Law Office of Tim Powers
Texas leads U.S. in DWI deaths; groups want sobriety checkpoints
FORT WORTH — Advocacy groups calling for sobriety checkpoints in
Texas want the state to crack down harder on drunken drivers, but no bills
that would legalize the long-outlawed practice have been filed on the
eve of the legislative session following years of unsuccessful attempts,
a newspaper reported Sunday.
Texas leads the nation in drunken-driving deaths.
Of the more than 10,000 people killed in alcohol-related crashes nationwide
in 2010, statistics show that nearly 12 percent were in the Lone Star State.
Sobriety checkpoints are allowed in 38 states but have been outlawed in
Texas for nearly two decades.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that even as groups like Mothers
Against Drunk Driving continue to call on Texas to join the list, the
group acknowledges that momentum isn't on its side.
Checkpoints are generally conducted by stopping vehicles based on some
numeric value, such as every third vehicle.
Proposals for checkpoints have been made in nearly every legislative session
in Texas since 1994, when the state Court of Criminal Appeals ruled the
practice unconstitutional unless a statewide governmental entity establishes
"The Legislature knows as soon as they provide guidelines, somebody
is going to start running" checkpoints, said Bill Lewis, the public
policy director for the Texas chapter of MADD. "The Legislature so
far has not wanted us to run sobriety checkpoints."
Among the opponents to previously filed checkpoint bills are civil rights groups.
"I think this is just cheap political maneuvering that's going
on," said Jim Harrington, director of the Austin-based Texas Civil
Rights Project. "No. 1, checkpoints are not necessary, and No. 2,
they would expand police power enormously. Every time you do that, they
have more discretion and they can use it in discriminatory ways."
MADD officials say the average drunken driver has been intoxicated at least
80 times before he or she is arrested once.
Earlier this month the state House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee took
up sobriety checkpoints while reviewing an interim charge to study DWI laws.
Other suggestions at the hearing including additional "no refusal"
weekends, when breath tests and blood tests are sped up on suspected drunken
drivers. Mandatory ignition interlocks for first-time DWI offenders is
also a proposal that could go in front of lawmakers this year.
Republican state Rep. Bill Zedler, a member of the committee, said he supports
interlocks but has "some problems" with sobriety checkpoints.
"Anytime you start stopping people without justifiable cause …
I think that creates a problem," he said.
Zedler represent Arlington, which is among the communities expected to
again ask lawmakers to allow the checkpoints. Will Johnson, the city's
interim police chief, said 67 percent of fatal crashes in Arlington this
year were linked to drunken drivers.
"The number of intoxicated drivers on our roadways is unacceptable," he said.
This article was found at: http://www.reporternews.com/news/2012/dec/16/texas-leads-in-dwi-deaths/
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced
criminal defense attorney for your Denton County DWI case or arrest in
Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge
or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899.
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For
legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult