Even though DWI sobriety checkpoints are still not legal in Texas, calls continue to be made for them to be implemented. Bills to establish checkpoints have been brought up in every session of the Texas Legislature since 1995 and voted down every time. Texas is one of 12 states to outlaw checkpoints, citing a belief that they violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution regarding unreasonable search and seizure. As we approach New Year’s Eve – perhaps the most dangerous nights for drunk drivers to be on the road – the Lewisville lawyers with the Durham Law Firm want to share information regarding efforts to bring checkpoints to Texas.
A Heated Debate
Lawmakers, lobbyists and several other parties in Texas have fought for DWI sobriety checkpoints for more than 20 years. They believe that the number of drunk driving fatalities – which was more than 1,200 in Texas in 2010 – could be significantly reduced if checkpoints were made into law. A Dec. 15, 2012 Fort Worth Star-Telegram article quoted a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving as saying fatalities would be reduced by 20 percent if checkpoints were allowed.
However, in 1994 the top criminal court in the state ruled that checkpoints are unconstitutional unless they follow Texas Legislature guidelines. And since the Legislature has not set any guidelines, it may be quite a while before anything changes.
Others believe that checkpoints are dangerous because they greatly expand police power. Some civil rights activists believe that if police are allowed to set up these checkpoints they would use their power indiscriminately. They believe that when people are not stopped with justifiable cause, serious problems can occur as a result.
How They Work in Other States
In most states where DWI sobriety checkpoints are conducted, officers usually stop vehicles based on a random numeric value, according to the article. For example, they may stop every third vehicle. When this occurs, offers check to see whether or not the driver is intoxicated. Some states establish checkpoints once a week while others only conduct them once or twice a month. Proponents believe that when checkpoints are well-publicized, people tend to be dissuaded from drinking while driving.
The Durham Law Firm wants to know what you think. Are you for or against DWI sobriety checkpoints in Texas? Share your opinion by clicking one of the social media icons on this page. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact us online or call us at (214) 222-4000.