Even though the Texas Department of Public Safety, in its 'threat report' issued earlier this year, listed drunk driving as a bigger threat to the lives of Texans than terrorism, drug trafficking, or international criminal gangs, the Legislature will adjourn next week after again doing nothing to solve the state's horrible drunk driving problem, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Fort he fifth straight session, a measure to allow police to set up 'sobriety checkpoints' along public highways to randomly test motorists to see if they're drunk failed to get out of committee, much to the disappointment of Jennifer Northway, President of the San Antonio Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"Unfortunately this session, Texas did not pass the two most effective counter measures that we have seen," Northway told 1200 WOAI news.
The other proposal, to mandate that anybody with a dunk driving conviction on their record install, at their own expense, a so called 'ignition interlock' device on any car which they regularly drive. The devices will not allow the car to be started until the driver blows into a tube to demonstrate that they are sober.
Texas leads the nation in second and subsequent offense drunk driving arrests, and drunk driving in San Antonio continues to contribute to half of the highway accidents, as well as incidents like people driving the wrong way down the expressway.
"We know those to be the most effective, and our goal is to push forward to make these things happen in the next session,' Northway said.
Texas is one of just 12 states which do not have laws allowing police to set up sobriety checkpoints. The law facing the Legislature this session was dramatically watered down. It would have, for example, required police to announce in advance the location of a checkpoint, would drastically limit the amount of time a motorist could be forced to wait at a checkpoint, and would prohibit police from using checkpoints to enforce any laws other than drunk driving, or so-called 'plain sight violations.' If somebody is stupid enough to drive up to a police checkpoint while smoking crack, the person could be arrested for that offense.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Michigan vs. Seitz, ruled in 1990 that checkpoints are not a violation of a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights.
"It is quite frustrating that we have gone before the Legislature repeatedly, and we have not been able to pass these two lifesaving measures," Northway said.