In September, the Lone Star State really started to crack down on drunk driving, taking steps to reduce DWIs, speed up DWI car accident arrests and get our drinking and driving problem under tight control. Let’s catch up on some of the DWI-related headlines now.
State-Wide Ignition Interlock Law Goes into Effect
In August, we talked about HB 2246, a house bill that would require DWI offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles in order to get their driving privileges back. Well, now that bill has officially become a law, and as of September 1, if Dallas DWI drivers want to get back behind the wheel, they have to blow into an interlock device located on their dashboard. If they’re sober, they can start their vehicles and drive as normal. If the device detects any levels of alcohol on their breath, an alarm goes off, and they’ll be unable to operate their vehicle.
While the exact results of this new law won’t be measurable for a while, we can probably expect to see a lot fewer repeat DWIs on Texas roads in the coming months. It may also alleviate some of the back-up in our local legal systems, which are often rife with repeat DWI cases that slow down the legal process and delay sentencing on all types of cases.
Galveston County Launches STRIKE Program
DWI drivers in Galveston, Texas beware: Even refusing a breathalyzer or field sobriety test can’t delay your arrest. In fact, thanks to the county’s new STRIKE program, an officer can have a warrant for your arrest within just a few minutes. STRIKE, which stands for Safety Through Rapid Investigation of Key Evidence, allows Galveston officers to use video chat to contact a local judge, present evidence and request a warrant after pulling over a suspected drunk driver. If the warrant is approved, an officer can require a blood test on the spot.
The program is intended to decrease lag time between DWI stops and blood testing, as this can often cause a significantly lower BAC reading than was actually present at the time of the stop.
Counties Opt for “No Refusal” Weekends
Holidays have long been a dangerous time to get behind the wheel, with more roadway car accidents, injuries and deaths occurring on Labor Day, July 4 and New Years Eve than any other days of the year. This Labor Day, dozens of Texas counties took precautionary action, opting for “no refusal” weekends in their respective areas.
In an effort to curb DWI driving accidents and arrests from occurring on these weekends, officers were allowed to get blood samples from all suspected DWI drivers – even those who refused a breathalyzer or field sobriety test – on the spot. They simply requested warrants via on-call judges in the area, and no lag time was required.
MADD Comes to Texas
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also known as MADD, has come to Southeast Texas to bring awareness, raise funds and prevent drunk driving accidents in our communities. The group even hosted a “MADD Dash” on October 3 in an effort to reach their $55,000 fundraising goal. Once reached, the funds will go toward prevention efforts throughout the state.
When it comes to drunk driving, every little effort counts – especially considering a recent report released by Bankrate, which determined that Texas has one of the highest fatal crash rates per capita in the entire nation. Experts in the report believe high rates of drunk driving play a large role in these numbers, and the recent ignition interlock law may be able to put a dent in this issue.
Remember, if you’re ever involved in a DWI car accident or otherwise affected by a drunk driver, don’t stay silent. Contact the Dallas DWI car accident lawyers at Franklin Law Frim, and we’ll make sure they’re punished for their wrongdoing.