Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Texas senate gives preliminary approval to sobriety checkpoints bill
The bill passed only after John Carona amended it to apply only to the state’s most populous counties and cities.
The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to a controversial bill that would allow law enforcement to establish sobriety checkpoints in Texas. The bill, SB 298, passed 20-11 only after its author, State Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) amended it to apply only to the state’s most populous counties and cities.
Six Republicans and four Democrats were among those casting “no” votes.
The vote broke down as follows:
Yeas: Averitt, Carona, Davis, Duncan, Ellis, Fraser, Harris, Huffman, Lucio, Nelson, Nichols, Patrick, Seliger, Shapiro, Shapleigh, VanideiPutte, Watson, Wentworth, West, Zaffirini.
Nays: Deuell, Eltife, Estes, Gallegos, Hegar, Hinojosa, Jackson, Ogden, Uresti, Whitmire, Williams.
The bill gets its third and final reading in the Senate Tuesday before moving on to the House.
Legislation similar to Carona’s has been introduced almost every legislative session since 2003. Texas is one of only a handful of states without sobriety checkpoints–to the chagrin of MADD and other special interest groups.
Texas’ ended its brief practice of sobriety checkpoints in 1994 after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals deemed them illegal unless specifically authorized by the state legislature.
We’ve commented several times on why sobriety checkpoints are a bad idea, and think it is worth noting again:
There are a lot of reasons that sobriety checkpoints are a bad idea. For one thing, they are ineffective–they often catch no one driving drunk while costing taxpayers as much as $10,000 per checkpoint. Since they are highly visible and publicized, habitual and more dangerous drunk drivers can easily avoid them.
In addition, they can cause a lot of problems for low-income drivers. For one thing, at such a checkpoint, you can bet they aren’t just going to be asking you to blow. They’ll be asking for insurance, registration, looking at every tail light, and trying, generally, to write as many tickets as possible.
This puts millions of low-income Texas drivers at risk of losing their vehicles and having to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees when they weren’t even driving poorly. For example, if a poor Texan’s vehicle registration or inspection expires in between paychecks, they may have to wait until they get paid to get their car inspected or pay for their vehicle registration. While that driving around for a week with an expired MVI or license plate harms no one (after all, the state is still going go get their money) the ticket the low-income driver gets will harm them.
Pegasus News Content partner - Grits For Breakfast