Today, MADD Texas is having our lobby day at the state capital. Texas is particularly important because it has more drunk driving deaths than any other state in the country (with 1,213 people killed in 2011). That’s not just because it’s the second largest state – 40% of Texas’s traffic fatalities come from drunk driving, significantly more than the national average of 31%.
In short, Texas has one of the worst drunk driving problems in the country. This is in part because it lacks two very important laws:
- Ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. Right now, Texas only requires interlocks for repeat offenders or offenders who were nearly twice the legal limit or more. Studies show these devices can reduce repeat offenses by two-thirds. Seventeen other states now require them and Texas should too.
- Sobriety checkpoints. Thirty-eight states allow law enforcement to do sobriety checkpoints, where they check vehicles in an orderly and methodical fashion to make sure people are not driving drunk. This lets potential offenders know that they will be caught if they try to drive drunk. As you might guess, this deters people from committing the crime – sobriety checkpoints have been shown to lower drunk driving deaths by 20 percent. That would be 262 lives saved each year in Texas.
So, today, we are talking to legislators about these bills and, if you are a Texan, we’d like you to as well. You can email your legislators about the ignition interlock bill here and the sobriety checkpoint bill here.