Permanent DWI Checkpoints Coming to Texas?

Our car accident lawyers support legislation and other efforts aimed at reducing the number of driving while intoxicated accidents. In Texas, a deputy police chief is putting pressure on legislators to set up permanent DWI checkpoints in the state.

Texas has the highest number of crashes involving drunken drivers. The statistics are shocking. National Highway Traffic Safety Association data shows that in 2010, about 1,259 people were killed in Texas road accidents involving drunken drivers with a blood-alcohol level higher than the permitted 0.08 limit. Over the past two years, about two dozen people were charged with intoxication manslaughter in alcohol-related wrecks. This year, San Antonio alone saw more than 7000 DUI (driving under influence) arrests.

The Texas police official called for action to stop drivers for routine sobriety tests in spots where drinking-and-driving is prevalent. This is very significant as Texas is one of 12 states without sobriety checkpoints.

Other measures put forward to check drunken driving include increasing funds for “no refusal” weekends. The No Refusal DWI is an enforcement strategy that allows mandatory blood draws from DWI suspects if they refuse a breath test. Last year, the Texas Department of Transportation awarded a grant of $1.4 million Bexar County in San Antonio to expand the “no refusal” weekends to every day of the year. This measure is expected to provide evidence that will make it more difficult for arrested drivers to fight a DWI charge in court.

The Texas state legislature passed the Abdallah’s Laws last year, enforcing tougher penalties for drunk drivers responsible for crashes causing serious injuries. This act is named after Abdallah Khader, a 2-year-old boy from Fort Worth who has been reduced to a vegetative state after he suffered serious injuries in a crash allegedly caused by a repeat DWI offender. Police tests showed that the driver had a blood alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit by more than three times.

Sobriety checkpoints and “no refusal” programs have always been controversial issues, even as the number of drunken driving accidents increases. Civil rights advocates oppose the checkpoints as an intrusion on privacy. An opponent of the Texas deputy police chief’s proposal said that sobriety checkpoints would allow the police to abuse their power and harass innocent drivers. Many don’t want the program on all days of the year, not even on holidays or weekends. They are against the idea of strapping a person down and forcibly taking blood from them for a Class B offense.

Supporters including organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) call for the vigorous enforcement of mandatory blood draws every day of the year. They believe that it is the only way to get drunken drivers off the roads.

Thirty-seven states have sobriety checkpoints in place. California has more cars, more drivers and more people, but a lower number of DWI-related deaths than Texas does.

Texas ought to take a leaf out of California’s book and go the way of the Golden State in terms of DWI and DUI checkpoints. The state is sparing no effort and money to set up more DUI checkpoints. The Benicia Police Department has announced that received a grant of $24,484.53 for the period December 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013 from the California Office of Traffic Safety to check impaired driving with more DUI checkpoints.

It is reported that alcohol-related crashes fell by an average of 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted regularly, and that California’s DUI checkpoints are largely responsible for the considerable reduction in DUI deaths in the state from 2006 to 2010.

California law also seeks to minimize the invasion on individual privacy while protecting its roads from intoxicated drivers. The California Supreme Court has enforced strict policies and guidelines that police should follow in the operation of sobriety checkpoints.

Driving while intoxicated accidents happen every day around the nation. If you or a loved one was injured in crash involving a drunk driver, our Chicago auto accident attorneys can help you get the compensation that you deserve.

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