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Euless Rep. Prepares Sobriety Checkpoint Bill

By Jay Gormley, CBS 11 News
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Police officers stop cars at roadblock (AP Photo)

Police officers stop cars at roadblock (AP Photo)

EULESS (CBSDFW.COM) – Justin resident Doyce Grant just can’t understand why Texas is one of 12 states that doesn’t allow for police to set up sobriety checkpoints.

“We’re so afraid to profile somebody that we don’t think about 15,000 or the 17,000 people a year who are killed by drunk drivers,” Grant said.

The 71-year-old lost his daughter to a drunken driver. He strongly supports a bill that would allow for checkpoints, like the one recently filed by State Representative Todd Smith (R-Euless).

“If I could guarantee that I could save your wife’s life, or your mother’s life, or your life by putting in these checkpoints, would you vote for it then?” Grant asked. “I can’t guarantee it, but I guarantee you’d have a better chance of making it.

House Bill 439 would allow law enforcement agencies in Texas to set up sobriety checkpoints in counties with populations greater than 250,000. This is the fifth time Smith has introduced such a bill. He believes his best chance to pass it will come in Jan. when the Legislature reconvenes.

“This is about ensuring that drivers are sober when they are driving on our streets,” Smith said.

Smith has tweaked the bill to give it better odds of passing. One change prohibits an officer from asking for a driver’s license or proof of insurance unless there is probable cause that the driver is breaking the law.

Another change mandates that checkpoints can only be set up in locations with a history of repeated alcohol-related driving offenses. Smith said drivers are less likely to drink if they know a possible checkpoint awaits.

“These things work not by arresting more drunk drivers, which is a surprise to many people,” Smith said. “Instead, (checkpoints) prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel in the first place.”

Smith said the changes to his bill may ease concerns of profiling, since it also states that checkpoints must be set up in areas without regard to ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

“Somewhere, sometime they’re going to come to their senses and not worry about profiling,” Grant said. “They’re going to worry about the people who don’t have any say in this and that’s the ones who get killed.”

HB439 is also receiving strong support from Irving-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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