in flames and killing the officer. Mr. Hilburn, whose blood alcohol reportedly was more than twice the legal limit, is awaiting trial.

[Note: On August 3, 2008 Hilburn was sentenced to 13 years in prison]

Rep. Paula Pierson, the Arlington Democrat who authored the new law, said those put in harm's way to protect citizens should know that their lives are valued. "This won't bring back these kids' fathers, but hopefully this will make people who have been drinking stop and think before they get behind the wheel," Ms. Pierson said.

The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, [2007] will enhance the penalties for drunken drivers who kill working police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel from the current 20 years to up to 99 years.

The penalty for intoxication assault involving emergency personnel also was increased from 10 years to 20. In all, nine law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by drunken drivers in Texas since 2002.