Blood test now required for drivers who hit pedestrians in Texas

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 8:52 PM CDT
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) - A new Texas law that would require any driver who causes serious bodily injury or kills a pedestrian to have their blood screened for drugs or alcohol will go into effect September 1st.

John Palmer, who’s wife Katie, a Denison school teacher, was killed by a driver in April of last year, has been a fierce supporter of the bill. Even travelling down to Austin on two separate occasions to meet with every lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

“I don’t want to say that it feels like a sense of accomplishment because we still have a whole lot more to do,” Palmer said. “It’s validation, knowing what we were fighting for was just and right, because what happened last April was not right.”

John Palmer and his wife Katie were hit by a driver, Cory Foster, on a walk in their neighborhood on the morning of April 21, 2020.

Katie was killed and John broke his back.

Body cam footage from the scene shows troopers note the strong smell of alcohol on Foster’s breath but his blood was never tested.

“An overwhelming majority of the representatives I spoke to were shocked that this had happened, but even more shocked that this wasn’t already a law,” Palmer said.

Representative Reggie Smith was a co-author for House Bill 558, now law. He said he couldn’t be happier for the Palmer family.

“A lot of times something like this does not get passed the first time around,” Smith said. “Usually it takes a couple, maybe three sessions to get it done in my experience and this is just incredible.”

Smith said Texas “is a better place” because of the Palmer’s efforts in lobbying to get HB-558 to become law.

“I wanted to be able to look back on everything I did, that my family’s done and that our friends have done as well and again to know that we left nothing on the table,” Palmer said. “We gave everything that we could possibly give.”

Palmer said this law will “now hold people accountable.”

“This bill was common sense, it’ll be a good law and should have already been a law,” Palmer said. “If you have drugs or alcohol in your system and you are found to be legally intoxicated or impaired you will be held accountable.”

The criminal case against Corey Foster was brought before a grand jury twice where they declined to indict him both times.

The Palmers have a lawsuit pending against Foster in civil court.

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