The Texas legislature recently enacted the Lisa Torry Smith Act, which is named after a young Missouri City mother who was hit and killed by a car in 2017 while she was in a crosswalk in her Missouri City neighborhood. This Act empowers Texas prosecutors to bring criminal misdemeanor or felony charges against motorists who hit pedestrians that are crossing streets and roads in crosswalks. The Act’s criminal charges are in addition to any civil negligence damages that an injured pedestrian might recover from a negligent motorist.
This new Texas pedestrian safety law gives prosecutors a powerful tool to use against motorists that strike pedestrians in designated crosswalks.
What Criminal Penalties Might A Driver Face Under The New Pedestrian Safety Law?
Per the text of the Lisa Torry Smith Act, a driver who, with criminal negligence, strikes a person in or near a crosswalk can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or, if the pedestrian is seriously injured or killed, the driver can be charged with a state jail felony. Both misdemeanor and felony charges can lead to fines of several thousands of dollars and incarceration. Further, a prosecutor can bring charges under the Act as well as under any other Texas statute that a driver might have violated, including operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating substances.
Is the Lisa Torry Smith Act Limited to Pedestrians?
The Act protects pedestrians and other vulnerable road users within the area of a crosswalk, including bicycles, electric scooters, powered wheelchairs, and golf carts.
Is Criminal Liability Automatic if A Car Strikes A Pedestrian?
The Act is specific to pedestrians and other vulnerable persons who are in or near a crosswalk. It provides an affirmative defense to prosecution if the pedestrian was not following applicable laws, including, for example, walking in roadways or crossing streets in areas other than designated crosswalks.
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