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Sobriety Checkpoints Likely To Cause Legislative Divide, Again

By Joel Thomas, CBS 11 News
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Police officers stop cars at roadblock (AP Photo)

Police officers stop cars at roadblock (AP Photo)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A bill slated to be introduced to the Texas Legislature next year may crack down on drunken drivers, but some believe it will be at the cost of constitutional freedoms.

In the past two Legislative sessions, the issue of sobriety checkpoints has made it out of committee but never gained the momentum to push it in front of the full Legislature. North Texas lawmakers said they will try again next year to bring the checkpoints back.

However, experts believe it will likely set off a fierce legal debate.

The proposal would allow police to stop all drivers who cross a checkpoint to search for those who are under the influence. Rep. John Carona (R – Dallas) presented a bill in the last Legislative session that would have permitted checkpoints in cities with a population of more than 500,000 and in counties with a population of more than 250,000.

Those who have lost loved ones in Texas DWI accidents believe the checkpoints are a good idea.

“Because someone just chose to go out and have a good time our whole family was ripped from us,” said Lisa Adkison.

Adkisons’s 24-year old son, just transferred home by the Navy, and her 2-year old grand daughter were killed when a drunken driver slammed head-on into their car. Adkison received the nightmarish phone call every mother dreads.

“And she said that Josh and Mattie didn’t make it,” Adkison said, crying. “And that was the night our world turned upside down.”

Adkison favors a proposal to allow sobriety checkpoints in Texas. The measure to be introduced in the Legislature is similar to last session’s failed bill. It would allow police in major cities and deputies in counties with more than 250,000 people to stop traffic to search for drunken drivers.

“I have a right to drive on a safe road,” Adkison said. “And something needs to be done. We have a problem in Texas. And if you fly you go through security.”

The issue has sparked debates about constitutional rights in the past.

“Its all the same issue,” said civil rights attorney Frank Colosi. “And that’s what it boils down to.”

Colosi said the issue is just the same as security pat-downs at airports.

“If anybody comes up to you and says this is clear, its not. These are tough issues,” Colosi said. “How many people do we let die? How many innocent people do we sweep up in these check points?”

The issue will likely be introduced during the early part of a legislative session already crowded with controversial issues such as redistricting and a large, looming budget shortfall.

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