Texas prosecutor suggests reducing DWI fatalities with sobriety checkpoints

A recent topic of debate in Texas has been whether or not police should be allowed to operate random checkpoints on highways to discourage drunken driving, according to a DWI prosecutor.

38 states currently allow law enforcement officials to set up these sobriety checkpoints, but Texas is not yet one of them, said W. Clay Abbott, DWI resource prosecutor with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.

He added that if Texas was added to that list, however, it would probably see a drop in the number of people killed in crashes involving drunken driving. Texas had the highest number of DWI fatalities in 2010.

Abbott said, “When you look at the statistics, we see a drop in fatalities everywhere they do checkpoints.”

California, for example, where people travel more highway miles than in Texas, saw 791 DWI-related deaths I 2010. >Texas sreported 1,213 DWI-related deaths that same year. California, unlike Texas, allows law enforcement to set up sobriety checkpoints.

Recently, it was reported that of over 10,000 DWI-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2010, almost 12 percent occurred in Texas.

A common argument of the checkpoint system is reported to be that it invades on residents’ civil liberties.

Abbott said, however, that that is simply not the case, noting that in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990), setting up sobriety checkpoints was not ruled unconstitutional. It was, instead, left up to individual states to decide whether they wanted to use checkpoints.

The chief vehicle crimes prosecutor for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Warren Diepraam agreed with Abbot, saying that the argument calling the checkpoints unconstitutional is “a scarce tactic.”

Diepraam also said that checkpoints are nothing new in Texas; the state already has some set up to check drivers for licenses and immigration status.

He said, “There are plenty of other checkpoints in Texas on most of our major roadways to the border.”

If you find yourself in trouble with a DWI even without these checkpoints, contact an experienced DWI Texas attorney. These checkpoints will make the roads safer but will be trouble for drunken drivers, so get a good lawyer while you can. Contact the David Hunter Law Firm today.



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