It seems every week in Houston, another fatal drunk driving accident is in the news and we are lucky if it is only one fatality. Cars and pickup trucks running into houses, drunk drivers striking patrol cars and killing pedestrians and other motorists are things we see in the news almost every day in Texas.
Some initiatives have been implemented in an effort to curtail drunk continues including the one adopted by the Houston area which is the “no refusal” policy. While arrests under the no refusal policy have skyrocketed, the numbers of serious injury or wrongful death drunk driving crashes continues to plague Texas.
The no refusal policy in effect provided funding for obtaining warrants to draw blood from suspects who refused to take a breath test after being arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. The policy was first implemented on weekends and has proven to be effective in numbers of arrests.
While we value our freedom in America and especially in Texas, one has to wonder if a tougher approach such as used in other countries may reduce the DWI problem that we have in Texas. In some countries, roadblocks or checkpoints are used to help ensure that motorists on the roadway are not intoxicated behind the wheel. The penalties are so steep and the ever-present likelihood of coming upon a checkpoint has radically reduced the incidence of DWI accidents in the countries that permit checkpoints for DWI testing.
As a state that derives much of our identity from the old West, Texas has a legacy to be proud of and one that is unique in our country. The Western heritage we enjoy in Texas is part of our cultural makeup as a state. How we deal with fighting drunk driving to reduce DWI accidents is an ongoing debate in Texas. Part of the issue is the old West mentality (in which we take great pride) from a state that permitted open containers in cars only years ago. Many serious political leaders opposed outlawing open containers when that initiative finally passed.
Is it time for a new approach in fighting Texas drunk driving?
Greg Baumgartner is a Houston DWI accident attorney and a safety advocate.
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