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Texas, Leading in Drunk-Driving Deaths, Debates Sobriety Checkpoints

December 15, 2012 06:21:00 am

As deaths and arrests related to drunken driving continue to make headlines, advocates are calling on Texas legislators to legalize sobriety checkpoints and pass other measures to crack down on driving while intoxicated. actions they say would help prevent Texas from continuing to lead the nation in drunken-driving deaths, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports. In 2010, at least 10,228 people were killed nationwide in alcohol-impaired crashes. "Research shows drunk-driving fatalities would decline by 20 percent if most agencies ran a sobriety checkpoint," said Bill Lewis of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Sobriety checkpoints, allowed in 38 other states, have been outlawed in Texas since the state's top criminal court ruled 18 years ago that they are unconstitutional unless they follow guidelines set by the Legislature, which has not set any guidelines. "I think this is just cheap political maneuvering that's going on," said Jim Harrington, director of the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project. "No. 1, checkpoints are not necessary, and No. 2, they would expand police power enormously. Every time you do that, they have more discretion and they can use it in discriminatory ways."

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