WAXAHACHIE – An Ellis County man who was paroled while serving a life sentence for driving while intoxicated was convicted Thursday for doing it again.
Blas Hernandez Jr., 52, served 11 years on a life sentence levied against him in 1997 for having three or more DWI convictions.
Then on Nov. 1, 2011, Hernandez Jr. was pulled over in the 700 block of Main Street when officers saw him driving a vehicle with “heavy front end damage.” Because of a 2009 Texas law, officers must take a blood sample of anyone suspected of driving while intoxicated who has two or more convictions.
Officers took his blood and tested it. Ellis County District Attorney spokeswoman Ann Montgomery-Moran said it was two and a half times the legal limit of .08.
On Thursday, an Ellis County jury took less than half an hour to convict Hernandez on his fourth DWI charge. During the punishment phase of the trial, the jury heard Hernandez “had a history of assault on police officers,” Montgomery-Moran wrote.
Montgomery-Moran said Hernandez was convicted in 1992 twice for DWI and again in 1996. He also was convicted for two felony assaults on a public servant. In 1997, he was being tried for his third DWI, she said.
The multiple DWI convictions cemented his punishment –– Hernandez received another life sentence, to be stacked and served consecutively atop the first.
The fact that Hernandez was paroled while serving a life sentence for multiple DWI convictions spurred the district attorney to issue a fiery statement promising to address the issue with elected officials.
“I have no answer for citizens who rightfully ask, ‘Why was Hernandez even on the streets again after being sentenced to life in prison?,’” Ellis County DA Patrick Wilson wrote. “Something has to be done to prevent this situation from happening again.”
Wilson goes on to lament the “tremendous waste of resources” this reoccurrence triggered as well as the “threat to the safety of the general public.”
“Everyone wants to talk about being tough on DWI. This office has shown that we are tough on DWI. Ellis County citizens have shown that they are tough on DWI,” Patrick’s statement says. “So why isn’t the Parole Board tough on DWI?”
"We can't help but shrug our shoulders and think, 'What's the point of it all?,'" he said.
In a statement to News 8, the Parole Board writes:
"…the Board often will impose special conditions such as treatment programs or, as in this case, an inter-lock device on his automobile in order to prevent the person from driving while intoxicated."
Wilson isn't convinced.
"It makes all the policymakers words ring hollow, who like to champion getting tough on DWI,” he said.
The Parole Board says it considered Hernandez four times before releasing him.
They also say using special conditions enables the Board to release more offenders while the rate of offenders returning to prison continues to drop.