June 27, 2013, Dallas, TX- Drunk driving is a problem nationwide, but in Texas over 40 percent of fatal traffic accidents in 2011 were caused by intoxicated drivers. In light of those statistics, the country’s leading anti-drunken driving advocacy group Mother Against Drunk Driving is putting pressure on lawmakers to toughen the states DUI laws.
MADD is pushing state legislators to pass two new bills which are focused on prevention. In an April press conference, Debbie Weir, chief executive officer of MADD said, “Texas is the worst state for the number of [alcohol-related] fatalities in the country. I’m proud to be a Texan, but this is something not to be proud about in Texas.”
One of the two bills endorsed by MADD would allow police to set up sobriety checkpoints throughout the state. A majority of states, 38, allow sobriety checkpoints, but they were outlawed in Texas 19 years ago when an appellate court deemed them unconstitutional because they violated a person’s rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The appellate court decided that police could only set up sobriety checkpoints
In the almost the two decades since roadblocks were outlawed, no guidelines have been developed which MADD believes is a mistake noting that 20 percent of fatal DUI accidents could be prevented if police were allowed to set up roadblocks.
Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project believes roadblocks should not be allowed stating, “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.”
The second bill introduced by MADD would require that first-time DUI offenders have ignition interlock devices, which prevent a vehicle from starting if a driver has been drinking, installed in their vehicles. This is the same recommendation made by the National Safety Board which encouraged all states to make this a requirement. Currently on 17 states have laws that force first offenders to install these devices.
Studies have shown that 50 percent of first-time DUI offenders are likely to drive drunk again. Some lawmakers and MADD believe ignition interlock devices are the best way to prevent repeat DUI offenses, but it won’t stop drunken drivers once they are removed which is typically six months to a year following a conviction.
The requirement to install interlock devices will likely ruffle a lot of feathers. Not only are they a major inconvenience often requiring the driver to blow into them periodically while they are driving, but these devices can be costly because they require monthly calibration which can cost anywhere from $60 to $100 a month on top of the other expenses convicted DUI drivers face.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Dallas you will need tenacious and thorough legal representation. DUI attorney John Corn’s primary goal is making certain you won’t face conviction. He will explore every avenue to build rock solid defense on your behalf.